Joan Baez: I Am a Noise

Looking at this title, one may think, “A noise? Really?” After all, Joan Baez’s voice is generally considered as one of the most gorgeous—some could even say best—in all of popular music.It’s a voice that has inspired many people around the globe and continues to do so decades after she passed away, inspiring singers like Taylor Swift, a performer with whom Baez has shared the stage as a guest.

Baez’s self-description was taken from a notebook she kept when she was a teenager. The vocalist showed engagement and sincerity from an early age; the first of many such notebooks she kept throughout her life was headed “What I Believe.” This film, which has three credited directors, is based on footage gathered and shot throughout a lifetime.

The fact that part of the interview video features interviewees who are no longer with us seems to be connected to a separate project that wasn’t intended to be this one, in my opinion, may be one reason Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky, and Maeve O’Boyle are listed as co-filmmakers. It doesn’t matter. “I Am a Noise” is a cogent, cohesive, and occasionally startlingly honest depiction that begins with Baez really speaking with a voice coach as she plans for what will be a “farewell tour” (it was undertaken in 2019 before COVID struck the world).

Over home movie clips, Baez talks about her “beautiful” mother and her intellectual father, who was determined that his daughters see the world and learn to appreciate the beauty of its many diverse cultures.

At one point in the movie, she admits, “I’m not very good with one-on-one relationships, I’m good with one-on-two-thousand relationships.” As far as music documentaries go, it’s pretty weak on actual music, while having a lot of shots of her speaking to an audience. However, the periods were as much a part of Baez’s socially aware folk as she was a significant player in those times, so the music literally permeates her memories of being close to Dr. King as he made his “I Have a Dream” speech or of watching after the precocious and prodigal young Bob Dylan.

She recalls turned their relationship into something of a lark because “I needed to mother somebody, I needed to hang out, I needed intrigue,” before admitting that eventually e broke my innermost being. An image of a stern-appearing artwork of a contemporary Dylan peering at us from a wall can be seen in photos of her current home.

She acknowledges that popularity gave her many benefits, but the movie also suggests that fame may also have negative effects. things like, you know, personhood. At least somewhat. The theme of family is one that the film returns to again. The odd rivalry she had with Mimi, her younger sister, who went on to become Mimi Faria and a member of the folk duet Richard Faria with the famed, erratic singer-songwriter.

She tried to pull out something inside of herself, what she termed “the kernel” of her inner darkness, after experiencing extended moments of elation followed by breakdowns and struggling with a nearly ten-year quaaludes addiction. Actually, Mimi was in possession of the key. In the movie, this introduces a brand-new, terrible story.

Baez displays amazing composure in the face of enormous loss in the final scene, where we see her at peace with her son Gabriel Harris, who performed in her traveling band for the farewell concerts. She undoubtedly altered the course of history, or at the very least, significantly affected a significant portion of the world’s population.

In some cinemas right now.

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