Sing Sing Thanksgiving
Produced and directed by David Hoffman and Harry Willard
Varied Directions, 1973
81 minutes

The DVD was retitled
B.B. King and Joan Baez in concert at Sing Sing Prison, 1972.


This is a documentary of a benefit concert for the prisoners of Ossining Correctional Facility (a.k.a. Sing Sing) that took place on Thanksgiving of 1972 (Nov. 22), and was broadcast on TV on Thanksgiving of the following year. The concert featured B.B. King, Joan Baez, Mimi Fariña [unbilled] and The Voices of East Harlem. Comedian Jimmy Walker served as the MC. Joan and Mimi sing a beautiful duet of the Spanish song "Viva mi patria Bolivia," and Joan sings solo on "I Shall Be Released" and "Prison Trilogy." There is also a song by Joan that is played over the end credits and, to the best of my knowledge, is not available anywhere else. All theses performances are wonderful, but it's probably fair to advise prospective buyers that only about half the film is music, and the rest is made up of interviews with prisoners and prison employees. But like any project that Joan was involved in, it is an eye-opening experience. The historical importance of the event, from a Fariña perspective, is that Mimi's visit to Sing Sing was an early inspiration for the creation of Bread & Roses in 1974.


Since the DVD doesn't have a menu, I've indicated the times of the performances:

   17:00 - Voices of East Harlem - Fly, Bird, Fly
   21:55 - Voices of East Harlem - To Be Young, Gifted and Black
   25:10 - Jimmy Walker - [comedy act]
   27:45 - Joan Baez - [introduction]
   28:15 - Joan Baez - I Shall Be Released
   30:40 - Joan Baez - [speech]
   31:10 - Joan Baez & Mimi Fariña - Viva mi patria Boliva
   33:00 - Pinto the Cat
   35:00 - Inmates - [prison play]
   40:10 - Joan Baez - Prison Trilogy
   45:25 - Inmate - Game in the Apple [rap poem]
   49:40 - B.B. King - [introduction]
   51:20 - B.B. King - How Blue Can You Get?
   56:00 - B.B. King - Someone Really Loves You
   59:10 - B.B. King - I Think You're Cheatin' On Me, Baby
1:03:05 - B.B. King - [playout]
1:09:25 - Voices of East Harlem - [introduction]
1:10:05 - Voices of East Harlem - I'll Be Your Heaven
1:18:50 - Joan Baez - Sing Sing [played over closing credits]

LYRICS TO "Viva mi patria Bolivia":

Here are the lyrics to "Viva mi patria Bolivia" (written by Apolinar Camacho [b.1917] in the thirties) alongside an English translation. (Mimi and Joan's performance varies slightly from the original version, and at a couple of points they seem to be singing differently from each other: Joan sings "como la quiero yo" while Mimi sings "también mi corazón.")

Viva mi patria Bolivia
una gran nación
por ella doy mi vida
también mi corazón.

Esta canción que yo canto
la brindo con amor
a mi patria Bolivia
que quiero con pasión.

La llevo en mi corazón
y le doy mi inspiración.
Quiera mi patria Bolivia
como la quiero yo.

Long live my homeland Boliva
a great nation;
for her I give my life
as well as my heart.

This song I sing
I dedicate with love
to my homeland Bolivia
which I passionately love.

I bear her in my heart
and give her my inspiration.
May you love my homeland Boliva
as I love her.


Note for trivia buffs:
If you look closely during the prison play peformed by the inmates, you'll see that the main actor's t-shirt is autographed by Joan and Mimi on the front and B.B. King on the back. That's Mimi's flower, which she often drew when she autographed books and albums.

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