Joan Baez: "I'm singing this song for the people of Iran"


by FG

Is there anything more powerful than certain songs or videos when it comes to inspiring millions of peoople to defy their oppressors? Joan Baez's versions of "We shall overcome" and "Amazing Grace" were powerful theme songs of the successful civil rights movement in America in the the 1960's. Taken up by protestors they became part of the movement's heart and soul.

Listen to Joan's earlier versions as well as this song if you get the chance.

The USA is the birthplace of so much that is enjoyably "corrupt" and seductively appealing: jazz, rock 'n roll, barbie dolls, Madonna, the internet, You Tube, Facebook and I pods. I'm leaving out past goodies like the mini-skirt. The mullahs wake up screaming after nightmares in which their daughters wear bikinis, sing rap songs and offer the middle finger. No wonder if they rage against "western influence" and America above all ("the Great Satan)! If only the USA (a creative cauldron) and all western democracies would disappear to some planet in the Andromeda galaxy maybe Iranians and Arabs could settle down.

Better ideas always triumph in the end. Arabs nor Iranians require CIA and Mossad agents to convince them that human rights, freedom and democracy are good ideas. As an anthem of protest "We Shall Overcome" has appeal that is so natural, so deep, so universal and so intrinsic. Arabic translations are now spreading rapidly among Middle East protestors everywhere. Will it become the theme song of upcoming Iranian demonstrations as well. Will it descend from the rooftops? Will bands and singers take it up everywhere? Except for xenophobes, will it matter that something so appealing originated in the USA? People sometimes forget that Baez herself is of Middle Eastern heritage (Lebanon).

So now Khamenei gets to play in role which once belonged to southern sheriff Bull Conner, complete with snarling police dogs. Will Iran's ruling mullahs make this song illegal? If they do, why should it have any more effect than laws against political graffiti or against appealing for an election boycotts? Perhaps the regime will even try to use the song in reverse. Imagine Basilj thugs singing "We Shall Overcome" as they ride over demonstrators on their motorcycles. I doubt such a display will bring tears of sympathy for Khamenei and his ruling circle.

Sung in Persian by thousands of demonstrations, what emotional effect will "We Shall Overcome" have on Khamenei's troops and snipers given unpalatable orders? It's not as if Khamenei's troops were redneck southern cops confronting a sea of black faces. Many soldiers say they have already seen the bruised or dead bodies of family members, neighbors, liberal mullahs, schoolmate and acquaintences. Many complain of being ordered to protect Khamenei's brownshirts stomping of funeral mourners and trashing mosques and homes of regime critics. They will not remain loyal for long when close friends defect or are shot for attempting to do so.


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 "A Country that Loses it's Poetic Vision is a Country that faces death"-Saul Bellow.




"Arabic translations... spreading rapidly.."

by Rea on

Where, what country ?

Heck, I must've missed something.

Her best ever. 



re: the nuclear scientist and who did it.

by FG on

I can't rule out the regime but I'd put it in second place as a suspect.  My first guess would be Israel, maybe but not necessarily with some help from radicalized elements in the opposition. 

Israel's cocky responses to such accusations sound like "So what are you going to do about it?"  Refusing to deny or admit responsibility outright, the Israelis sure come close to boasting. 

As the likely first target for Iran's nukes, Israel has by far the best motives.  Once Iran has nukes and if Israel is attacked (no matter by whom), the regime will be considered the automatic perp because of known past tendencies for recklessness.  I doubt the Israels would wait for denials or believe any.  Response could occur in well under 15 minutes and will likely include several nukes.  Qom would go for sure.  No hotline would stop a response.

The US is a lessly candidate for a nuclear attack from the regime but can't rule it out completely, knowing the regime's tendency to create crises so that it can feed on the resulting xenophobia.  The US could be targeted as the prime source of cultural and political "contamination."  

Still, I doubt the US is killing those nuclear scientists for three good reasons:

1. OBAMA'S PERSONAL STYLE.  I doubt Obama would approve attack on civilians, even nuclear scientists.  This is Obama, not Governor Perry or Ms. Bachman.

Would Obama arm and trainIranian civilians to target security force thugs only.  He might, mainly as a tit-for-tat response to the mullocracy.  The regime has long used proxies and Al Qud to attack to kidnap or kill US troops and civilians.  So why not return the favor. For Khamenei to complain would be akin to a bully crying, "You hit me back!"

2. LACK OF CAPAPABILITY The US lacks the human resources on the ground to carry out so many operations successful.  At best it might manage one.  Israel has such resources in spades and has the luxury of concentrating most of its intelligence resoures on the region and Iran above all.  Israeli resouces can go where we can't and they hardly need a request from us to motivate them when it comes to Iranian nukes. 

3. LESS REASON TO FEAR IRANIAN NUKES: For domestic Iranian reasons, the US can't be ruled out as a potential nuclear target for nukes but not to the same degree as Israel. 

Even so, we might well respond with nukes and only a fool would believe Khamenei denials.   Who else would nuke us via missiles?  North Korea is nuts but would get little domestic benefit.  Pakistan?  Not under the present governemnt but it would be an automatic recipient if the US were targeted after radical Islamists took over that country.

Many Iranians not fond of the regime think developing nukes is a great idea. If Iran gets them, the Saudis MUST and WILL do likewise.  Who else will follow?  If that happens, will it be easier to sleep at night?


very nice, thank you very much.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

I enjoyed listening to it.

During the post fraudulent election uprisings, I remeber people would borrow some of the songs from 1979 revolution (bar pa khiz, etc), and of course many many slogans. My favourite remains the Quds day's:

na ghaze, na lobnaan, jaanam fadaaye iran.... 

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."



by FG on

Unless Khoumeini's grandson runs for president and manages to win in 2013 (in which case he'll seek a new constitution abolishing clerical rule), to say "no demonstrations" is to doom Iranians to Islamic Republic forever.   Access my tag and look for what I  wrote about this early.  

I believe Khoumeini is the sole person in Iran who can get rid of the IRI without a bloody civil war.  By 2013, many who wavering supporters of the regime may well switch to supporting him.   Given the shrinking circle of support for Khamenei (a bully as well as a failure at leadership) that's not good news for the IRI.

All the experts thought Assad could stop demonstrations easily and it hasn't happened.    New demonstrations will break out in Iran when people can't take anymore (and an oil boycott could be critical to that).    If, not long after the demonstrations start, you see the beginning of military defections, political ones will begin soon afterward.  At that point the end will be certain.   It's just a matter of getting the ball rolling.

If Ahmadinejad's faction is barred or cheated in the Majlis elections (and how else can they be stopped with ex-reformers boycotting and the mullahs so hated), many in their ranks will join the opposition.  An oil boycott will have passed by then but the deadline for all parties to participate will be June or July.  In the economic consequences that follow, I'm not sure any amount of force will prevent an eruption.


1. The demonstrations must be spontaneous, widespread and persistent and in numbers than and shift demonstrations to where security forces ain't. 

That makes crackdown difficult and wears down security forces.  They can't be everywhere at one time and will have to pick and choose. Soon after they appear, dissove and let people elsewhere demonstrate.

It wouldn't take many defections (military or from insiders) to start unraveling this regime.  Last time there were virtually none.   Having a military wing of the opposition early would help encourage military defections which encourages political insiders to desert a sinking ship.

2. Coordination among supporters must be far more effective and covert as in Syria. 

Leaders must be hard to identify and arrest.   A key is to keep the regime off guard, so it has no idea where to allocate resouces until the last minute.  Such resources are not enless.   They also can be worn down.

The opposition in Iran needs to contact with the opposition in Syria for some tips.  If Assad has fallen, they should welcome volunteer fighters, regardless of religious sect.  Enduring America has started a fine series on what the Syrians have been up to.  Check it out.  Their tactics have been way more effective than the Greens were.

3. The working class and poor must launch these demonstrations, not the middle class who can join them.

In Syria a fed-up working class and the poor must have taken the lead. It is the middle class that lags. 

The post-2009 demonstrations depended too much on the middle class, failed to address working class grievances and allowed the regime to paint them as a bunch of well-off snobs. 

One problem Iran's discontented have unlike their Syrian counterparts is that  , while the most excessively pious are found among the poor and working class in both countries, Iran is led by clerics--a class usually trusted by the pious under normal conditions.  I believe the crime and greed of the ultra-conservative clerics is gradually undoing pious support.  Retail details like reports on how Khamenei's son stole two billion dollars can be darn helpful.

In Renaissance Italy the most pious were the quickest to be offended by the immoral excesses of the bad Popes.   Ditto in Germany and elsewhere where a movement began to "purify" the church of invented practices.  

4. An oil boycott and the economic consequences that follow could be critical with so many other unfavorable developments at the same time (including possibly Assad's fall).

Once underway the oil boycott won't go away until the regime is gone.  Ditto for all present sanctions.  They won't get any better for the mullah's regime but they will get worse.  If Assad is gone by then, insider panic will be all the greater.

The nice thing is that much of what is undermining this regime is likely to happen without much conscious effort by the opposition.  There is nothing much the regime can do to stop much of it and no one they can target to prevent it.



by BacheShirazi on

Hey FG. I was wondering what your opinion was on the death of the Iranian nuclear scientist? Who do you think did it?

Ari Siletz

Iran does need better protest songs

by Ari Siletz on

We're doing very well with protest poetry which, in a different medium, match any protest song that came out of the 60s in the U.S.

But sticking to music, Hamed Nikpay's song "The Owner of This Land," is a good candidate to replace  "Yar e Dabestani" whenever we are ready to stop grieving and start fighting.


Reply to FG

by bahmani on

I like your tone, and I think Iran is ready for a Selma to Birmingham march of it's own, but a couple things you said made me think;

"when the demonstrations start..." Again, I love the idea, but don't think the gov. will EVER make that mistake again. No chance of another demonstration. They now know the risks that entails.

The other thing you said was "elections" I don't think we should call them that anymore. They aren't elections. They are a cruel lottery to see who will win the favor of Khamenei, and the right to call him "Master".

Baez would be arrested for trying to criticize Iran, and insulting the Supreme Pizza which is illegal and she would be convicted of that, probably confess too, and then set free for $1M in "bail" from an Arab invest... I mean benefactor.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //


Nice Kitchen!

by Faramarz on

I love Joan Baez, but...

This is the first song ever recorded in a kitchen in support of the Iranian people!

Who says women cannot multi-task?

There is probably something delicious cooking in the oven and the dish washer is also in the Dry cycle!


Bahmani Re: "We can't sing it in the streets."

by FG on

When the demonstrations start, it won't matter if public singing is forbidden. 

I also hope that many Iranians will agree with you about learning the lyrics.

Did you like the Bull Conner/Khamenei analogy?  Look up the former Birmingham Police Chief online.  I'm sure you will find photos of his dogs attacking demonstrators.

What would happen to Baez if she traveled to Iran--say ten days before the election?  Wouldn't that put the regime on the spot?  How much ransom would it demand for her release?

Maryam Hojjat

FG, thanks for posting this

by Maryam Hojjat on

Great inspiration Song with this Great singer.


Everyone should learn these lyrics.

by bahmani on

Unfortunately public expression of music is forbidden.

So we can't even sing this song in the streets.

Back to YouTube I guess.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //