Song of the Day, January 9: Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez

Today’s song is Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez. A powerful singer with a career reaching back more than 40 years, Baez is best known for her participation in and leadership of the protest and social justice movements within the American folk music community. A strong songwriter in her own right, she is also famous as an interpreter of other writers; she has recorded in English and Spanish (being fluent in both) as well as six other languages.

Baez is also famous as an early interpreter of songs by Bob Dylan. They met in 1961 just after he moved to New York City. They performed together and worked in the protest movement. By 1963 their frequent musical collaboration had turned into a romance which lasted two tumultuous years. She reflects on that relationship a decade later in Diamonds and Rust, the title track from her strongest album. Opening with the wonderful line

Well I’ll be damned
Here comes your ghost again

The song traces their affection and conflict with unflinching honesty. It’s a lyrical tour de force, packed with powerful images and wry, wistful observations.

And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid.

Today is Joan Baez’ 71st birthday; enjoy this amazing song and wish her many happy returns.

About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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