Jam session

Did a pick-up song ever sound so good, even with crappy video and so-so audio? The power of Joan Baez’s voice cuts through all the flaws. Here she is in her living room with the great Earl Scruggs (banjo) and his son Randy Scruggs (guitar) playing an extemporaneous version of  “Love is just a four-letter word” (Bob Dylan).

From The Complete Earl Scruggs Story.


  1. 386sx
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Awkward moment at the end where there wasn’t any applause, which Earl filled in with commentary. We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

    • bhoytony
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink

      Yes, no applause, how awkward. I know that when I bang a tune out on my guitar on the settee in my living room the crowd go wild. Usually a lot of crowd surfing, stage diving and chicks throwing their pants at me.

    • Grania
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

      Why would there be applause if this was in her living-room? If this was a jamming session in her home, there might not have been an appreciative audience, just a bored friend or family member or two.

      • 386sx
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        Exactly the point. There was no audience so Earl graciously filled in the applause moment with some commentary. (Which is typical of jam sessions.)

        • 386sx
          Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

          Especially jam sessions where they know they are being filmed for posterity!

  2. Sai
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Here is a better version

    • NMcC
      Posted June 26, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      I’ve just noticed that the ‘B’ side of this record (I’m assuming it is a record) has the title Love Minus Zero/No Minute. Surely that is another Bob Dylan song, which I always thought was titled Love Minus Zero/No Limit.

      Help, I’m confused! (Well, I usually am confused anyway, but even more so in relation to this).

  3. Sai
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this song . It has livened up what has otherwise been a very dull day.

  4. Brian
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    I’m not familiar with the singer’s oeuvre. But here head voice in this clip is not much chop. Turns you off listening. I had to stop. Maybe that’s the audio quality?
    Just my opinion.

    • Brian
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      That was ‘here head voice’.

      • Brian
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

        That was ‘her head voice’.
        3rd time lucky?

  5. NMcC
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Credit where credit is due. Surely that is Scruggs’ other son Gary playing the guitar on the left of the clip?

    Fantastic documentary. It opens with Scruggs playing along with Bob Dylan. Superb!

  6. Dave
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Haven’t heard that in years. Thanks for posting.

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Indeed. And I liked the way Earl seemed to be beaming in a fatherly way toward the end when it was mainly Joan and Randy playing together.

  8. daveau
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink


  9. michieux
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Simply lovely.

  10. j p reid
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Was into “Folk” in the 60s and fell for Joanny and Bobby. Appreciated being able to hear and understand Joan’s versions of Dylan! Now that I’m a sick old Baby Boomer I tend to blub listening to them esp Reunion Hill.

    May I ask Brian through you what “her head voice” means, also does “chop” mean “cop”?


    • Mike Lee
      Posted May 1, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

      No idea where you live JP – but here on the southernmost tip of Africa as a Baby Boomer I go thru the same set of emotions with much of the folk music from that era – especially Dylan!

  11. Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Last week, I wanted to buy a ticket for Bob Dylan, but he was sold out. Probably a good thing, in a way, since it was outside and raining and no reserved seating (meaning I would have had to stand even longer in the rain, or not see anything). But I did get tickets (with reserved seating) for both Paul Simon and Ringo Starr. In all cases, it is more a case of “better see them before they die) (I have never seen any of these people live before) than an expectation of a great concert (not being familiar with recent live work), but you never know (some concerts by old timers are excellent, of course).

    Up there with Bergman’s dance of death (which has a fascinating back story) and the blind girl realising the identity of the Tramp is the scene in Don’t Look Back where Dylan is hammering away at a typewriter and Baez is singing “Percy’s Song”, accompanying herself on guitar, in the background.

    We’ve all heard of six degrees of separation, and I’ve never encountered an instance where I need more steps to link me with someone else. 1 or 2 degrees is more impressive. I’m one of the moderators of the newsgroup sci.physics.research and for many years John Baez, famous physicist and “proto blogger” is her cousin. Wow! (John’s “column”, This week’s finds in mathematical physics, was deemed by some to be the first blog. He’s glad to accept the honour, but thinks “proto blogger” makes him sound too much like homo erectus.

  12. Posted June 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Joan Baez is just brilliant. The electric guitar seems to be drowning out other instrumentalists. There wasn’t really any need for it, with just Joan singing in a tiny space with no natural acoustics. There is nothing worse than singing in an environment with carpet, especially if one has no natural voice projection that does not sound off in a confined space. I follow JB on twitter. Thanks for sharing video with viewers. Second version is just terrific.

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