Bob Dylan Said Joan Baez’s Voice Sounded Like a ‘Siren’ From ‘Some Greek Island’: ‘Just the Sound of It Could Put You Into a Spell’

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez helped each other rise to the top at the beginning of their careers. They gave us some inspiring music and often performed it together in famous duets.

However, in the 1980s, their collaborations came to a grinding halt, and we haven’t heard them sing together since. Now, it’s all water under the bridge (or maybe it’s blowing in the wind?), and looking back, the folk pioneers still cherish their work together.

Joan Baez in black and blue with Bob Dylan dressed in a brown leather jacket during a press conference in Germany, 1984.
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan | Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Joan Baez helped catapult Bob Dylan’s career

By the time Baez met a then-unknown Dylan in 1961, she’d already released her debut album. In 1963, Baez had released three albums, two of which were already gold. She invited Dylan to perform with her during the Newport Folk Festival, and the pair began to casually date and tour together.

According to USA Today, their romance didn’t last past 1965, but they continued to perform together. They encouraged each other to write protest and justice songs. In 1975, Baez accompanied Dylan on his Rolling Thunder Revue, and they dueted on “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Water is Wide,” and “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.”

Dylan and Baez also performed together at the Peace Sunday anti-nuke concert in 1982. However, when they toured together again in 1984, it ended badly.

In her 1987 memoir And a Voice to Sing With (per Rolling Stone), Baez explained that promoter Bill Graham promised her equal billing and the chance to duet with Dylan every night. “But her name was tiny on the poster and she felt disrespected at nearly every turn of the tour,” Rolling Stone wrote.

“He finally invited her out on the third show in Hamburg, West Germany for ragged ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and again in Munich two shows later for ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘ and ‘I Shall be Released.'” The invitations stopped after that, and after a few more stops, Baez quit the tour.

Baez went into Dylan’s dressing room and “leaned over and kissed his sweaty forehead,” Baez wrote in her book.

Later, they both attended the 2010 White House Civil Rights concert, and Baez admitted she avoided Dylan. “The chances of him just walking past me would be too awful a scenario,” she told Rolling Stone in 2017. “It would just bring up feelings that aren’t necessary.”

They haven’t sung together since. However, both fondly look back at their relationship.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez performing together in Germany, 1984.
Bob Dylan and Joan Baez | Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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Dylan loved Baez’s voice and regrets how things ended between them

The “Like A Rolling Stone” singer has never touched on Baez’s swift departure during their 1984 tour. However, he has fondly looked back at his time with Baez.

Dylan praised Baez’s talents in the documentary Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound (per Express). “She had a very unusual way of playing the guitar, I never heard anybody do it like Joanie did,” Dylan said. “And I tried to practice it but I couldn’t get that style down. She had that heart-stopping soprano voice.

“I just couldn’t get it out of my mind… And her range of songs was very unusual for that time. Just a combination of all the things she did which were put together, it seemed like in a miraculous way.”

In a 2017 interview posted on Dylan’s website, he said Baez sounded like a siren. “She was something else, almost too much to take,” Dylan said. “Her voice was like that of a siren from off some Greek island.

“Just the sound of it could put you into a spell. She was an enchantress. You’d have to get yourself strapped to the mast like Odysseus and plug up your ears so you wouldn’t hear her. She’d make you forget who you were.”

In Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, Dylan said, “We could sing anything together. In fact, a lot of times in bed, I’d hear her voice. Joan is so courageous. She always seems like she’s just come down from a meteor.” 

However, in How Sweet the Sound, Dylan expressed his regret on how their relationship turned out. “I was just trying to deal with the madness which had become my career and unfortunately she got swept along and I felt very bad about it,” he said. “I was sorry to see that relationship end.”

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan performing together in 1982.
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

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Baez has come to terms with her and Dylan’s relationship

Likewise, Baez fondly looks back at her collaborations with Dylan. “The charisma that he has, I’ve never seen before or since,” Baez said in Scorsese’s documentary.

In How Sweet the Sound, she said, “When Dylan and his music entered my life, maybe I didn’t know I’d been looking for music, but I was certainly aware that something was missing, particularly when I heard what it was. I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is the link between me and the world and music and politics and all of it. I heard that music and that made it clear that was the direction to go.”

However, Baez is long past what happened in their 1984 tour. Baez explained that it’s all forgotten in an interview with Best Classic Bands. She continued to play his songs in concert too.

“Actually, after all the BS over the years between me and Bob… I never knew how he felt but I started doing his portraits. By the second portrait, I put on all his music randomly and I just cried. I thought ‘Good lord, what am I carping about? I got to know this guy, I got to sing with this guy.’

“Any stuff that was still left vanished. Anything that was resentful or stupid just went. What a treat was that.”

So, at least Dylan apologized to Baez, who in turn was able to move on from the drama. Although, it would have been nice if Dylan showed up during Baez’s farewell tour for one last duet.

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