Diamonds & Rust

Album: Diamonds & Rust (1975)
Charted: 35
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  • In this song, Joan Baez is singing to her former lover Bob Dylan, fondly reminiscing about their 1960s affair. Released as a single, this track became only her second top 40 hit in the States, and her biggest self-composed hit (her other hit came in 1971 with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down").
  • Baez revealed to The Huffington Post that she wrote this song after Bob Dylan called her from a phone booth and sang her the lyrics to his song "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." Baez said that this gave her inspiration to write "Diamonds & Rust," and that she lied to Dylan, telling him it was about David Harris, to whom she was married from 1968-1973. Bob Dylan rarely reveals much about his songs, but his track "Queen Jane Approximately" is most likely his take on his relationship with Baez.
  • The British metal band Judas Priest covered this song in 1977. They pick up the tempo and electrify the song, but their version is sincere.

    They recorded it at the urging of their record company, which sent a copy of the Joan Baez original to the studio when they were recording their second album, Sad Wings Of Destiny, in 1976. At first, they dismissed it, but changed their tune when they gave it a good listen. "We sat down, listened to it closely, and realized it was a brilliant, sensitive song," lead singer Rob Halford wrote in his memoir, Confess. "'OK,' we decided. 'Let's show them what we can do with this.'"

    The song didn't make the album, but they held onto it and included it on their next one, Sin After Sin. It became one of their most popular songs, included on their compilations The Best of Judas Priest and Hero Hero, and on the live album Unleashed in the East. It remains a staple of their concert performances.

    In the 2000s, Priest performed a mostly acoustic version of the song more similar to the original than the "rocked up" recorded version.

    On Bob Dylan's album John Wesley Harding, there's a song called "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest," which may have supplied the band name. Judas Priest took their name from a disbanded group that had been using it, so it's provenance isn't clear. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - Frederick, MD
  • In addition to singing on this, Baez played the Moog and Arp Synthesizers.
  • The end of Side 1 of the album contains a parody of Bob Dylan's voice on his own "A Simple Twist Of Fate."
  • "That crummy hotel over Washington Square" refers to the Hotel Earle, where Baez and Dylan lived for a while. It's located at 103 Waverly Place on the corner of MacDougal Street in New York City. Once a place of luxury, the Hotel Earle deteriorated in the '60s and became an apartment hotel popular with starving artists. Notable inhabitants included Ernest Hemingway, Barbra Streisand and Bill Cosby. It was purchased in the '70s and became the Washington Square Hotel in 1986.
  • Asked by Mojo July 2014 what Bob Dylan thought of the song, Baez replied: "When I saw Bob on the Rolling Thunder Tour he said, (Impersonates Dylan) 'Are you going to do that song you wrote about me?' I said, 'Oh the one about the blue eyes, the one about my husband?' (Facially impersonates Dylan looking glum). 'Bob, I'm bullsh---ing you!'"

    "He has actually said nice things about Diamonds And Rust," she added.
  • Blackmore's Night covered this song for their 2003 album Ghost of a Rose. Candice Night describes Joan Baez as her "favorite American folk singer."
  • What does Joan Baez think of the Judas Priest cover? The band found out at Live Aid in 1985, when they both performed on the Philadelphia stage. She sought out the band to tell them that her son loves their version and thinks it's very cool that his mom's song was covered by a metal band.

Comments: 36

  • AnonymousWhat does the girl on the half shell refer to
  • Agnello Noel from MumbaiCufflinks = Handcuffs?
  • Mike from Washington StateYears after Judas Priest covering this song I covered it myself on the bass Guitar :)
  • None Of Your Business from None Of Your BusinessI've read the comments... There are worse things than Judas Priest covering this song. For instance, the only reason I know of this Joan Baez song is because of a thrash metal band named Slayer. An uncredited, and unreferenced "Dissident Aggressor" is performed on Slayer's "South of Heaven" album. I traced that to Judas Priest's "Sin After Sin". Then becoming interested in Priest, I bought "Sin After Sin" only to have the haunting "Diamonds and Rust" become to me the most memorable song of the album. Never having investigated its origins, via sheer coincidence I only became aware 20 years later that it too was a cover when I typed the song name in a web search. I have found the original rendition haunting as well. I have no favorite here, and appreciate when any artist pays homage to what they consider great.
  • Kramo from Toronto, CanadaI saw her play at a church in Toronto around 1964. She took some questions. Someone asked...what young people could do to help the struggle. Whatever that was. Baez told her to drop out of school for starters. What a commie idiot.
  • Elias from Buffalo, NyFrom what i understand, the title has to do with time and its relationship with beauty, as in time can take a black, sooty piece of coal and turn it into a beautiful shiny diamond, but at the same time, it can take a shiny and beautiful piece of steel and turn it into rust, thus destroying it. so in the end, the former lover comes back, but the other person feels like they are just being offered time to either have a beautiful life together, or this is as good as it gets and it will just end in another heartbreak...they've already been down that road, they've already paid.
  • D. R. from Okc, OkRecently got Judy Collins latest CD (She performed at the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, OK July 2012), and she does a duet with Joan of this song. Wow it's good.
  • Bob from Bismarck, NdI heard Joan Baez perform this live outdoors at Bayfield, Wisconsin in 2009. When she got tot he part where it says 'ten years ago, I bought you some cufflinks', she sang 'FORTY years ago, I bought you some cufflinks'. The song is that old and I think the cufflinks were a gift to Bob Dylan.
  • Tom from Lebanon, PaHaving heard the fast and slow versions by Judas Priest, my son and I listened to the original tonight. I must say, I am very impressed by all three versions. Joan's seems more bittersweet and soulful, while Judas Priest's versions seems more bitter. The slower version by Priest has so much more power in it than the fast version. Joan seems almost tempted to relive the past in hers, while in the Priest versions they (Tim Owens does a VERY good version live on '98 Meltdown) seem to be rejecting the overtures of their former lover. All in all, very good song with very deep emotion no matter who is singing it.
  • Lalith from Colombo, Sri Lanka (ceylon)This is one of my all time favourite songs. Brings back memories and yearnings for lost love.
    The Bobby Kennedy theory doesn't work for me because whole chunks of the song do not fit. The original vagabond, the unwashed phenomenon? Kennedy?
  • Rob from Walsall, United KingdomJudas Priest did this song a disservice?!

    I think you need to re-evaluate your position. Judas Priest is what gave me a love for this song. I'd never even heard of Joan Baez, and certainly didn't think much of her rendition of this song when I did. I guess it's "too each his own".

    In the end, the music stands for what it is. I prefer Halford's version. Without him, I'd have never experienced it. Speaks volumes Priest feels something for it. Kudos Joan, may your work live forever regardless.

  • Suzy from Boca Raton, FlThis song is definately one of my favorites of all time. The lyrics are sad and bring back memories from my past. Throughout the song, I imagine Baez and Dylans broken love affair.
    "Speaking strictly for me we both could have died then and there". That is very heavy!!!!
  • Vic from Las Vegas, NvThe people hyping the Judas Priest version.. I'm sorry to say but that version sucks.
    They really did this song a disservice.
  • Alfonso from Santiago, ChileI know this song only for Judas Priest, and to all the non believers that have not heard the Judas versions, let me tell you that they are nothing less than GREAT. Do yourself a favor and listen to them.
  • Maggie from Scranton, PaWell, I heard a rumor a long time ago, from someone in Baez's circle, that this song was about a very secret, intense, short lived affair with Bobby Kennedy. Listen to it with him in mind. It could really fit. He was from New York, was a phenomenon, was good at words but as a politician, also good at keeping things vague. He had robin egg blue eyes,"snow" in his hair as he grsyed slightly, prematurely.
  • Nick from Bush, LaHey Jean, in Paris.... Go listen to Judas Priests version. Rob Halford CAN sing.
  • Jean from Paris, FranceARGHHHH !!!!! Judas Priest has sung this song. Do they really SING ? She's the madonna, and they are the Heavy Pigs
  • Bob from San Diego, CaJoan Baez: "What would've happended if we'd gotten married?"
    Bob Dylan: "I married the woman I love" MOJO September 2006
  • Mike from Modest, CaThis is one of my favorite songs of all time. Her voice is so pure, clear and ringing that I am in awe. This is a beautiful song; powerful lyrics, effective and mournful minor-based chord changes, a strong, intense bridge, a great arrangement with the moog in background, and so very touching and haunting that it brings tears to my eyes. I've never heard the Judas Priest version, nor have the desire to. I imagine it would ruin the basis of the very personal and bittersweet effect of the song.
  • Kevin from Reading , PaThis song is so personal, I don't see how a Judas Priest version could make any sense. It's ludicrous that they even did it.
  • Susan from Tampa, FlThis song was in the movie " Eulogy" and the scene stars Hank Azaria, great film, even better song.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdLike this song a lot, but I like two others of hers better, that are on similar themes: Song for David (about then-husband and fellow jailed protester, David Harris), and Sweet Sir Galahad, about the marriage of her sister, Mimi, to Richard Farina (who wrote the folk-standard, Pack Up Your Sorrows). Despise her politics, but she sure could write some great songs, and what a voice!! In the early 60's, when she hit the scene, that voice was so stunning, many thought it was just too good for folk music. I believe she was classically trained in voice (though I am unable to find any confirmation of this; it may be apocryphal), and probably could have been an opera superstar. But what a loss for folk that would have been! BTW, her dad was fairly prominent physicist, Albert Baez.
  • Pufan Alexandru from Dr. Tr. SeverinJoan Baez's version is better than Priest's version from Sin After Sin but not better that the acoustic version from Rising in the East
  • Lester from New York City, NyJudas Priest's cover is intense
  • Rik from Houghton Le Spring, EnglandI saw Baez a couple of weeks ago and she changed the last line to 'I'll take the Grammy'
  • Benny from Seal Beach, CaNever was a huge Joan Baez, but I've always loved "Diamonds and Rust." The song stands on it own, but I think Joan really captured my relationship with a girl named Cindi.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoJoan's relationship with Bobby was a dozen years history by the time of this song.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaA bit sappy for sure but a classic for old farts like me!
  • Julie from New York, NyRebekah from Seattle. I am not a dyed-in-the-wool Joan Baez enthusiast but the woman has a beautiful voice and certainly can turn a song. For you to say that her version of "Diamonds and Rust" is terrible, just struck a bad chord with me--no pun intended! Her version was meant to be mournful as it speaks to a painful part of her past. Perhaps you should visit Joan's site to read the lyrics as she wrote them to gain some perspective. And isn't it ironic that Judas Priest is named after a song by her former lover Bob Dylan?(to whom the song alludes!)
  • Rebekah from Seattle, WaJoan Baez may have written this song, but it was a terrible version. Judas Priest gave the song new meaning and passion. No slight against Joan, but it had no heat.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScUm Steve. The song you're referring wasn't written by her anyway. It was written by the Band, and who knows what their motives were.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoBen, do you want to see Joan Baez live? Just send her a note that you are going to tear down a building and she'll be there in a heartbeat to protest it. Isn't it ironic that Joan was such a protester for Civil Rights and her biggest hit song glorifies the Confederacy (The Night They Drove 'Ole Dixie Down).
  • Ben from Eugene, OrI love Joan Baez. Haven't listened too much to her in years, but she is great.
  • Tim from Charlotte, NcWhile Baez sounds quite bitter as she sings "Diamonds and Rust", and then sounds mocking as she sings "Simple Twist of Fate" later on the album, she finally comes to terms with Dylan in the song "Winds of the Old Days".

    All in all, this is a great album with the themes of bitterness, grief, forgiveness and understanding.
  • Anthea from Boston, MaWhen Baez does this live, she sometimes plays around with the lyrics at the end. For example, when she sang with Mary Chapin Carpenter, they sang "and if you're offering me diamonds and rust, I'll take the diamonds," instead of "I've already paid," which makes the song sound somewhat more upbeat.
  • Marion from Frankfurt, GermanyThere exists a cover version by Blackmore's Night.
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