Joan Baez was singer Joan Baez's 1960 self-titled debut album, featuring 13 traditional folk songs. Though Baez was reportedly offered a contract with Columbia at the time, she chose to go instead with the independent Vanguard label, hoping for increased artistic license. Most of the songs featured only Baez' vocals and guitar, with a second guitar (played by Fred Hellerman, of The Weavers), added to some songs. Despite the lack of strings and horns, backup singers and hit singles, the album went gold, although it did not make the Billboard 200 chart until 1962, following the success of her second album, Joan Baez, Vol. 2. Joan Baez peaked at number 15 and spent 140 weeks on the chart.
In 1983 Baez described the making of the album to Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder:
"...It took four days. We recorded it in the ballroom of some hotel in New York, way up by the river. We could use the room every day except Tuesday, because they played Bingo there on Tuesdays. It was just me on this filthy rug. There were two microphones, one for the voice and one for the guitar. I just did my set. It was probably all I knew how to do at that point. I did 'Mary Hamilton' once and that was it...That's the...