Joan and Mimi

Speaking of Joan Baez, here she is in that American Masters documentary from 2009, reflecting on her early family life and her relationship to her sister Mimi, seen on the left.

Mimi too was a folk singer, who married fellow folkie Richard Fariňa at 19 and lived happily with him until his death at age 29 (He and Jim Croce, boy. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, Patsy Cline, Aaliyah, John Denver, Ricky Nelson: all lost in crashes both on land and in the air.)

Joan just loved little Mimi. The images of them as little girls are so tender as to break your heart. In the footage below she talks about her dad’s work for the military in the early years, work that eventually caused him to feel conflicted. He became a Quaker; they all became Quakers and he went to work for Unesco and lived in Iraq where they witnessed extreme poverty. And yet as Joan says, she has memories from her time in Baghdad that are inexpressible beautiful. Watch just a little if not all:

And here is another tender bit of video while we are at it, of Joan and Mimi signing “I Shall Be Released” in a prison. At one point during this concert she says to the audience how happy they are to be there. “Some prisons don’t let us in even.”

”The don’t let us OUT!” calls an inmate from the audience and everyone cracks up. That’s kind of a high point here. Another one occurs at around three minutes in, when she brings on the darling blue-eyed Mimi to join her on a song in Spanish and the prisoners explode in unfeigned delighted applause.

You look at their faces, mostly brown and black, and you have to ask yourselves some questions about our justice system. Where’s the white kid busted for distribution of cocaine, or the one that killed his parents? Where is that Fortunate Son? Well I’m taking a turn down a long road here so let me back up and just show you this: