Ed. note: As long as humans have been making music, it’s been used as a form of protest. Each week, as part of KQED Arts’ 100 Days project, documenting artists’ responses to our new administration, we’ll be posting a new song that responds to our current political climate.
Joan Baez has had a busy few days. With a career that spans nearly 60 years, the singer-songwriter, who lives in Woodside, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week at the age of 76. It’s an honor that recognizes Baez’s contributions to folk music over the span of her 30-plus albums. But what can’t really be quantified is her contribution to the realm of protest music: it’s tough to emphasize exactly how influential she’s been for generations of artists who see their work as a form of activism.
In between being feted (the induction ceremony takes place April 7), Baez found time to sit down and record a little ditty she wrote for our current president, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. Lyrically, it’s a remarkably efficient burn: after getting in a dig at the media for its tepidness, she paints a portrait of President Trump as a bumbling fool stomping his way around the White House grounds. She also questions the mental faculties of the “future dictator,” speculates on the state of his marriage and, finally, imagines the sweet day when the “dirt” has hit the fan — and no one pays any attention to Trump’s Twitter account.
This is, to be sure, far from the first time Baez has shared her thoughts on our current president. In the video below, she talks to Palo Alto Online at a protest about a week after the election, calling Trump an “empty vessel.”
Baez recently told the San Francisco Chronicle she’ll be releasing one last album, aptly titled Fare Thee Well, before retiring next year — from recording and touring, that is. Based on her recent appearances at rallies and protests, like this San Francisco rally in support of Obamacare, she won’t be giving up the fight for social justice anytime soon.