Saturday, February 21, 2009

Joan Baez: Diamonds and Rust

Joan Baez' own sublimely beautiful poetry, about being 21 and 22 and 23 years old, and intensely in love with Bob Dylan, i.e. "the most talented crazy person I ever worked with". Written ten years after her relationhip with Dylan had ended, Baez is here, in 1975:  age 34, and divorced with a 5 year old son.

Well, I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the Midwest
Ten years ago I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

Well, you burst on the scene, already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes, the girl on the half-shell
Could keep you unharmed

Now I see you standing with brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you're smiling out the window of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there

Now you're telling me you're not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
'Cause I need some of that vagueness now
It's all come back too clearly
Yes, I once loved you dearly
And if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid

Baez and Dylan, each 22 years old, at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, singing "With God on Our Side". They became well known for this song, which amazes me b/c: could hound dogs hear this song, surely hound dogs would howl.

25 seconds of a young Baez doing a parody of Dylan.  It might help to know "Madam the Queen" = Baez.  Baez displays a self possessed quality which was different from typical young Americans during that early 1960s period.  I suspect this might have been part of her attraction - might have added an exotic quality to her allure.   I suspect her self-possession resulted from an intelligent atmosphere surrounding her family, and from a father raised in Mexico and a mother raised in Scotland, and from  her family's repeated moves during her childhood - prompting exposure to cultures outside the United States.

Baez and Dylan, in 1976, outdoors in Fort Collins, singing the 1960s anthem "Blowin in the Wind" in a quirky Dylan rhythm.  

Related End Zone:  Earl Scruggs and Joan Baez:  "Love is Just a Four Letter Word"


Bob Dylan "Hallelujah",  just b/c I like the song, and I like Dylan's version, which is heavy on electric guitar.  He grabs the song; he makes it his own.  Only Bob Dylan would ever sing it like this. 

This is one of only two performances of the original version of Leonard Cohen's song (that I know of - Cohen sings the other).  Virtually every other cover is of the Jeff Buckley version of the song. 

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