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Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez

"As I remember your eyes were bluer than robin's eggs....."

How's that for a poetic image?

The problem with Joan Baez is once you have heard her a few times, then you know what she does - she 's unlikely to surprise you, her purity and honesty is always there, and she's never going to do anything very different like her later contemporaries Carole King or Joni Mitchell for instance. She reminds me of a folk singer I knew in my university youth, one Morag, who had an operatic voice and who could - and frequently did - clear bars with her version of "It Ain't me Babe". Although not quite operatic, Joan's delivery, sincere though it is, means that her music often sounds the same, the intensity always delivered at a familiar pitched balance between beautiful song and emotion. But her strength is that her subject sometimes rises above this, and when it does it is as if the Madonna has appeared to sing to us and then she is sublime.

Her relationship with with Bob Dylan in the early sixties lasted four years. Nine years later, in 1974, prompted by a late night call from Bob from a payphone, she wrote "Diamonds and Rust". In the song she recalls moments from their life together, full of love for him, but with a hard-eyed objectivity that makes her tenderness all the more moving. She remembers that Dylan said her poetry was lousy, absolutely true compared to his, but here her poetry nails him as no-one else has ever done, before or since. Read as many books as you want on Dylan, "the original vagabond", but you won't get any closer to him than this.

"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 loved you dearly and if you're offering me diamonds and rust I've already paid."

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