Legendary folk singer Joan Baez, who gained fame in the 60s for her stand against the war in Vietnam and her stand for racial equality, has never slowed down. She remains a believer in nonviolence, and she does all she can to help victims of all forms of injustice. So when I wrote and told her of my dream to commission a peace-and-harmony statue to honor the spirit of the Bosnian people, I thought that she might think it was a good idea. However, I never expected a personal phone call! I was totally overwhelmed when one day out of the blue the phone rang and it was Ms. Baez. I could hardly talk.
Ms. Baez has called since then just to talk or to ask me to ponder something, and she also invited me to be her guest at her concert in Indianapolis on April 7 and arranged for me to have backstage passes. When she came on stage the audience exploded into applause, yet Ms. Baez spoke to the crowd like she was talking to just a couple of old friends -- very down-to-earth, just like with me on the phone. She opened with "If I Wrote You" from her new album Gone From Danger.
The songs went on. My ears absorbed sounds, words, thoughts, tones, and meanings. Ms. Baez's clear voice and her guitar became one. My brain painlessly processed this poetic, philosophical, lyrical mix. I normally listen to soft rock, but I could see there was something deep and pure here. Life and truth were in these songs.
During the concert, Ms. Baez spoke of a young man already actively involved in promoting nonviolence. At 11 years old, I don't think of myself as a young man, so it was only when she went on to tell the story of the Cellist of Sarajevo, which had inspired the young man to work for peace and to commission a statue to be sent to Bosnia as a gift from peace-loving people around the world, that I realized it was me being talked about! Ms. Baez asked me to wave, which I did, and the audience showed their support with lots of applause. Then Ms. Baez dedicated a song to me and the cellist.
After the concert I went backstage and had the best time of my life. I got to spend about an hour with Ms. Baez. (Photo below) She is wonderful. She is real. She has an awesome sense of humor. We talked about many things that we have in common from pacifism to our collections of stuffed animals. She asked me what I like to do when not writing a newspaper or campaigning for my statue. I told her that I play with and collect G.I. Joes! I thought I should explain that, although it seems paradoxical that a self-proclaimed peace activist would like to collect soldiers, I had no problem separating truth from fiction. She understood perfectly and shared that people had criticized her when she bought toy guns for her son! She took me on a tour of her bus, which is a veritable mansion on wheels. I didn't want to say goodbye. We hugged, she tousled my hair.
Back in the hotel and alone with my thoughts, I ate my left over pre-concert supper. It didn't taste the same as it had before the concert. That's the funny part. Many things taste different now than they did before I met Joan.
If you would like to join "Joan and me" in support of a peace-and-harmony statue to be sent as a gift to the long-suffering people of Bosnia, just contact me at email@example.com
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