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Dark Chords on a Big Guitar

Joan BaezAudio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 10 Songs, 2003 $8.99  
Audio CD, Import, 2005 $11.17  
Audio CD, 2003 --  

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Sleeper 4:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. In My Time Of Need 4:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. rosemary Moore 5:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Caleb Meyer 2:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Motherland 4:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Wings 4:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Rexroth's Daughter 5:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Elvis Presley Blues 4:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. King's Highway 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Christmas In Washington 5:13$0.99  Buy MP3 

Amazon's Joan Baez Store


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God is God


How do you build a narrative for a story as rich and multifaceted as the life of Joan Baez? Baez herself is not especially inclined to introspection, or to the backwards glance. Often wrongly perceived as a naïve idealist, she is, in her own distinctive way, a pragmatist to the core with her eyes fixed squarely on what’s right in front of her. As an activist, she has viewed her life ... Read more in Amazon's Joan Baez Store

Visit Amazon's Joan Baez Store
for 119 albums, 4 photos, videos, and 3 full streaming songs.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 9, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Koch Records
  • ASIN: B0000AINL7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,489 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Though she was earliest known as a folk traditionalist, Joan Baez has long been recognized for her good taste in contemporary songcraft. Four decades after introducing the young Bob Dylan to a wider listenership, she here finds kindred spirits in a range of artists from Greg Brown ("Sleeper," "Rexrith's Daughter") to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings ("Caleb Meyer," "Elvis Presley Blues") to Natalie Merchant (whose "Motherland" could have been written made to order for Baez) to young Josh Ritter ("Wings"). Her empathic version of the standout "In My Time of Need" by Ryan Adams shows that whatever she's lost in the upper register of her soprano, she's gained in the interpretive depth of her lower register. She also covers the comparatively quirky "Rosemary Moore" by Adams' former Whiskeytown bandmate, Caitlin Cary. Though the closing "Christmas in Washington" finds her pristine vocal smoothing the emotional rough edges from Steve Earle's original, most of the rest finds her not only selecting inspired material, but doing justice to it. --Don McLeese

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly, one of Baez's best albums! September 10, 2003
Format:Audio CD
I must say that I was extremely sceptical when I heard that Joan Baez was going to release a new album. I knew that she had lost some of her vocal range, and modern productions have a tendency to diminish the impact of records by veteran artists.
However, while Baez's voice is not the same as it was in the 60s or 70s, it is much lower, huskier, and ultimately warmer and more accessible than ever before. The production, while definitely modern, fortunately never gets in the way of the material.
The album's strongest suit, however, is the songs themselves. Baez has always had a knack for finding great material from other artists, and all ten songs here are fantastic. She did not include any of her own compositions (she claims to have given up writing songs), but that is hardly missed at all. The writing, despite being the work of many different pens, is uniformly dark and ominous. However, many tracks are simultaneously sultry and exciting, which makes for a fine listen both the first time around and after repeated listenings. There is a folk-rock core to the songs, but over this is an interesting mixture of blues, jazz, and occasionally a fairly hard (for Baez) rock sound. This is one of her best albums, and certainly her most consistent. Not even Diamonds and Rust or Any Day Now had this depth of emotion or unity of texture.
Perhaps the most effective review I can give this album is this: I hope Baez puts out another album like this, and soon. Thanks, Joan!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan's new "older" voice September 28, 2003
Format:Audio CD
Like other Dark Chords reviewers I feel that Joan Baez is
choosing to use her voice in a particular way on this recording in a way that suits the music, the songs themselves and the times we are living in. It is a number of years since I heard Joan Baez sing live -1997, I think - when she sang "Matty Groves", from one of her earliest recordings in full soprano and faultlessly - all 22 verses! These songs on Dark Chords would not sound right sung in a high soprano voice: they are more earthy and I think Joan's treatment of them on this CD is no less than superb. To my ear this CD sounds as good - and at times as raw - as a live performance. It's true that Joan's voice is changing over time but she seems to be rising
wonderfully to the challenge of a new style suggested by the songs themselves. I feel, too, that her singing voice is now much closer than before to her speaking voice which always has to my mind been much deeper than her "achingly pure soprano" when singing. Her current singing style has a contemporary edge to it, which is likely to get more people listening to her work and more radio playing than was maybe the case previously. People I have played the CD to are using words like "mellow" and comment how well the voice and the band blend on most tracks. I was pleased to see Dark Chord listed on some website
under "Adult Contemporary". This recording seems to be leaning
towards commercial values without compromising the integrity of Joan, the main performer, or her beliefs. Joan Baez is back on the music scene (though for her die-hard fans she has always been there.) All this just to say that I like this CD very much!!! Go on, treat yourself! Buy Dark Chords on a Big Guitat and revel in the quality of a lovingly put-together piece of music craft!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite Baez January 20, 2005
Format:Audio CD
My only complaint is recording quality. The selection of music and Baez's voice and arrangements is wonderful. This is a more rocked-out version of Baez than we are used to.

Among my favorites are "Sleeper" the opening song, a sensuous tale of lovers, "Caleb Meyer" a tale of a feisty woman fighting off a would-be rapist:

Caleb Meyer your ghost is goin

To wear those rattlin chains

WHen I go to sleep at night

Don't you call my name

I've been a fan of Baez for years and this is something of a departure from what you'll normally hear, but I think an enjoyable listen. Her voice and choice of music is always worthwhile.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep as the Ocean September 30, 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Joan Baez's new CD is an incredible achievement, one of the year's best. Since the days when she was a major proponent of the works of Bob Dylan, she has had a knack for finding and recording some of our best songwriters. On "Dark Chords," she not only finds the right songwriters, but the right songs and surpasses the originals. Steve Earle's "Christmas in Washington" is a song that I never particularly liked in its original form. Joan embodies the song completely, inhabiting its spiritual and political implications. Duke McVinnie who has worked with Johnny Otis & J.J. Cale does a wonderful job with his dreamy guitar. On Natalie Merchant's "Motherland," Joan totally adopts the song finding levels of pathos that slept in Merchant's original fine recording, "The lust and the avarice, the bottomless, the cavernous greed, is that what you see?" Josh Ritter's "Golden Age of Radio" was one of the strongest CDs in recent years. Joan takes his "Wings" and creates a dreamy folk epic, "What makes the water holy she says is that it's the closest thing to rain." Greg Brown's "Rexroth's Daughter" is a marvelous folk tune that could have easily fit into some of Joan's earliest recordings with its themes of rape and retribution. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings' "Caleb Meyer" is about as raucous as Joan gets on this set with McVinnie's electric guitar churning ominously underneath the upbeat tempo. Caitlin Cary's "Rosemary Moore" is another great story song, a marvelous folk ballad. I suppose comparisons will ultimately be made to Emmylou Harris' "Wrecking Ball" with Dark Chord's somber themes and churning guitars. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A musical style unlike the Joan Baez in the last century
Published 1 month ago by David L. Iven
2.0 out of 5 stars The fantastic voice is GONE.
I've been a fan of Ms Baez since her early coffee house days. Sad to say her beautiful god-given voice is gone. It might not matter if she had chosen better songs. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Blue Desert
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Chords on a Big Guitar
Shows the diversity of Joan Baez taste in music and her incredible voice. Her voice is even better with age! Especially love "Christmas in Washington"
Published on March 22, 2012 by swannfreather
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Joan Baez Album Yet!
I have been listening to Joan Baez since the 60's, and have continued to follow her through the decades, having seen her perform live several times. Read more
Published on November 10, 2009 by Naomi Manygoats
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan Baez Shines Brightly in "DARK CHORDS ON A BIG GUITAR"
Joan Baez is many things to many people-a political activist, a pacifist, a writer, a musician. But, most of all, Joan Baez is a singer of rare and unequalled talent. Read more
Published on March 27, 2007 by William S. Rothstein
4.0 out of 5 stars Big sounds from a favorite voice
Far from settling into the oldies circuit and rehashing the same work over and over, Joan Baez moves into a new century on the strength of "Dark Chords On A Big Guitar. Read more
Published on January 7, 2007 by Tim Brough
4.0 out of 5 stars This Sleeper Is A Keeper!
Some of you old folkies out there need to get over the past and join the present. Those who complained about the heavy instrumentation and distortion on this recording must still... Read more
Published on September 2, 2005 by Mark D. Prouse
4.0 out of 5 stars Jaon Baez, still angelic, but not as creative
I was THRILLED to run out and buy the newset musical collection from one of my all time favorite folk artist, Joan Baez. Read more
Published on November 20, 2004 by Dusty Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars A little over-rated but still ok
I love Joan Baez's music and consider her to be the most prolific female/singer-songwritter in the past 100 years. Read more
Published on April 15, 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan is all grown up!
This is my first Joan Baez CD. I have heard her music on the radio before, but it never captured my attention. This CD takes you on musical adventure. Read more
Published on March 31, 2004 by Kelly Hatfield
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