|Joan Baez at a 1960's Anti-War Rally|
INTERVIEWER: On the basis of what you have been discovering for yourself in the past year or so, what is your impression now of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement?
BAEZ: Well, as I look back, that movement was--not bad, but they didn't really know much of anything. I didn't know much, either! But, it was what we refer to now as an "unviolent" movement; that is to say, they used nonviolence because it seemed the most intelligent, but they would have been happy at any moment to switch to something else if they thought it would work better.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think it was very effective?
BAEZ: Well, in a way, except that if each of those students really knew what he was doing and really knew what he was asking--if he was saying, "We're not going to take any more of this gas,' then he had to be ready to leave school. The problem was that most of them, I think, were not ready to leave school.
INTERVIEWER: Would you agree that it would be virtually impossible to bring about any lasting changes at the university?
BAEZ: Ummm--not if they were ready to leave! And they should be ready to leave because I don't think they should have been there in the first place!...
INTERVIEWER: You have said that you think one of the basic problems with the traditional college setting is that it still "tends to assume that war is okay," that there are "justifiable" wars. Do you see this among the faculty as well? Normally, aren't faculty thought of as being "liberal"?
BAEZ: Oh, good Lord, that word "liberal" is just, I mean, practically meaningless. Most good liberals still think it's okay to kill people.
INTERVIEWER: Under certain circumstances?
BAEZ: Yes, and they insist everything depends on the circumstances and those circumstances exist all the time; we just manage to create them...
INTERVIEWER: You've implied previously when we've talked that what you sing reflects the state of your thinking at the time; you choose songs because they are saying something to you. What kinds of songs are you singing now and is there any particular reason for this?
BAEZ: Well, that's sort of funny because right now in this unquenchable search for some kind of reality that I'm involved in I'm not terribly interested in music right now and it occurs to me I hadn't really realized what was happening. I tried a rock'n'roll record this year--and I really ended up that I don't want to put it out, and I'll tell you why.
INTERVIEWER: Was that Dick Farina's "Pack Up Your Sorrows"?
BAEZ: Farina's, yes...I realized when I was listening to the tapes and trying to put the record together that something was wrong. And I never could figure it out until we were reading Gandhi and he said something about art. He said how you could never accept art for art's sake. Then he said he rejected it, he didn't say it was necessarily bad, he said he rejected it because it didn't represent truth, it wasn't involved with truth, and I realized that that was really what was wrong with that record. Not that it was false or lies or anything, but just that it had nothing to do with anything meaningful, most of it...The rock songs are not necessarily untrue, but what Gandhi also said was that art must elevate the spirit. Rock'n'roll does not elevate my spirit...
INTERVIEWER: Have you felt that Dylan's newer material still says something to you?
BAEZ: It says something to me when I'm feeling at my absolutely most destructive. I think it is very, very destructive music--and quite beautiful, some of it, you know, but for me it's when I feel mopy and very unspiritual, or whatever you want to call it.
INTERVIEWER: Why did you call it "destructive"?
BAEZ: Well, that's all he's saying. I mean, up to a point, Bobby and I said about the same thing. What we both said was that everything is completely screwy and there just doesn't seem to be much reason to anything, and then we split when I said you had to find out whether there was a reason and you had to give something to the people who are starving and you have to try to stop murdering even though it seems impossible, but what he said was--`Screw it.' I mean, you can't do anything and just forget it and I'll get my kicks while I'm here. I mean, that's what I get out of the music even though some of it is--I mean, he's such a musical genius that it's so beautiful to the ear, except that it's very discouraging. I mean, putting out a song like "Everybody Must Get Stoned," that's just the opposite of helping anyone to care. I mean it's just so destructive somehow.
INTERVIEWER: Do you feel there's a kind of "retreat" involved here?
BAEZ: Oh, complete, yes. I think he doesn't want to be responsible for anybody, including himself.
INTERVIEWER: He has said as much in various interviews.
BAEZ: Yes, he's pretty straight about that. I just think it's rather--I can't help thinking it's sad. Because he's so powerful.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think he would be happier if he could find the strength to go back to attempting to fight it rather than not?
BAEZ: Something like that, yes. I mean, it's hard to judge who's going to be happiest now, but he doesn't appear to me to be a very happy young man...
(end of excerpt)