75 Uplifting Joan Baez Quotes

Oluwatosin Michael
Sep 25, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Jan 10, 2023
For a mind-changing experience, read these Joan Baez quotes!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 11.5 Min

Joan Baez, the notable contemporary folk singer who later became an activist, was raised in New York.

Baez's parents were Albert Baez and Joan Chandos Bridge. Albert Baez was a politician turned physicist, he was also co-credited with the invention of the x-ray microscope.

Her father was of Mexican heritage and her mother was English and came from a hereditary line of the Dukes of Chandos. Due to her father's work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Baez lived in multiple places such as Iraq, the Middle East, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, and England.

The singer attended Palo Alto High School.

The American legendary singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan was introduced by Joan Baez to her extensive audience. Baez released her debut album in 1960, named, 'Joan Baez'.

After her debut album was released many more hit albums followed such as, 'Diamonds & Rust', 'Come From The Shadows', 'From Every Stage', 'Farewell, Angelina', and 'Gulf Winds'. Baez also wrote the song, 'The Story Of Bangladesh', which became 'The Song Of Bangladesh' during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

For her political activism, Joan Baez was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by two universities, Rutgers University and Antioch University. Joan Baez also participated and played an important role in many charity concerts including, 'A Conspiracy Of Hope' (1986), 'Human Rights Now!'

(1988), 'Live Aid' (1985). Joan Baez's autobiography, 'And A Voice To Sing With', went on to become a New York Times bestseller.

In 1987, Baez went to the Middle East, to perform and sing songs for the peace between Palestinians and Israeli people. Joan Baez released more albums including, 'Gone From Danger', 'Brothers In Arms', 'Speaking Of Dreams', and 'Ring Them Bells'.

Baez, in 1993 went to the war-inflicted Bosnia and Herzegovina region, when she was invited by the Refugees International (a humanitarian organization). Baez became the first notable artist to perform in Sarajevo.

The astonishing singer, Joan Baez has performed for six decades and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017! Baez has exemplarily shown her long-lasting struggle for the constant issues regarding the environment, civil rights, human rights, and nonviolence through her incredible music and songwriting.

She worked with many talented artists, to name a few, they were Bob Marley, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers Band, Jackson Browne, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, and Leonard Cohen.

Joan Baez Quotes On Human Rights

The phenomenal contemporary folk singer has been long associated with protests throughout the whole world; she has participated in multiple human rights struggles as well. She has gained a lot of wisdom up her sleeve through her experience. So let's take a look at some of Joan Baez's quotes regarding civil rights!

"My father was a physicist and also an activist. My first public protest was with my dad at Stanford. I came by all that honestly."

"Only you and I can help the sun rise each coming morning. If we don’t, it may drench itself out in sorrow. If we don’t, the sun in rise may drench itself out in sorrow."

"You special, miraculous, unrepeatable, fragile, fearful, tender, lost, sparkling ruby emerald jewel, rainbow splendor person. It’s up to you."

"Social change really cannot happen unless people are willing to take a risk, and they were. And I was so moved by that, and of course, by the way that he spoke, that made a huge dent in my belief system and my spirit."

"If people have to put labels on me, I'd prefer the first label to be human being, the second label to be pacifist, and the third to be folk singer."

"Nonviolence is a flop. The only bigger flop is violence."

"I would say that I'm a nonviolent soldier. In place of weapons of violence, you have to use your mind, your heart, your sense of humor, every faculty available to you…because no one has the right to take the life of another human being."

"If it's natural to kill, why do men have to go into training to learn how?"

"There is chaos. There's bloodshed. There's carnage."

"I don't think of myself as a symbol of the sixties, but I do think of myself as a symbol of following through on your beliefs."

"I have been true to the principles of nonviolence, developing a stronger and stronger aversion to the ideologies of both the far right and the far left and a deeper sense of rage and sorrow over the suffering they continue to produce all over the world."

"Someone had to change the world. And obviously I was the one for the job."

"The longer you practice nonviolence and the meditative qualities of it that you will need, the more likely you are to do something intelligent in any situation."

"I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war."

"I've been obsessed with stopping people from blowing each other's brains out since I was ten."

"I think music has the power to transform people, and in doing so, it has the power to transform situations – some large and some small."

"We need to have faith in the people who are giving this movement direction to be smart enough to stay one step ahead of what's coming up next."

- 'Joan Baez on the new protest era: The whole world's watching', Interview with Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, October 26, 2011.

"I have hope in people, in individuals. Because you don't know what's going to rise from the ruins."

"There's a consensus out that it's OK to kill when your government decides who to kill. If you kill inside the country you get in trouble. If you kill outside the country, right time, right season, latest enemy, you get a medal."

"The point on nonviolence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink."

- 'Daybreak', Autobiography, Joan Baez, 1968.

"We're not really pacifists, we're nonviolent soldiers."

Joan Baez Quotes On Life

(Take a look at what the legendary folk singer, Joan Baez, had to say on life and success!)

Along with pursuing her singing career, Joan Baez worked with numerous organizations to promote social justice, and civil liberties; her efforts were diversified and commendable. So let's hear her opinion on what she has to say about life, through her quotes!

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

- 'Daybreak', Autobiography, Joan Baez, 1968.

"All of us are survivors, but how many of us transcend survival?"

"If you're gonna sing meaningful songs, you have to be committed to living a life that backs that up."

"Action is the antidote to despair."

"You may not know it, but at the far end of despair, there is a white clearing where one is almost happy."

"I've never had a humble opinion. If you've got an opinion, why be humble about it?"

"Noise is an imposition on sanity, and we live in very noisy times."

"From the start I had an aversion to anything commercial. They said I was an impossible diva because I insisted on a black stage with one light and a microphone."

"As long as one keeps searching, the answers will come."

"The search is in the doing."

"To love means you also trust."

"God must have something to do with joy ... and with sadness."

"That's all nonviolence is – organized love."

"Mostly what I listen to when I turn on my little iPod is opera."

"As we know, forgiveness of oneself is the hardest of all the forgivenesses."

"I was addicted to rhythm 'n' blues pretty much directly into folk music. I had my little 45s of mostly black artists. That was as close as I got. I've never listened to heavy rock or stuff that jangles my nerves, because I'm already jangled."

- Joan Baez, rock star? Believe it", Interview with James Reed, Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2017.

"Hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers."

"We both know what memories can bring / They bring diamonds and rust."

"My life is a crystal teardrop. There are snowflakes falling in the teardrop and little figures trudging in slow motion."

"People say I'm such a pessimist, but I always was. It never stopped me from doing what I had to do. I would say I'm a realist."

"If you don’t have music, you have silence. There is power in both."

"Maybe that afternoon was the closest I ever felt to Bob: his eyes were as old as God, and he was fragile as a winter leaf."

"I've never been an optimist."

"Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men - bring them softness, teach them how to cry."

Joan Baez Quotes On Peace

Let's hear Joan Baez's perspective on harmony through her sayings, as she has tirelessly thrown light on the organization of civil rights and non-violence through her music!

"Noise is an imposition on sanity, and we live in very noisy times."

"It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page."

"Peace might sell, but who's buying?

"In this society, we don't like to face the future and the dying process and all of it. Most of us really don't want to think about it, but it's facing me in the mirror every day."

"We were raised with that discussion about violence and non-violence, and we all pretty much came up on the side of non-violence. That became my foundation with politics and my livelihood."

- 'How Sweet The Sound: An Interview With Joan Baez', Interview with Mike Ragogna, Huffington Post, March 18, 2010.

"It's hard to find something that doesn't have a long way to go. My little motto is "Little victories and big defeats."

"My concern has always been for the people who are victimized, unable to speak for themselves and who need outside help."

"I spend a lot of time with Buddhists. I'm not a Buddhist, but their relationship with death interests me."

"I think the question that nobody wanted to deal with is the question they're posing: did my kid die in vain? Because the answer is too awful."

Joan Baez Quotes On Success

Let's read Joan Baez's opinion about success and hope, which have always been sincere and humble like a natural!

"My dread is for my show to be a nostalgia act. So the key to it is how do we keep it fresh?"

"I was born gifted. I can speak of my gifts with little or no modesty, but with tremendous gratitude, precisely because they are gifts, and not things which I created, or actions about which I might be proud."

"God respects me when I work. He loves me when I sing. Tagore"

"Somebody else does the rigor and then I listen. I have an assistant, and my manager, and other people who hunt and find and send it to me, and then I just figure out which ones I can do justice to."

- 'Q&A with Joan Baez: Even Taylor Swift thinks she's cool', Interview with Roger Catlin, Washington Post, March 4, 2016.

"It sounds corny, but it's absolutely true: A song chooses me. I don't go looking for a certain kind of lyric. It kind of develops its own little arc and I'll just see what happens."

"I'm not a rock and roller, a hitmaker. I'm highly dependent on what's coming out of these vocal cords."

"If you swing both ways, you really swing. I just figure you double your pleasure."

"Sometimes I get lonesome for a storm. A full-blown storm where everything changes."

"I am so disconnected from the world of rock 'n' roll. I was always peripheral, partly because of the drug culture. I was not involved in that."

"I'm a badass. I really am. When you see me hanging with Snoop Doggy Dogg, I am perfectly at home and comfortable."

- 'Joan Baez, rock star? Believe it', Interview with James Reed, Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2017.

"Put tattoos all up and down our thighs, do anything our parents would despise. Take uppers, downers, blues, and reds and yellows, our brains are turning into jello."

- 'Daybreak', Autobiography, Joan Baez, 1968.

"The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one."

"I see a young man playing 'Plaisir d'Amour' on guitar. I knew I didn't want to go to college; I was already playing a ukulele, and after I saw that, I was hooked. All I wanted to do was play guitar and sing."

"The hardest song to write is a protest song, a topical song with meaning."

"I didn't go through the routine of singing in small clubs and doing open mics and working so hard the way a lot of people do and did. It was just an overnight kind of thing."

"Now I know I understand that it was Sgt. Pepper's Band, that put the sixties into song, where have all the heroes gone?"

"Some people don't even notice. "Oh, you sound exactly like you did!" And I say, "OK, if that's what you want to believe, that's fine."

"Living so fully, I can’t imagine what any drug could do for me."

"Seeing you sleeping peacefully on your back among your stuffed ducks, bears and basset hounds, would remind me that no matter how good the next day might be, certain moments were gone forever because we could not go backwards in time."

"I would say that I'm a nonviolent soldier. In place of weapons of violence, you have to use your mind, your heart, your sense of humor, every faculty available to you...because no one has the right to take the life of another human being."

“I have heard more than once, 'Shut up and sing!' and I get it now.”

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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