Joan Baez was 18 when she performed at the very first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, a year before she’d release her first self-titled solo album. More than 60 years later, in 2020, Baez is still an active, working musician—she released an album, Whistle Down the Wind, in March of 2018, which earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. A follow-up to 2008’s Day After Tomorrow, it gave her a reason for her 2018 “Fare Thee Well” tour, which wrapped up in late November of that year.
Baez was born on this day (Jan. 9) in 1941. To celebrate, we’re sharing this glorious Paste archives set from 1972. The singer and activist contributed her saintly vocals to an acoustic set at Gannon College in Erie, Pa. Unlike the collaborative singsong she was known for at Newport and other festivals, here Baez performs alone, with just an acoustic guitar, though her messages are no less bold. She not only plays a collection of compelling covers, but she also shares a few then-new originals. Baez starts the show off with a great rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” before performing a few Bob Dylan classics, including “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and “Love is Just a Four-Letter Word,” plus John Lennon’s “Imagine” and John Prine’s “Sam Stone.” She had just released an album, Come From the Shadows, in May of 1972, and it was one of the first instances she began sharing original compositions in addition to folk standards and compelling covers. From that record, she plays lead-off track “Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose),” which was inspired by her husband David Harris’ time spent in a Texas prison for draft evasion, and another haunting original, “Love Song To A Stranger.”
You can listen to Joan Baez’s 1972 show below. While you’re at it, read our 2018 interview with Joan Baez right here. Further down, watch a 1981 Joan Baez concert via the Paste vault.