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And a Voice to Sing With

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  349 ratings  ·  32 reviews
• The perfect time for a reissue: In October 2009, PBS will air a ninety-minute primetime special on Joan Baez as part of the Emmy Award-winning American Masters series. Told often from Baez’s perspective, but supported by a rich performance and historical archive, the documentary centers on her career as a musician, power as an artist, those who influenced her, and those ...more
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published November 1st 1989 by Summit Books (first published 1989)
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Michael (Mike)
What's an ex-military guy doing reading about Joan Baez? It's hard to explain, but I did read in her book that I am not alone. For some reason older ex-military guys often soften to her later in life, and many make it a point to meet her. I guess we think she was a gutsy anti-war chick, or at least she was authentic about it as opposed to being a fashionista like Jane Fonda, or a coward like some of the men that dodged the draft. I think the book is well-written, and I can tell she wrote it hers ...more
Pete daPixie
Nice to read something in my 'poptastic' shelf that has been written from the inside looking out. The autobiogs do tend to be less cluttered by the mundane. Baez's 1987 memoir 'And A Voice To Sing With' is certainly not mundane. When J.B. published this, she was 46. The sixties queen of folk is now 70, and is still driving old dixie down.
Her memoir spans the best part of six decades, covering her childhood and family life, to the coffee houses of Massachusetts and sixties fame. Newport to Woodst
Michele bookloverforever
another life well lived and still going....Woodstock to Live Aid and beyond.
Good topic. The first half was interesting, but I was less interested in her travels...didn't have the same feel as the early life stories.
Jun 28, 2007 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nancy
I love Joan Baez. Her autobiography is honest, funny and sometimes takes your breath away. I think it's amusing what she has to say about Bob Dylan
The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.
This memoir started out really well. Joan was a young prodigy (and actually a very talented artist)and it is fascinating to read about her rise to fame as a folk music wunderkind. She has a really fluid writing style that comes off as arrogant and charming at the same time, which I love. But, I think of this book as part I and part II. Part I is great. The first person account of the folk music scene of the 60's is great reading. The great Bob Dylan really messed her up bad. Also, her role in th ...more
Was a pretty good read for the first half of the book. Lots of interesting stories about the early days---the late 50's to the mid-60's when her career was in full swing. The second half of the book kind of dragged on. SHe spends a lot of time on her trip to Hanoi during the Vietnam War while really just glossing over her time back with Bob Dylan during his Rolling Thunder Review.

A pleasant surprise though for me was the feeling I got that while she has this image of being all serious and humor
Well, I'm still reading this book and while I struggle with thinking JB may have one of the larger egos in the folk world, it's still pretty inspiring to read about her unflinching devotion to pacifism and her dedication to living out the principles she sang about--unlike, say, Bob Dylan, who (understandably) gets a pretty scathing treatment in the book. My mom says maybe you have to be a bit of narcissist to make a big difference in the world, and maybe she's right. But any folksinger who went ...more
Joe Ahearn

Baez's writing here is sometimes good, usually serviceable, and seldom great. Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons to read this book. First, her account of being on the ground in North Vietnam during a US carpet-bombing campaign is riveting. Second, her stories of working with Martin Luther King and Lech Walesa are well-observed, interesting looks at the two titans of nonviolent resistance in the twentieth century. And, finally, for Dylanophiles, there are of course the details of Baez's
Farida El-gueretly
I honestly only read this book because I'm infatuated by Joan Baez's character. Her writing is nothing exceptional, but there's a raw essence to her writing, similar to that of her voice. So simple and concise about everything she's been through. I was struck by her ordinariness, don't know what I was expecting.

I particularly liked the chapter about Bob Dylan. Can't wait till he writes a memoir, which I doubt will ever happen. His character is definitely worth a couple of biographies.
A lot of people feel okay slagging Joan Baez but I thoroughly enjoyed her memoir. I like her a lot after reading her life story. Her struggles with stage fright, her various and varied love life and her life as a mother were all written about openly and it was interesting to me. She was one of a huge cast of up and comers and had lots of experiences to write about. Say what you want about her but I think she was one of the originals.
An interesting autobiography, although not as compelling as I'd hoped it would be. I actually found the book a bit frustrating. There are sections that are positively thrilling: the chapters on her early life, her relationship with Bob Dylan, her trip to Vietnam, the section on LIVEAID, but there are other sections that are simply dull.

I'm glad I read it, but I feel like telling people to read just the good parts.
I'm discovering many lovable details that make up the person behind a voice I've listen to for years. Although, it is not the most gripping book I've ever read, I have no problem setting it down and moving on to another task, I always find myself going back to where I left off eventually. Her voice when writing is just as wonderful as it is when she sings and just as easy to listen to.
More a 2.5 than a 3. Not terribly well organized, a bit stream-of-consciousness for my taste, mixing serious with frivolous, impressive with mundane, crazy with sane ... A few parts were very interesting, like the trips to Vietnam and Poland and some amazing things she did to help people in need. And "Diamonds and Rust" was NOT about Bob Dylan.
Kelly San George
I enjoyed the walk through folk music history during the 60's and 70's. I was reminded of what a political figure Joan Baez was and came away with a respect for her resolve to do the right thing in an unselfish way. The book was well-written and reflects Joan's personal intelligence.
As a huge Baez fan, I'm, well, biased (baezed?) when it comes to this book. It made me laugh and cry. It's a very honest book in which she describes her life and career, her experience in Vietnam, her demons, her stage fright... To me, Joan Baez is like wine - the older, the better.
This was a good beach read. I have long loved Baez's music, and appreciated her opposition to the war against the people of Viet Nam. But I expected her to be a member of the intelligensia, well read, well spoken. Not so much. Still, a good read, and I learned a few things.

She's Joan Baez, so four stars for her interesting life. Had to deduct a star and a half for poor writing, though. She should have had a ghost writer collaborator, or at the very least, a decent editor. I mean, she's Joan Baez!
I loved Joan Baez's voice in the 60's. She didn't live the kind of life that I admire. It wasn't pleasant reading about her life.
I wish I had not read this book. Cannot enjoy her music any more since I waded through that nervous whiney psycho stuff.
Great book! Loved her descriptions of the various stages of her life. I learned so much about her! Well worth it.
Ondrej Vosecky
Honest autobiography, second half is a bit boring thou. As I have the book signed by Joan, I am adding half a star :)
I was disappointed with this one...boring really...WAY too much detail about all her political activities...ugh
I used to be crazy about Baez. When I read this book I was interested because of that. But the writing was lukewarm.
Interesting but a little long. Didn't realize what an emotional life she has led.
Written in the '80, it's the life (so far) of this great singer.
I find it interesting
A rather disappointing book. I actually gave up on it after chapter two.
Marvelous voice. Amazing Life. Unfortunately the book is so poorly written.
Craig J.
And A Voice to Sing With: A Memoir by Joan Baez (2009)
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Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer and songwriter known for her highly individual vocal style. She is a soprano with a three-octave vocal range and a distinctively rapid vibrato. Many of her songs are topical and deal with social issues.

She is best known for her hits "There But For Fortune", "Diamonds & Rust" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", and to a lesser extent,"We Shall
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