Exclusive: Joan Baez Talks About Retiring In ‘I Am a Noise’ Clip

Joan Baez is much more than a musician. She’s a cultural force. Her music defined a generation and continues to inspire her progeny in the folk space. While fans will always have her golden catalog to return to, the chance to see Baez on the road expired in 2019. Her ruminations about the end of her sprawling career on the road have been documented in a new film, Joan Baez I Am A Noise.

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The project, billed as “Neither a conventional biopic nor a traditional concert film,” takes the viewer behind the scenes of Baez’s final tour and other milestones in her iconic career. A release calls it a “Searingly honest look at a living legend.”

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Among the topics covered in the project are Baez’s relationship with Bob Dylan and her civil rights activism alongside Martin Luther King Jr. The storyline is bolstered by archival material including home movies, diaries, artwork, therapy tapes, and audio recordings.

“Documentaries about well-known people are inherently tricky,” co-director Karen O’Connor said in a statement. “Typically, much is already known and a presented narrative is often carefully curated and controlled. But Baez, who has been a good friend of mine since 1989, was ready as never before to take an unflinching look at her own life–free of hagiography and dewy-eyed nostalgia.

“Although Joan understood, from the beginning, that she wouldn’t have any control over the film, there was never a time when she held back or hesitated from digging into the harder, darker truths of her life, which gave us a rare opportunity to make a film about Joan Baez that could be honest, complicated, funny and layered as the woman herself,” she continued.

American Songwriter is exclusively premiering a clip from Joan Baez I Am A Noise, below. In the clip, Baez can be heard talking about her decision to retire from touring.

“I didn’t get the feeling that we were really slowing down until this tour,” Baez says in the clip. “It blindsided me. ‘Did I make a dumb decision? Am I really not going to be out with my family on tour, which is what I’ve spent a third of my life doing?’

“I’ve just tried to feel what it is feeling like, instead of shoving it under a rug somewhere,” she continues. “There will always be some regret, no matter when I quit.”

The documentary is set to premiere in New York today (October 6) and select theaters nationwide on October 13.

Photo: Albert Baez / courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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