Thursday, July 1, 2010

Well I'll be damned, here comes your ghost again

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
—Joan Baez "Diamonds and Rust"


  1. Oops, hit post before re-reading.... sorry.

    I meant to say, she really nailed mister Dylan, with his own sort of scathing put-down. He was, probably still is, something of a genius, a poet and troubadour, but he's also got a famously nasty streak, using his songs to cut and wound.
    We can never know what really transpired between the protagonists, but to me, at least, the song speaks of her past hurt, sense of betrayal.

    "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
    Would keep you unharmed."

    I think she's wonderful, but..... not a patch on him. I know many hate Dylan's voice, they hear it as a monotonous drone, but, oh, listen to him, listen to how he speaks, how he makes words dance and leap.
    see the pictures.

    And then... I listen again to Diamonds and Rust, and think.... "Yes, Ms Baez, you've matched him here".

  2. Hi, Jeff. I had to read it a couple times before I understood what she was trying to say. I think she meant that was the high point and it went downhill from there and they might as well have just died while they were ahead. That's my take. Hard to tell with women.

    Soubriquet, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. That's what Freud said once. It doesn't always have to mean something deep. I just liked the words. Well, in this case, of course I agree with you that she was being bitter that Bobby meant more to her than she did to him. Dylan wrote some deep things, and about a variety of things. He was folk and he was protest. At least that's what they used to call it. He is still hardly rock and roll to me. But Baez wrote a bit about how he dumped her and the rest of her songs were covers. At least I can't think of any great songs that came from her own head. Back then you needed more than one act to get a gig, and so she got jobs. You are probably a bit too young to remember when "folk" became "protest" and all the coffee shops and all the bad poetry, of hairy people walking the streets passing out hand cranked protest ads for this or that hangout in the Village (or in Canada - I can remember Stratford-on-avon in Ontario being plastered with bills during the summer Shakespeare thing up there) before the British Invasion killed all that. But Dylan survived, because he had something to say. As you point out, he never did learn to sing. Sometimes the words are more important. Lots of famous singers couldn't sing. :)

    I'm sitting here trying to recall a Dylan song that didn't have some underlying political or social agenda of some sort, and all I can come up with is Lay Lady Lay. It wasn't about Joan.

  3. Well, of course you are old enough to remember it. I'm the one who is too young. :) I am a historian...



Related Posts with Thumbnails