She loved him, for sure. She loved that Bob Zimmerman who renamed himself Dylan and the song ‘Diamonds and Rust’ that she wrote a dozen years after their affair proves it. I’ve always been haunted by the image in it of her watching him, his back toward her, as he looked out the window of a rundown hotel in the Village; the brave vulnerability in that line “speaking strictly for me we both could have died then and there.” In that moment anyway, she was ecstatically happy.
She wrote ‘Diamonds and Rust’ the same year she let someone shoot this brief footage of her in a bar where she has gone to meet her former lover. In the two-minute segment she suggestively caresses her shot glass, arches her back, comes in too close, far too close to this man who no longer loves her. It squeezes the heart to see it. Slide the bar in to about one minutes 25 seconds marker to catch the brief, brief scene.
So apparently there was sex between them; however there is never only sex between two people. If they sleep together over a period of time it is never ‘only’ sex I don’t think. I remember feeling cloven in two the first time I read the book by Evelyn and James Whitehead called The Sense of Sexuality. They assert that in sex very subtle but real promises are always made, promises not well kept in casual encounters. “They need a home, a place in which to grow.” We also need to rescue Eros from its contemporary degraded connotation as the merely erotic, they say. In classical times, people understood Eros to represent our passionate drive for life and growth. “It moves in all our longings to make contact, to be quite literally in touch. That’s Eros, whereas intimacy refers to the many ways we hold one another. As friends we hold one another in affection. As colleagues, we hold one another accountable in work. Intimacy is part of sex but it encompasses more than sex they say. “An intimate relationship draws us close enough to one another that we are changed in the process”.
Maybe that’s what happened between these two.
Anyway here footage from the 2005 Scorsese documentary No Direction Home. Watch it and think about who you have linked your life to, whether in passion, or work, or devotion to a cause; then think what the two of you together have put in the world as a result.
We don’t know what there was between this Baez and Dylan when they were this young in a long-gone world. We do know what they did together; we know the songs he wrote and she sang in that long ago time. Dylan himself speaks about four minutes and again at eleven minutes in. The best part though is Joan, all grown up in her 60s, looking back with such kind wisdom at the boy who broke her heart.