Sweet Sir Galahad

Last updated
"Sweet Sir Galahad"
Single by Joan Baez
from the album One Day at a Time
B-side "Long Black Veil"
ReleasedOctober 1969
RecordedSeptember 1969, Bradley's Barn, Nashville
Genre Folk
Label Vanguard (UK)
Vanguard (US)
Songwriter(s) Joan Baez
Producer(s) Maynard Solomon
Joan Baez
Joan Baez singles chronology
"Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word"
"Sweet Sir Galahad"
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

"Sweet Sir Galahad" is a song written by Joan Baez that she famously performed at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, [1] after having debuted it during an appearance in a Season Three episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour , which aired on March 30, 1969. A recording of the song, first released as a single in late 1969, would lead off Baez's 1970 album One Day at a Time .



The song tells the story of Baez's younger sister Mimi Fariña and her marriage (her second) to music producer Milan Melvin. (Mimi's first husband Richard Fariña had died in a motorcycle accident two years previously.) Mimi and Milan were married at the 1968 Big Sur Folk Festival. Baez was inspired to write the song after hearing of Melvin's courtship of Fariña, during which he came into her bedroom at night through a window. [2]

The song became one of Baez's best-known compositions. In her 1987 memoir And a Voice to Sing With, Baez described "Sweet Sir Galahad" as the first song she ever wrote (although she is credited as a co-writer on two tracks on her 1967 album Joan ). [3]

Mimi Fariña and Milan Melvin divorced in 1971 and Mimi died in 2001. In 2006, Baez contributed a "re-tooled" version of the song to Volume 1 of the XM Artist Confidential CD series. In the new version, Baez changed the lyric "Here's to the dawn of their days" to "Here's to the dawn of her days."

A live version of the song appears as a bonus track on the 2006 reissue of Baez's 1995 album Ring Them Bells .

A cover version was sung by Sarah Lee Guthrie (daughter of Arlo Guthrie), and may be heard on youtube.

Related Research Articles

Joan Baez American musician

Joan Chandos Baez is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. Her contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest and social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages.

<i>Come from the Shadows</i> 1972 studio album by Joan Baez

Come from the Shadows is an 1972 album by Joan Baez. After recording for the independent label Vanguard for more than a decade, Baez signed with A&M, and attempted to point her career in a slightly more "commercial" direction. In addition to her own compositions such as "Prison Trilogy","Love Song to a Stranger", "Myths", and "To Bobby", Baez included John Lennon's "Imagine", Anna Marly's "Song of the Partisan", and Mimi Fariña's "In the Quiet Morning ".

<i>Gulf Winds</i> 1976 studio album by Joan Baez

Gulf Winds is a 1976 album by Joan Baez, her final album of new material for A&M. Baez stated in her autobiography, And a Voice to Sing With, that most of the songs were written while on tour with the Rolling Thunder Revue with Bob Dylan. "O Brother!" was a clever reply to Dylan's song "Oh Sister". On the title song, a ten-minute long autobiographical recollection of her childhood, Baez accompanies herself only with her own acoustic guitar, creating a sound reminiscent of her earliest pure folk recordings.

<i>Where Are You Now, My Son?</i> 1973 studio album by Joan Baez

Where Are You Now, My Son? is an album by Joan Baez, released in 1973. One side of the album featured recordings Baez made during a US bombing raid on Hanoi over Christmas 1972. Included on the recording are the voices of Barry Romo, Michael Allen and human rights attorney Telford Taylor, with whom Baez made her famous 1972 visit to North Vietnam.

<i>Ring Them Bells</i> 1995 live album by Joan Baez

Ring Them Bells is a live album taken from Joan Baez' April 1995 shows at New York's The Bottom Line. In addition to her own solo set, the album featured collaborations with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mimi Farina, Dar Williams, the Indigo Girls and Mary Black. Though Baez and many of the collaborating artists were admirers of one another, this album marked the first time many of them had worked together. Baez' manager, Mark Spector, served as producer.

<i>One Day at a Time</i> (Joan Baez album) 1970 studio album by Joan Baez

One Day at a Time is a 1970 album by Joan Baez. Recorded in Nashville, the album was a continuation of Baez' experimentation with country music, begun with the previous year's David's Album. It is significant in that it was the first to include Baez' own compositions, "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "A Song for David", the former song a ballad for her younger sister Mimi Fariña, and the latter song being for her then husband, David Harris, at the time in prison as a conscientious objector. One Day at a Time also included work by The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson and Pete Seeger.

<i>Joan</i> (album) 1967 studio album by Joan Baez

Joan is a 1967 album by Joan Baez. Having exhausted the standard voice/guitar folksong format by 1967, Baez collaborated with arranger-conductor Peter Schickele, on an album of orchestrated covers of mostly then-current pop and rock and roll songs. Works by Donovan, Paul Simon, Tim Hardin, the Beatles, and Richard Fariña were included, as well as selections by Jacques Brel and Edgar Allan Poe.

Mimi Fariña American musician

Margarita Mimi Baez Fariña was an American singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez. She was the younger sister of the singer and activist Joan Baez.

<i>Rare, Live & Classic</i> 1993 box set by Joan Baez

Rare, Live & Classic is a 1993 box set compilation by Joan Baez. Released on Vanguard, where Baez had recorded her most influential work during the first twelve years of her career, the set also included material from her subsequent record labels, A&M, Columbia and Gold Castle Records, as well as a number of previously unreleased studio and live recordings. Bob Dylan, Bob Gibson, Mimi Fariña, Judy Collins, Odetta and Kris Kristofferson are among those who make guest appearances on the various tracks; also included were two tracks from a never-released album recorded in 1981 with the Grateful Dead.

<i>Joan Baez: Classics</i> 1986 greatest hits album by Joan Baez

Joan Baez: Classics is a 1986 compilation, focusing on her A&M period (1972–76). Released in the mid-1980s, the album was significant for being the first Joan Baez compilation to appear on CD, and remains one of the more comprehensive collections of her 1970's work. The CD was part of A&M's series of compilations from artists associated with their label to commemorate their 25th anniversary.

"Deportee " is a protest song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by Martin Hoffman detailing the January 28, 1948 crash of a plane near Los Gatos Canyon, 20 miles (32 km) west of Coalinga in Fresno County, California, United States. The crash occurred in Los Gatos Canyon and not in the town of Los Gatos itself, which is in Santa Clara County, approximately 150 miles away. Guthrie was inspired to write the song by what he considered the racist mistreatment of the passengers before and after the accident. The crash resulted in the deaths of 32 people, 4 Americans and 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported from California back to Mexico.

Richard Fariña

Richard George Fariña was an American folksinger, songwriter, poet and novelist.

'Linda Solomon is an American music critic and editor. Although she has written about various aspects of popular culture, her main focus has been on folk music, blues, R&B, jazz and country music. Living at 95 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village during the early 1960s, she became a columnist for The Village Voice, capturing Village night life in club reviews for the weekly "Riffs" column.

Albert Vinicio Báez was a Mexican-American physicist and the father of singers Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña, and an uncle of John C. Baez. He made important contributions to the early development of X-ray microscopes and later X-ray telescopes.

"Diamonds & Rust" is a song written, composed, and performed by Joan Baez. It was written in November 1974 and released in 1975.

American folk music revival 20th-century American musical movement

The American folk music revival began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Josh White, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, Billie Holiday, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Oscar Brand, Jean Ritchie, John Jacob Niles, Susan Reed, Paul Robeson, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Cisco Houston had enjoyed a limited general popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. The revival brought forward styles of American folk music that had in earlier times contributed to the development of country and western, blues, jazz, and rock and roll music.

Contemporary folk music

Contemporary folk music refers to a wide variety of genres that emerged in the mid 20th century and afterwards which were associated with traditional folk music. Starting in the mid-20th century a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. The most common name for this new form of music is also "folk music", but is often called "contemporary folk music" or "folk revival music" to make the distinction. The transition was somewhat centered in the US and is also called the American folk music revival. Fusion genres such as folk rock and others also evolved within this phenomenon. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, it often shares the same English name, performers and venues as traditional folk music; even individual songs may be a blend of the two.

Celebration at Big Sur is a film of the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival in Big Sur, California, featuring Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and others.

Jules Halfant was an American painter and printmaker. He is notable as a Federal Art Project (FAP) artist during the Great Depression of the 1930s in both mural and easel categories of the New York Works Progress Administration (WPA). While in the WPA, he worked alongside such well-known artists as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Milton Avery and Stuart Davis. From 1953 to 1988 Jules Halfant was Art Director of Vanguard Records where he designed albums featuring Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Country Joe and the Fish, Buffy Sainte-Marie and many other musicians.

Big Sur Folk Festival

The Big Sur Folk Festival, held from 1964 to 1971 in California, was an informal gathering of prominent and emerging folk artists from across the United States. Nancy Jane Carlen (1941-2013) was working at the Esalen Institute when Joan Baez was asked to lead workshops on music. Carlen was a good friend of Baez, and they decided to invite other artists, which turned into the first festival.


  1. Pete Fornatale (30 June 2009). Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock. Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–. ISBN   978-1-4165-9677-6.
  2. Markus Jaeger (1 April 2010). Popular Is Not Enough: The Political Voice Of Joan Baez: A Case Study In The Biographical Method. Columbia University Press. p. 109. ISBN   978-3-8382-0106-1.
  3. Joan Baez (10 April 2012). And A Voice to Sing With: A Memoir. Simon & Schuster. pp. 317–. ISBN   978-1-4516-8840-5.