top of page
  • Kathy Shimpock

Joan Baez (1941 - ) Singing to Change the World

In the past, we had the stories of powerful older women. Some were called crones. It was a term that once meant crown, but was later used to define an ugly old woman. Feminists now use the term to mean the female elder, which is how I also use it. According to scholar Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the Crone is "the one who sees far, who looks into the spaces between the worlds and can literally see what is coming, what has been, and what is now and what underlies and stands behind many things. [...] The Crone represents the ability to see, more than just with one’s eyes alone, but to see with the heart’s eyes, with the soul’s eyes, through the eyes of the creative force and the animating force of the psyche."

During these days of uncertainty, many women seek strong, positive, wise and vital examples of aging.  Fortunately, such role models exist. These women embody the character of the wise old woman archetype. Their lives provide inspiration and guidance for the darkest of days. Joan Baez is one of these women. There are many more; we only have to open our eyes to see them.

By Jtgphoto - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Joan Baez is a singer, songwriter, and activist for social justice (marching with Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela). Her presence and music filled the ’60s. At age 82, she is no longer touring but still releasing music for our times. In the song “I Wish The Wars Were All Over,” from her new album “Whistle Down The Wind,” Joan asks, “Will a better world come? I don't know. But we have to do our work for a just and loving society whether the end comes tomorrow or whether we are still holding fast for generations to come.”

You might be surprised to learn that Joan struggled throughout her life with panic attacks. She discovered a way to soothe them by drawing with her non-dominant hand UPSIDE DOWN! Now she has issued a new book of her drawings, “Am I Pretty When I Fly?: An Album of Upside Down Drawings.” It shows that creativity has no end date, only the continuing desire to explore and grow. When asked why she draws this way, she answers, “We don’t need an explanation for every damn thing. There’s much to be said for letting go and doing something simply because it feels right.”  Amen to that, sister! Worthy of any wise crone too!

This article (“I would literally paint until I walked out on stage…”) from the San Francisco Chronicle provides an interview and photographs of her work. Wouldn’t you love to call her on the phone and talk about what is “ours to do”?

My favorite song from Joan Baez is “Diamonds and Rust.” She sang it with Lana Del Rey in 2019. “Hello, children,” she began, looking beautiful as always.

(BTW, you can hear her new album on Spotify if you have an account.)

Who is a wise old woman/crone role model to you?

6 views0 comments


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page