Top positive review
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Joan Baez writes a really great song about her and Dylan
on 16 November 2002
I have been mulling over the idea that "Diamonds & Rust" is the best folk album of the Seventies, and it has made me realize that I am always going to think of Bob Dylan as being a folksinger even when his guitar is electric. So I would still give the nod to "Blood on the Tracks," especially since that is where Joan Baez's cover of "Simple Twist Of Fate" comes from. But I have no problem with the idea that this is the best Joan Baez album and no doubt whatsoever that "Diamonds & Rust" is her greatest accomplishment as a songwriter...
Of course the song is about Dylan "the unwashed phenomenon"; what else would make more perfect sense? More importantly, the elegance of the dichotomy offered by those two words is simple genius, which inspires instant recognition on the part of the listener. My biggest compliment that would be "Diamonds & Rust" is the best Dylan songs not written by Dylan. Baez has never sounded any better than she does on this album. In addition to the title song my other favorites are "Hello In There" and "Jesse." The argument can certainly be made by armchair psychologists that the title song was an important catharsis for Baez, which could explain the dramatic improvement in both her songwriting and singing. The latter is probably less obvious simply because Baez and Judy Collins were the standards by which all female folk singers were judged in the Sixties and Seventies. But I think it is obvious that her rich soprano voice with its distinctive vibrato never sounded better. Still, that title song is just so impressive. I would have to say it is one of the ten best songs of the Seventies.
Yes, "Tangled Up in Blue" would also be on that list on diamonds.