Monday, 29 June 2015

Diamonds and rust. . .

This blog post is dedicated to people who sometimes live in the world of memories :-)

I first came across Joan Baez while I was teaching vocals at a contemporary music studio during my college years just before the millennium.  I was familiar with Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell but hadn't really listened to any of her work.  Diamonds and rust was one of the tracks that one of my students chose to learn.  At the time she was a blind 14 year old who had a penchant for folk music, something that baffled her parents who were music fans of 70s rock and didn't know where she developed this eccentric taste for one so young.  Al I can say is that I thank her for introducing me to Joan Baez as I uncovered some wonderful gems from a talented songwriter and political activist.  It is common knowledge that this song is written about her relationship with Bob Dylan.

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

It can be an awkward conversation talking with ex-partners/lover-whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
You have history and memories about little scenes that may sit squarely in your memory because you felt a particular emotion, stronger than usual, more often than not - and when you have these conversations now - those memories may either have burned just as brightly back then or have dimmed somewhat in the cold harsh light of hindsight and retrospect.  I totally understand the sentiments that sit behind when memories can be compared to diamonds and rust - sparkling bright in your mind's eye, but in the current time wear and tear, as well as exposure to the elements have begun to show on those memories.

Well you burst onto 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

There is something comforting to know that even the most outwardly confident people., with dominant personalities are able to find solace or comfort in their extreme opposite.  Have you taken a chance and given yourself to someone else so freely?  It's quite a vulnerable state to be in, and if you do open yourself up in such a way, how would you know that it would be reciprocated?  It definitely makes me think about that mantra of 'feel the fear and do it anyway', so rather than swim in a sea of regret, why now just take the those white water rapids on a fast track to, . . whatever you want to call it.

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

This verse introduces us to a new musical idea and to me it seems to be the most poignant part of the song (at least the diamond section) as she describes a memory that seems complete and timeless.  I could wax lyrical as much as possible about it, but the fact that even the way she sings "there" at the end of this verse. it's like she tries to hold on as long as possible before tapering off, signalling the end of memory, the end of that diamond memory anyway, a snapshot in time.

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
Because I need some of that vagueness now

I hope that you're able to have conversations with people that you once loved in your past in a way that you can laugh about those diamond moments, letting them burn brightly just a little bit longer before the rust starts to form on those memories - and then you remember why things ended.

It's all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you're offering diamonds and rust
I've already paid. . .