The return of Joan Baez
For over one week, singer and former peace activist Joan Baez stayed once again at the legendary Hotel Metropole Hanoi. This time in peaceful days she remembered her days at the hotel during the dreadful ‘Christmas bombing‘ of 1972.
Joan Baez spent memorable moments at the bomb shelter of the hotel and visited the Path of History (read the full story there). She also painted a portrait at her suite at the Hotel Metropole. Later, she donated that painting to the hotel.
From the book Hotel Metropole Hanoi:
During the American War (outside of Vietnam known as Vietnam War) US Folk singer Joan Baez had made the hotel her shelter for almost two weeks. Here she experienced the war during the worst air-raids of mankind. In December 1972, after Nixon had ordered Linebacker Two, a massive bombing campaign north of the 20th parallel, in particular the bombing of the corridor between Haiphong and Hanoi, Baez spent 13 days here. She returned home with 15 hours of tapes. According to Charles J. Fuss in Joan Baez: A Bio-Bibliography, Baez herself referred to the resulting project as a record company’s nightmare.
An eye witness reports: ‘During the B-52 attacks we had to stay in the bunker the whole day. There were benches to sit on and when it got too crowded they put mats on the floor. And, yes, we had light. Journalists could work on their articles.’
Joan Baez remembers: ‘Where Are You Now, My Son?’, is a ballad about the eleven days of bombing I experienced in Hanoi over Christmas of 1972. Interspersed with and superimposed upon it are sounds recorded on my portable tape machine – children laughing, sirens blaring, bomb falling, women singing – some moments shared inside our hotel bomb shelter with Indians, Poles, Cubans, French, Vietnamese – a service that Mike Allen and I gave Christmas Eve in our hotel lobby which was interrupted by a bomb blast and then a raid… There were over sixty bombing raids in eleven days, in what turned out to be the heaviest bombing in the history of the world.
Much of the loud bomb and jet sounds, anti-aircraft, etc was taped by him from the balcony of the third floor of our hotel – the living quarters of Jean Thoroval of Agence France Press, his wife Marie Claud, and their friends. Bless them all for the courage they gave me.’