One of the many things I recall from my evening with Josephine Baker was the varied programme she presented. It wasn’t just the numbers from the glory days of her early career. We did get “J’ai Deux Amours” and “La Vie en Rose” but they were outnumberd by songs that were of a more recent vintage.
I tried to find a decent version of Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times” but could only find this very blurry performance from French TV in 1972. She does play fast and loose with rhythm and melody and my memory may be at fault but I seem to remember her singing it more as a ballad.
In an interview with Elwood Glover – as I recall his Luncheon Date was the only interview she would give – Josephine Baker admitted that she was having some problem with memorizing lyrics and often had to resort to cue cards. When she sang Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a Changin'” I caught sight from our table of Jean-Claude Baker, her adopted son, standing in the wings with the lyrics copied in very large letters on cardboard.
There is only one known recorded version of her singing Dylan’s anthem to what he saw as the “change of the moment”. It is from her legendary Carnegie Hall concert on June 5, 1973. Unfortunately Baker was not in the best of voice that night; again she is a bit shaky on the lyrics and the orchestration is a bit OTT, but the emotion and immediacy cannot be denied. And believe me in person it had twice the impact.