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She sang in coffeehouses in and around Harvard Square that were populated by what might be called the Harvard underworlddrifters, somewhat beat, with Penguin classics protruding from their blue jeans and no official standing at Harvard or anywhere else. They pretended they were Harvard students, ate in the university dining halls and sat in on some classes. Joan Baez, who has long been thought of as a sort of otherworldly beatnik because of her remote manner, long hair, bare feet and burlap wardrobe, actually felt distaste for these academic bums from the start. "They just lie in their pads, smoke pot, and do stupid things like that," she says.
They were her first audiences, plus Harvard boys and general citizens who grew in number until the bums were choked out. She was often rough on them all. She ignored their requests if she chose to. When one patron lisped a request to her, she cruelly lisped in reply. When another singer turned sour in performance, Joan suddenly stood up in the back of the room and began to sing, vocally stabbing the hapless girl on the stage into silence.
Sometime Thing. She made one friend. His name is Michael New. He is Trinidad English, 23 years old, and apparently aimlessa sulky, moody, pouting fellow whose hair hangs down in golden ringlets. He may go down in history as the scholar who spent three years at Harvard as a freshman. "I was sure it would only last two weeks as usual," says Joan. "But then after three weeks there we were, still together. We were passionately, insanely, irrationally in love for the first few months. Then we started bickering and quarreling violently." Michael now disappears for months at a time. But he always comes back to her, and she sometimes introduces him as her husband.
In the summer of 1959, another folk singer invited her to the first Folk Festival at Newport, R.I. Her clear-lighted voice poured over the 13,000 people collected there and chilled them with surprise. The record-company leg-and-fang men closed in. "Would you like to meet Mitch, Baby?" said a representative of Columbia Records, dropping the magic name of Mitch Miller, who is Columbia's top pop artists-and-repertory man when he isn't waving to his mother on TV.
"Who's Mitch?" said Joan.
The record companies were getting a rude surprise. Through bunk and ballyhoo, they had for decades been turning sows' ears into silk purses. Now they had found a silk purse that had no desire to become a sow's ear. The girl did not want to be exploited, squeezed, and stuffed with cash. Joan eventually signed with a little outfit called Vanguard, which is now a considerably bigger outfit called Vanguard.
Cats & Doctors. Somewhere along the line, Joan Baez' family became Quakers, but Joan herself is not a Friend. "Living is my religion," she says. She practices it currently on California's rugged coast. She has lived there for more than a year, including eight months in the Big Sur region in a squalid cabin with five cats and five dogs. The cabin was a frail barque adrift on a sea of mud, and sometimes when Joan opened the