|Joan BaezBowery Songs, the newest album from Joan Baez and her first live album in ten years, is a soaring chronicle of her 2003-2004 tour. The album was recorded in its entirety on the Saturday night after Election Day, November 2004, at New York's Bowery Ballroom. From Joan's opening acapella benediction, "Finlandia," to her prophetic and telling versions of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and Steve Earle's "Jerusalem" that close the album, there can be no mistaking the medium and the message she sought to capture.One of the album's centerpieces is Earle's "Christmas in Washington" ("So come back Woody Guthrie/Come back to us now..."), one of three 'Bowery songs' that originated on Joan's most recent studio album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar (released in September 2003). The others are Greg Brown's "Rexroth's Daughter" (whose lyric gave the album its title) and Natalie Merchant's "Motherland," all of which have become staples in Joan's repertoire.The spirit of Woody Guthrie hovers throughout Bowery Songs. Joan has been singing "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" since the 1960s, but this is her first live release of the song. Bob Dylan also figures in the program. "Farewell, Angelina" was the title tune of her 1965 LP that contained two Guthrie songs and four Dylan songs, one of which was "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Joan also assays Dylan's "Seven Curses" of 1963, which was his free adaptation of the old Child ballad "The Maid Freed From the Gallows" aka "Anathea." Another tune associated with Dylan and his mentor Dave Van Ronk is "Dink's Song," collected by Alan Lomax, which Joan sang with Bob on 1976's Rolling Thunder Revue.Bowery Songs reminds us that at crucial moments during her long and storied career - which is to say, at crucial moments in America's history over the past four decades and then some - Joan has recorded and released live performance albums that have served as critical barometers of our times. 1963's In Concert, Part 1 and In Concert, Part 2 LPs (Vanguard) were recorded during Joan's first full-scale major cross-country tours, just three years into the start of her career in the heat of the Civil Rights movement and the nascent Free Speech and anti-war struggles, and in the blush of he early involvement with the music and soul of Bob Dylan.