Thursday, September 27, 2012
In video footage of Joan Baez performing “A Song For David” in 1969 at Esalen’s Celebration at Big Sur, her voice plays with the sound of the crashing ocean as if the two were old friends.
“There are friends I will make/ And bonds I will break/ As the seasons roll by/ And we build our own sky,” Baez sings.
The singer-songwriter’s relationship with Big Sur and Esalen began in 1961 when she was just 19 years old – after already establishing herself as a bona fide folk star two years earlier at the Newport Folk Festival – and it’s a bond that has only strengthened as the seasons roll by.
Baez lived on and off at the Big Sur retreat throughout the ’60s: She co-led the New Folk Workshop in 1964, and was involved in each of the seven installments of Celebration at Big Sur, which brought Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, John Sebastian and many other big-name acts to perform at the institute.
“Every rising of the moon makes the years grow late,” Baez continues in “A Song For David.”
As the years grow late, Baez has continued to cherish the bond she made with the wild South Coast when she was a wide-eyed teenager: In 1992, she performed at Esalen’s 30th anniversary and on Wednesday, she’ll return for year number 50.
Like Esalen, and the ocean crashing below it, Baez hasn’t changed much over the years: activism and music still go hand-in-hand. In 1963, she famously performed “We Shall Overcome” at the 1963 March on Washington. Meanwhile, last November, Baez performed a set for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. One of the tunes she played “Where’s My Apple Pie,” proves her messages are also just as relevant: “Well the wars may change/ But not so the glaze/ In the young boys’ eyes/ When they cry out for their mamas/ In the hours before they die.”
JOAN BAEZ AND FRIENDS perform at 3pm (gates at 1pm) Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Esalen, 55000 California 1, Big Sur. Sold out. 667-3000, www.esalen.org