The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17515   Message #1437133
Posted By: PoppaGator
17-Mar-05 - 04:31 PM
Thread Name: Greatest protest singer of the sixties
Subject: RE: Greatest protest singer of the sixties
"...And if Joanie ain't ethnic, what is?"

The last adjective I'd use to describe Joan Baez would be "ethnic," which I take to mean down-home, funky, ragged-but-right. She is an important figure and a beautiful singer, but she sure ain't no Big Mama Thornton.

Her sincerity is certainly not in question, and her style can certainly be characterized as "unadorned," which makes her in some sense partake of the simplicity which is part of what the term "ethnic" implies, but her approach is so pristine and so careful that I find her far too high-culture, too academic, to classify her as "ethnic."

Of course, strictly speaking, the word "ethnic" means nothing more than "pertaining to some [unspecified] tribal or national group." In practice, we usually understand it to imply some connection with out-of-the-mainstream nationalities and groups. Joanie just ain't there; while she does not represent the WASP aristocracy, she certainly seems to personify the upper-middle-class artsy/bohemian culture. (That's not a criticism; it's a group I would gladly join, if I only had the money!)