A friend posted a copy of Joan Baez singing “Diamonds and Rust” on his Facebook page. He said he had heard it in the Arrivals Lounge and couldn’t get the song out of his head. I clicked on the link and was immediately transported to Berkeley, California and my tiny little apartment on Spruce St. It was 1973. I was the ultimate Joan Baez groupie–had been since I was fourteen years old. I tried to learn how to play the guitar because she did. I didn’t have the discipline or the passion. I loved her choice of folk songs and equally loved it when she crossed over into rock and roll. She seemed to be able to do anything.
When Diamonds and Rust came out, I was heartbroken over a relationship that I had ended but hadn’t really wanted to. Don’t ask me to explain, I was 26 years old and very crazy. I would sit in my little living room and listen to the album over and over. And now as I listened to the song, while looking at the Seine and the Pont Neuf, I had a strange feeling in my stomach. The past trying to edge it’s way in maybe. I’m not one to sit around regretting the past, it is what it is. However there is something about music that grabs me and hauls me backwards in time so fast I could almost believe in a time machine.
This is the same nostalgia that Ms. Baez writes about in the song. It feel almost like the lip of a deep hole that you could fall into. The older we get, the more we look backwards. It’s how we look backwards that makes the difference. I have such a wonderful life today. There are times I wish I’d known this kind of happiness back then. But I didn’t. Do I have regrets about decisions I made–yes, I do. At the same time, the decisions that I did make led me to today–which is a wonderful day. Funnily enough, almost all the YouTube links I’ve been listening to were recorded and/or filmed in France. I think the French must have loved her.
Joan Baez celebrated her 75th birthday this past summer. I learned that piece of information trolling through all the YouTube songs. I’ve been following and listening to her for over 50 years. Now sitting here looking out my window from my life in Paris, I thank you Joan Baez for all the wonderful songs and memories you’ve given me over the years.
Happy Birthday, Joan Baez