What does Diamonds and Rust mean?

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Joan Baez: Diamonds and Rust Meaning


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Song Released: 1975

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Diamonds and Rust Lyrics

I'll be damned, here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you decided to call

And here I sit, hand on the telephone
Hearing the voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Headed straight for...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 9th 2012 report

    This song (which, believe it or not, was covered by Judas Priest!) is about Joan Baez's strained relationship with her former love, Bob Dylan.

    They had some wonderful moments that Joan still treasures... but the relationship ended because (in Joan's view), Bob could never make up his mind what he wanted from his relationship with her. He was always "keeping things vague," acting one moment as if they were going to get married, then acting as if they were just pals.

    They split up, and Joan has spent years trying to move on and put him out of her mind... but from time to time, he calls her up out of the blue, and brings all her complicated emotions rushing out again.

    Part of her thinks it's wonderful to hear from him, but another part is angry and resentful, wondering "What the hell do you want? To reminisce about the good old days? Feeling nostalgic? I mean, you obviously didn't want me when you had me... why do you act as if you want me NOW?"

    Dylan's calls evoke both delightful memories (diamonds) AND awful ones (rust).


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    May 14th 2012 report

    It's my favorite song by Joan baez and it's certainly was written for Bob Dylan, it speaks of a deep routed pain.

  3. anonymous
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    Jun 5th report

    Maybe Bob Dylan cared deeply for Joan Baez, but his religious background at the time prevented anything other than friendship. It possibly could be that he didn’t want her to suffer heartbreak of another kind.
    Calling her possibly makes one think there is still something to that special relationship.
    Diamonds and Rust coming from the pristine voice of Joan Baez is rather beautiful.

  4. anonymous
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    Aug 6th 2021 report

    Joan definitely said "I'll take the diamonds" at the end of her show in the late 90s.
    I agree with several of the previous comments about this song. On a later album, Gulf Winds, she wrote another song about their relationship and she said that "she was good for one more try", so not quite as dismissive as this song.

  5. anonymous
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    Dec 14th 2020 report

    What else could I say that it hasn't been already said over the years? Only two people in love know what was going on between them long time ago. This lyrics are only her side of the story. Still they are beautiful, sincere and not lousy at all. It is poetry and truly a beautiful song.

  6. anonymous
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    Nov 13th 2020 report

    I always thought diamonds were tears that fell and the rust was from the blood from those tears. Similar to the dues one has to pay when remembering those sparkling memories that didn't pan out, but instead turned to a rusted and sad memory....

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 18th 2020 report

    Like millions before us and them, love lost is painful and the calls bring back the pain of a love lost. Diamonds are those wonderful moments shared when we had a million tomorrows and the passage of time has turn those memories to rust.

  8. anonymous
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    Aug 27th 2018 report

    After 10 years of silence Dylan calls Baez to read her the lyrics to Lily, Rosemary... She had been his port in a storm years ago but he treated her badly and she is unnerved by the call, understanding he never loved her the way she loved him. But she found diamonds spring from cold ugly coal and saw shiny glitter deteriorate into rust. Legend has it that she sometimes sang an alternate ending. Instead of I've already paid she says I'll take the diamonds. I believe the line We both could have died then and there refers to a particularly romantic night they shared in that "crummy hotel over Washington Square."

  9. anonymous
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    Dec 10th 2016 report

    I believe "we both could have died then and there"means they both could have failed as musicians and remained starving in Grenwich .Village

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  10. anonymous
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    Jun 18th 2016 report

    Diamonds and rust is evocative of time and how time can bring back memories either beautiful or sad meaning the time when a rock becomes a diamond or weathers something to rust.

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