365 Days of Album Recommendations – Aug 29

Joan Baez – Diamonds & Rust


Growing up, and slowly attempting to become a musician, I already knew I didn’t have a good voice in any traditional sense of the idea. I’d been laughed at for my voice from a young age; cruel teachers and lousy friends go back a long ways, it turns out.

Anyhow, I was determined all the same, but hung up as I was about my voice, it was inevitable I would be largely suspicious of artists with legitimately great voices.

I am also the son of writers, and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a writer. So that pretty much set the stakes for my artistic aspirations, and it pretty much defined who my heroes would be—great songwriters with weird voices.

So I didn’t grow up liking Joan Baez.

What changed?

Judas Priest. Can you believe it? It’s true. I was a huge Judas Priest fan as a teenager, and Unleashed in the East was one of my favorite albums. And they cover Diamonds & Rust on that album (the studio version is on Sin After Sin). And I was hypnotized by the vocal melody and the lyrics. I found it was Joan Baez’s tune, so I checked it out, and I loved it.

I don’t really think of this album as being particularly representative of Joan Baez’s overall oeuvre, and I still don’t really enjoy a lot of her work—bit syrupy for me—but this album is legitimately legend material.

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