"Diamonds and Rust" as written by and Baez....
Well I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

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
Could keep you unharmed

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling all 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

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


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by sheiladare, ClaireMatthews, laburke, Ghado

"Diamonds and Rust" as written by Joan Baez

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Diamonds and Rust song meanings
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26 Comments

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  • +6
    General Comment"You gonna sing that song about robin's eggs and diamonds?" Bob had asked me on the first day of rehearsals.

    "Which one?"

    "You know, that one about blue eyes and diamonds..."

    "Oh", I said, "you must mean 'Diamonds And Rust', the song I wrote for my husband, David. I wrote it while he was in prison."

    "For your husband?" Bob said.

    "Yeah. Who did you think it was about?" I stonewalled.

    "Oh, hey, what the fuck do I know?"

    "Never mind. Yeah, I'll sing it, if you like."

    - Joan Baez, AND A VOICE TO SING WITH, 1987
    a sin coming onon March 12, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think Diamonds and Rust reveals 'tears and then dried.' What I think it means is, as in all wonderful, set apart relationships, there is 'diamonds'..the closeness..the good times. And 'rust'..the end.
    Joan sings 'I've already paid'..her heart has already broken once and one more telephone call will not change that.
    There is another song that Joan sings for Bob.. titled:
    'Winds Of The Old Days'
    What really is the core issue is: Did Bob really love Joan or was she just a 'deviation' for him when he broke up with Suze. Bob and Joan were together romantically for such a short time - after the breakup with Suze - and just before his relationship with his future wife, Sarah.
    ShannyHon May 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBaez has said before what "Diamonds and Rust" are: Memories. "Time turns ugly charcoal into diamonds and shiny metal into rust."
    dawnofvict0ryon January 03, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNo question this is about Bob Dylan. She has said so and so has he.

    "...we both know what memories can bring
    They bring diamonds and rust"

    Memories can bring feelings that are beautiful and bright, or corrosive and destructive...bittersweet.

    I think the line about "I've already paid" means that she has nothing left to give him; the bitter outweighs the sweet and she doesn't want to dredge up their memories.
    mamselon October 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"A booth in the Midwest" seems like a Bob answer to "Where are you calling from?"
    onethingscertainon June 19, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPeople people, it's just not that complicated! The title simply is stating from Joan's point of view the inequity of the relationship. Joan clearly is saying that she was there for him emotionally during a period in his life when he was "temporarily lost at sea" meaning a vulnerable scary place, maybe even going through an identity crisis, which isn't unusual with such successful artists and with as much fame as Dylan. It's obvious she cared for him during this time as a mother would for a wounded child. But it wasn't an adult to adult relationship emotionally. He just wasn't capable of returning the favor and she got nada from him for emotional support when it came to her life and hard times. She brought diamonds to the relationship and all she got from him was rust. It's supurb symbolism. And given that he thought her poetry was lousy I think she more than makes up for it with these lyrics. I put these lyrics in my top ten because of the raw sadness and pain that they are able to drudge up but also because it's that raw truth that comes through and her strength to say no to being in that position again. I've already paid.
    BostonSamuelon September 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about Joan's relationship with Bob Dylan.
    zooeyon May 24, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"hearing a voice I'd known a couple of light years ago
    Heading straight for a fall" Considering the song was written in 1975, it is my reading of it, that Bob rang her up one day looking for sympathy when he realised his marriage to Sara Lownds was on the rocks. According to a Wikipedia entry "Their marriage first became strained around April 1974 when he began taking art classes from Norman Raeben, a 73-year-old Russian immigrant... Raeban's teaching methods radically changed the musician's way of thinking, and he would later tell an interviewer, "I went home after that first day and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. That's when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about, and I couldn't possibly explain it." His marriage ended in 1977, which is the fall that is referred to. Would it be too much of a stretch that Baez was the charcoal and Lownds was the shiny metal (Dylan refers to Sara's silver cross in "Sad Eyed lady of the lowlands"). Time has brought decay (rust) in his relationship with Sara and Baez is pointing out he could have had a diamond instead, Baez. There is a strong feeling of "I told you so" to the song.
    melco99on September 10, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is. The diamonds are tears and the rust comes when they fall and dry.
    davealexon November 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI adore this song. "You who are so good with words and at keeping things vague, and i need some of that vagueness now...". This song doesn't have lines, it just has these concepts flow on to take you to different parts of her memories/ emotions. Brilliant. Her talent is a real blessing
    vileninon March 11, 2005   Link

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