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Joan Baez's Fighting Side: The Life and Times of a Secret Badass

The Sixties icon helped invent the idea of the protest singer – more than five decades later, she's still at it.

David Browne, Rolling Stone

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http://img.wennermedia.com/620-width/rs-joan-baez-v1-e72ebf91-37fd-4188-a15c-141d6200d523.jpg Joan Baez opens up about her relationship with Bob Dylan, doing drugs with the Grateful Dead, how she overcame paralyzing phobias and more in our career-spanning feature. Justin Kaneps for Rolling Stone

April 5, 2017 | When Joan Baez shared a bill with the Indigo Girls about 20 years ago, a young fan approached, asking for an autograph – for his grandmother. "Tell your grandmother to go fuck herself!" said Baez, who saw the show as a way to connect with a new generation of fans. Today, in the airy kitchen of her home near Palo Alto, California, with its view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and a painting of a nude woman above the fireplace, Baez winces at the memory. "I felt so awful and said, 'I'm sorry – of course I'll sign it.'"

Baez, 76, loves to play against her image as the serene, hyperserious matriarch of folk music. Resting her chin on her hand, she flashes her recent metal-chick tattoo: a series of circles and arrows that rings her right wrist, from a visit to New Zealand with her son, Gabe. "Most mothers would say, 'Oh, honey, really?' " she says proudly. "But I said, 'Ooh, can I get one too?' " In 2010, when she was invited to perform at a White House celebration of music from the civil-rights era, Baez refused a request, from Michelle Obama, to sing "If I Had a Hammer." "That is the most annoying song," Baez says. "I told them, 'If I had a hammer – I'd hit myself on the head. Ain't gonna do it.' "

David Browne, Contributor, Rolling Stone

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