Folk LEGENDS Joan Baez & Paul Simon’s Heartwarming Duet Of “The Boxer”

Legendary folk singer-songwriter, Joan Baez, celebrated her 75th birthday with a star-studded concert hosted at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. Recorded as part of PBS’ Great Performances series, Joan’s 2016 birthday bash has been immortalized on YouTube, and her stunning duet with fellow folk pioneer, Paul Simon, has gone viral, collecting over 10 million views!

Paul Simon (aged 73 during this performance) joined Joan Baez on stage for a live rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1969 folk hit, “The Boxer,” taken from their final, chart-topping studio album, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Paul played guitar and dueted on vocals with Joan, backed by a second guitarist, Richard Thompson (66), a London-born legend of the folk scene.

Paul and Joan’s duet is as lush as folk can be, both voices aged like fine wine and steeping the song with far more meaning than it once contained. Lyrics such as, “I am older than I once was / And younger than I’ll be; that’s not unusual” rang bittersweet and beautiful while the line, “After changes we are more or less the same” embodied the heart of every ex-hippie of the 60s, decades after the era rolled by.

Twenty-two songs comprised Joan’s NYC birthday set, each performed alongside a veteran artist of her era, including David Crosby (who joined Joan on a cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird”), Damien Rice, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Mixed within these throwback duets were stunning solo takes and two Bob Dylan covers: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and “Forever Young,” which closed the show.

Joan Baez’s birthday gig kicked off her 18-date North American tour of 2016, organized in conjunction with Amnesty International to raise awareness on “the critical and urgent issue of racial and ethnic disparities of incarceration, right here in the United States.”

Joan’s 2016 duet with Paul Simon was hardly the first time she’d covered Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” live on stage. In 1981, she performed a solo cover of this exact same track at the Oakland Auditorium (check out the clip below!), and in 1982, performed the song with Paul Simon himself at The Bread and Roses charity concert. Only a YouTube-uploaded audio recording survives of their original 1982 duet, but ribboned with chatter and blissful harmonies, it’s well worth a listen!

New Yorker, Joan Baez, climbed to fame as a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist of the 60s and 70s folk scene. Her biography is dynamic: since dropping her debut eponymous album in 1960 (followed by a further 24 albums to date), Joan dated Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs before they became famous, was friends with Martin Luther King Jr., performed at Woodstock Festival 1969, and protested against the Vietnam War and, more recently, the US invasion of Iraq. Joan’s activism is closely entangled with her music; even back in 1977, Joan released the track “Altar Boy and the Thief” in dedication to her gay fanbase, as a life-long supporter of LGBT+ rights.

You can enjoy more of the legendary folk singer-songwriter, Joan Baez, on her YouTube Channel, or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. For more information, please visit her official website.

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