WHEN JOAN BAEZ SAW ex-boyfriend Steve Jobs for the last time before he died, she asked him a rather profound question. “I said, ‘How does it feel to have changed the world?’ He said, ‘OK.’”
Apple founder Jobs could easily have asked the same of folk music and counter-culture legend Baez, who stars in the MOJO Interview in the latest edition of MOJO magazine.
“Someone said, ‘Have you ever thought about the fact that you are the only woman in the world who has seen both Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs naked?’” adds the singer, now 73. “I said, ‘At the same time?’”
In a thoroughly entertaining interview with MOJO writer Sylvie Simmons, Baez reveals stories of an extraordinary life that took her from the California-Mexico border to Baghdad with her father’s work as a physicist. Key was her attendance at a Pete Seeger concert aged 16. It proved a gateway to a life of song, political engagement and rock’n’roll temptation.
“I wouldn’t do drugs. I thought it was because I was so superior to everybody.”
“When I sang at the Gate of Horn in Chicago, where I met Odetta,” Baez recalls. “I was filled with fear of the Lord about nightclubs because somehow or other, though I was raised a Quaker, back then I believed in Hell and thought it was wicked to have alcohol in the room. I wouldn’t do drugs. I thought it was because I was so superior to everybody, but really I was scared of losing control.”
Baez’s status as a hero of protest folk led to fascinating encounters with radical politics in and beyond the United States. Outside of her better-known association with Dr Martin Luther King Jr., she also befriended future Czech president Vaclav Havel after he evaded arrest by pretending to be her roadie.
“The secret police were everywhere,” she remembers. “He picked up the guitar I think for some sense of security. It was so cute… He referred to that night and that show and that song as the last drop in the cup before the revolution.”
Read the full story, amid a treasury of Baez’s anecdotes and insights, in the new issue of MOJO magazine.