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Bob Dylan — Black Diamond Bay
Album: Desire
Avg rating:
6.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1157









Released: 1976
Length: 7:24
Plays (last 30 days): 0
Up on the white veranda
She wears a necktie and her Panama hat.
Her passport shows a face
From another time and place
She looks nothin' like that.
And all the remnants of her recent past
Are scattered in the wild wind.
She walks across the marble floor
Where a voice from the gambling room is callin' her to come on in.
She smiles, walks the other way
As the last ship sails and the moon fades away
From Black Diamond Bay.

As the mornin' light breaks open, the Greek comes down
And he asks for a rope and a pen that will write.
"Pardon, monsieur," the desk clerk says,
Carefully removes his fez,
"Am I hearin' you right?"
And as the yellow fog is liftin'
The Greek is quickly headin' for the second floor.
She passes him on the spiral staircase
Thinkin' he's the Soviet Ambassador,
She starts to speak, but he walks away
As the storm clouds rise and the palm branches sway
On Black Diamond Bay.

A soldier sits beneath the fan
Doin' business with a tiny man who sells him a ring.
Lightning strikes, the lights blow out.
The desk clerk wakes and begins to shout,
"Can you see anything?"
Then the Greek appears on the second floor
In his bare feet with a rope around his neck,
While a loser in the gambling room lights up a candle,
Says, "Open up another deck."
But the dealer says, "Attendez-vous, s'il vous plait,''
As the rain beats down and the cranes fly away
From Black Diamond Bay.

The desk clerk heard the woman laugh
As he looked around in the aftermath and the soldier got tough.
He tried to grab the woman's hand,
Said, "Here's a ring, it cost a grand."
She said, "That ain't enough."
Then she ran upstairs to pack her bags
While a horse-drawn taxi waited at the curb.
She passed the door that the Greek had locked,
Where a handwritten sign read, "Do Not Disturb."
She knocked upon it anyway
As the sun went down and the music did play
On Black Diamond Bay.

"I've got to talk to someone quick!"
But the Greek said, "Go away," and he kicked the chair to the floor.
He hung there from the chandelier.
She cried, "Help, there's danger near
Please open up the door!"
Then the volcano erupted
And the lava flowed down from the mountain high above.
The soldier and the tiny man were crouched in the corner
Thinking of forbidden love.
But the desk clerk said, "It happens every day,"
As the stars fell down and the fields burned away
On Black Diamond Bay.

As the island slowly sank
The loser finally broke the bank in the gambling room.
The dealer said, "It's too late now.
You can take your money, but I don't know how
You'll spend it in the tomb."
The tiny man bit the soldier's ear
As the floor caved in and the boiler in the basement blew,
While she's out on the balcony, where a stranger tells her,
"My darling, je vous aime beaucoup."
She sheds a tear and then begins to pray
As the fire burns on and the smoke drifts away
From Black Diamond Bay.

I was sittin' home alone one night in L.A.,
Watchin' old Cronkite on the seven o'clock news.
It seems there was an earthquake that
Left nothin' but a Panama hat
And a pair of old Greek shoes.
Didn't seem like much was happenin',
So I turned it off and went to grab another beer.
Seems like every time you turn around
There's another hard-luck story that you're gonna hear
And there's really nothin' anyone can say
And I never did plan to go anyway
To Black Diamond Bay.
Comments (191)add comment
 laverdakeith wrote:
Just starting a tricky weld when this came on so unable to get to the computer and immediately press the Please Stop Dylan button.  Fucked the weld up, that is how much Bobby D grates my groove, been welding for 30 years.... If Mr Dylan felt so compelled to tell stories he should have wrote a book.
 

He did.
Sorry, I'll be the hater. I know Bob Dylan is a great poet. But man, I can't get more sick of his voice. You all can listen: I'm hitting Radio Paradise's convenient skip button, hoping for Train or Robert Plant or...literally anything else.
 On_The_Beach wrote:
Bob's music is not for the simple-minded.
 
Nor for those lacking stamina
Wonderful song, good album, brilliant artist!
Desire - what a great album
Still a 10
Just starting a tricky weld when this came on so unable to get to the computer and immediately press the Please Stop Dylan button.  Fucked the weld up, that is how much Bobby D grates my groove, been welding for 30 years.... If Mr Dylan felt so compelled to tell stories he should have wrote a book.
And a story it was so well Dylan done
There's a new Scorsese documentary on the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour (circa '75) on Netflix.
Worth a look; the concert footage is the highlight, IMO.
Sounds like Emmy Lou.
Hey Bobby,

Come back to US and do some shows on Highway 61. maybe in Keokuk?  What about Hannibal?   They got cheap motels and you can get a breaded pork tenderloin. 
truth lives forever.
Love Dylan, but that was  bad...
Future Wes Anderson movie?
 janeanger wrote:
i've nothing against dylan, but this song goes on FOREVER.
 
Many of his do - they have 5, 6, 7 verses!
One of my favorite albums of all time. Love the drums - brilliant on this track particularly. This is a long one and I'm not as fond of it as I once was, but it has special place for me... amongst the first songs I learned on guitar and memorized the lyrics. 
Makes me want to dance a little jig, in the aisle at a live show, avoiding bumping into people.   

Live music, baby! 
 gmichaelt wrote:
Can we argue over whether this one is in the balance on the side of the Nobel?

 


Only if you get all participants massively stoned. 
Drummer and Bassist are perfect here!
this song is way better than a six  6.8    really people,  this guy telling us a great story here and you can  tap your toe to it too. lot going on there, needs to a 8  really
That aside, there's something genuinely 'funny' about the audio of this track. In particular, there seems to be a couple of places where it sounded 'fudged', making the vocals quite difficult to match to the lyrics as presented. Strangely, I noticed it while I was 'reading along' — the effect was subtle enough that I had to check for a second instance, so it was quite subtle. I only copied "As the fire burns on" as one instance, a later one. Reason to listen carefully next time it plays. Oh, boy!
Can we argue over whether this one is in the balance on the side of the Nobel?
In general his lyrics or even his songs may be great but BD is not my cup of tee, to say it politely...
 dwlangham wrote:
I'm trying to hang with the cool kids. Smiling and bobbing my head, and can't wait for this to be over.

 
While I don't agree with you, that's actually quite funny!

Not that I was one of the cool kids...
 Too long, Bob, too long.
Wkipedia Black Diamond Bay

As described by Heylin, "Black Diamond Bay" describes the destruction of a tiny island (following the eruption of a volcano), observed from two perspectives: from a hotel on the island itself and from the narrator's point of view through a television news report. The song essentially describes what the people on the island are doing at the time - often drawing attention to the ironic futility of their actions (for example, one of the islanders is preparing to commit suicide when the volcano erupts and destroys the island). The song also describes the news-watcher's indifference to the catastrophes he hears about on Walter Cronkite's TV newscast, as the narrator goes to get another beer rather than watch the news story about the catastrophe on the island. He says "I never did plan to go anyway to Black Diamond Bay." Joseph Conrad's novel Victory was a major influence to this song, which references many of its themes. The song title, the island, the volcano, the gambling, and the Panama hat are all references to Victory. A drawing of Conrad appeared on the back of the album sleeve.

Add Emmylou Harris – background vocals  Adds 2 rating points


 ajlept wrote:
Marshall did a cover of this with Festus and Miss Kitty on background. Check it out!
 
. . . with Doc on banjo and Burt Reynolds on fiddle!
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/bf/65/4e/bf654e8b8d42524ef827c27a9e52b1b5.jpg
 dragon1952 wrote:
In the scheme of all Dillon songs pretty mediocre.

 
Marshall did a cover of this with Festus and Miss Kitty on background. Check it out!

The Master himself, and another great turn from Emmy Lou.

Probably can count on one finger the radio stations that have ever played this fine piece of music.
As the island slowly sank, the loser finally broke the bank. Ain't that a fucking nightmare?
One of the best (and most timeless) stories, from the greatest of story-tellers. 
Oooh, a Bob Dylan dance song. You can do a little calypso jig to this,  
very glad to be living in the same (almost) time frame as such a great artist as Dylan, the man can write and compose above compare
Some funy thing is going in golf of Lion and around.


Well, good ol' Bob! (With his voice intact) Cheers! {#Cheers}

"Her passport shows a face
From another time and place
She looks nothin' like that."

Social networking {#Laughing} 
primm wrote:
LOVE THIS TUNE !

 
ME TOO!
Play it loud!
LOVE THIS TUNE !
While I enjoy this track, it does seem to be in HEAVY rotation here.
Based on the overall ratings, this song makes me wish users had a ration of "bonus" ratings to dole out.  I would give this another 10, just as I would give the U2 songs that have been dominating the playlists lately an extra Sucko-Barfo.
I'm trying to hang with the cool kids. Smiling and bobbing my head, and can't wait for this to be over.
 Bat wrote:

I completely agree about "Blood on the Track" and almost agree on "Desire".

The only thing that puts me off on "Desire" is the song "Joey" which I guess is supposed to make me feel sympathy for a gangster.

 
Yeah but Joey is one helluva great song regardless.

Besides, many criminals turned to crime because they are weak or somehow substandard.  

Best not to judge too harshly judge or demonize.  Look at the War on Terrorism, those fighting the glorious War on Terrorism actually kill  more civilians than the terrorists, and the cycle of violence continues in the form of blow back.  
In the scheme of all Dillon songs pretty mediocre.
 Emwolb wrote:
Need to add a PAINFUL choice in the ratings...and I like Dylan
 
Yes, it sounds like you really LOVE him...  Ha!
What a fun song from a great album.  Thanks for playing. 
One of my favorite Dylan songs!
Thank you Radio Paradise!
I love the harmonica/violin duets in the intro and outro. Also, this is a great example of Bob the singing storyteller in action.
Bob's music is not for the simple-minded.
 Yes. Very. Like nails on a freakin' chalkboard


melkhyah wrote:
Annoying . . .

 

Annoying . . .
A great song from one of my favorite Dylan albums. So happy to hear it on RP!
 Emwolb wrote:
Need to add a PAINFUL choice in the ratings...and I like Dylan
 
need to ad an idiot button for twerps 
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm gooooood very tasty , thanks bob and billg.
A rarity for a Bob Dylan song... the music is as painful as the vocals!
Is there an Emmy Lou index for tracks on RP?

I suppose this is a good starting point:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmylou_Harris_collaborations_A%E2%80%93F

luv4music wrote:
Just love Emmy Lou's back up vocals!

 


Just love Emmy Lou's back up vocals!
Turn up the volume!
This makes me very happy!
The whole album does!

{#Yell}  "this is taken from a GODLIKE album"  {#Clap}
 ziakut wrote:
...and the crapfest begins.
 
Another great song from Dylan.
Sorry to hear about your gastrointestinal problems.
...and the crapfest begins.
Need to add a PAINFUL choice in the ratings...and I like Dylan
love the drumming on this album
 fredriley wrote:

In the immortal words of Joe Strummer: "F*ckin' long, innit?"

 
That gem from Joe becomes a little more mortal every time you repeat it, fred. 
Bobby is going down a little rough this morning...Argg...
 stalfnzo wrote:
What in the world is he mumbling about? Can't understand a thing he says.

 
We all got that you don't get this song on your last comment. Personally I think it is sublime.

AND I understand all of the lyrics.
I would like this better without the horrible "harmony"


What in the world is he mumbling about? Can't understand a thing he says.

love love love the drumming on this album
I usually love Dylan--but can't stand this song. Odd--seems that those who usually dislike him love it!

Everybody in my church loves this song...
 

This is about the 1st Dylan song I've heard that I am enjoying.


 ziakut wrote:
Does this song really still need to be playing? I think we all 'got it' after the first 30 seconds. Geez. {#Beat}
 
In the immortal words of Joe Strummer: "F*ckin' long, innit?"
Does this song really still need to be playing? I think we all 'got it' after the first 30 seconds. Geez. {#Beat}
This song gets the highest possible vote on a Bob Dylan song ever from this listener! A strong, amazing and solid "4".
 TJS wrote:
Finally a Bob Dylan song that doesn't make me want to stick a pencil in my ear.  Well done.
 
Agreed.
Her passport shows a face from
Another time and place,
She looks nothing like that!

9
The Greek?

The Greek
Finally a Bob Dylan song that doesn't make me want to stick a pencil in my ear.  Well done.
 westslope wrote:
I always thought that Desire and Blood on the Tracks were Dylan's best.
 
I completely agree about "Blood on the Track" and almost agree on "Desire".

The only thing that puts me off on "Desire" is the song "Joey" which I guess is supposed to make me feel sympathy for a gangster.
 westslope wrote:
I always thought that Desire and Blood on the Tracks were Dylan's best.
 
Street Legal is too lightly regarded also, imo
Having to listen to Dylan for a few excruciating minutes is the punishment I must pay for enjoying RadioParadise so much the rest of the time.

I always thought that Desire and Blood on the Tracks were Dylan's best.
The thing is , he can't do anything like this anymore.

All the more reason we should cherish it.
I'd never heard this song before.  I sure do love it!  Can't keep my body still.
God I love this song.   Big fav of mine.
Thanks Bill :)
 
i cant wait to download the New confession app.....bob did
 pojms wrote:
most excellent tune on a most excellent album. accompanied by emmylou and her sweet sweet harmonies. melancholy violin. dylan's whiney nasal garblespeak at its inglorious best. sweet and pretty it's not. generic and safe.. never.   
 

Amen!
The desk clerk heard the woman laugh
As he looked around the aftermath, the soldier got tough
He tried to grab the woman's hand
Said, "Here's a ring it cost a grand"
She said, "That ain't enough"


most excellent tune on a most excellent album. accompanied by emmylou and her sweet sweet harmonies. melancholy violin. dylan's whiney nasal garblespeak at its inglorious best. sweet and pretty it's not. generic and safe.. never.   
 lmic wrote:
The dissing of Dylan takes me back to the clueless faux sophistication of a college sophomore. I remember claiming at age 20 that Shakespeare was overrated. {#Rolleyes}

It's OK, I got bettah.
 

He was, wasn't he?

I have never enjoyed BD the way that many do - it's that weasely voice thing.  But I can appreciate: his songs (usually when covered by others): his craftsmanship to scuplt songs;  the fact that a poor voice makes many of his tunes so memorable; and his general and long-held 'could not give a toss' attitude to his industry.   He does what he does and I like that.   Not so keen on this toon though.

Where would we be without him?
Nothing but 10's on this record.
 geordiezimmerman wrote:
Love to know what this song is about.
 

Does every song have to be about something?  It's a story song.  Either you enjoy the story, the images and characters created by the storyteller, or you don't.
Love to know what this song is about.
my GOD when will this one end?

i've heard enough dylan for a lifetime. make that two lifetimes. 
Is that Adam Sandler on the cover ?
lol

great song & album
Drumming
Emmylou...
Effortless...

 Businessgypsy wrote:
Certain artists seem to attract an almost religious following - complete with shunning, excommunication, jihad and death to the infidels.
 
Quite. What's particularly ironic is that he himself was an iconoclast, yet is deemed by his more fanatical followers to be an icon beyond iconoclasm. I'm a big fan of his as a songwriter, but his singing voice has always hurt my ears, so I prefer to hear covers of his work. For all that, this one is tolerable, just, but does go on a bit...


Certain artists seem to attract an almost religious following - complete with shunning, excommunication, jihad and death to the infidels. I really enjoy his theme time radio hour on Sirius, but remain a pagan when called to worship. According to a prior poster, this qualifies as faux sophistication. Faux So lah-ti-deaux!

{#Roflol}
 
ick wrote:

nope... drunken Japanese businessmen are still the founders of karaoke.

 
...and obviously he is not one of them!
I love the way he says "S'il vous plait" - charming, really
I do like his voice very much, but I remember the first time I was just totally lost, not to mention the fact that not being an English native speaker, I barely followed even with the lyrics.
As deepgaze wrote it
"Even the not-so-stellar voice was an innovation, before that you had to have a great voice, after Dylan, not necessarily"
Yes!


I really think this song is great, what a storyteller Dylan is.
awful

One of my all time favourite albums!
Pure GOLD!

 stalfnzo wrote:
{#Stupid}    What the HELL is he saying?! Sounds like Pig Latin with a speech impediment
 https://tinyurl.com/ydy5h7o


{#Cowboy}

I love the backup vocals and violin on this song, all to the steady beat of a simple snare.  Fantastic.


v
Safe yet?
Great album!
Bobby, quite the story teller.
 deepgaze wrote:
Here's the thing with Dylan for those who don't get him. He created song structure in ways that hadn't been done before. Now he doesn't sound as unique because his style has been imitated by many who followed. Even the not-so-stellar voice was an innovation, before that you had to have a great voice, after Dylan, not necessarily. Come to think of it, maybe he is also the father of karaoke.
 
nope... drunken Japanese businessmen are still the founders of karaoke.

R.I.P Cronkite...
 splooge wrote:
Oh goodness, this is really terrible. {#Doh}
 
Yep!

 burdell wrote:
I don't get it. There is nothing particularly interesting about this song. (Or most Dylan songs for that matter) Maybe it's that horribly nasally voice that I cannot get past - like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.
 
Thank you for those profound and incredibly original insights.


 Pyro wrote:
This has a similar feel to some song on Blood on the Tracks, but I can't place it.  Anyone?
 

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts?
{#Jump} perfect timing, ended before I could finish connecting the speaker plug {#Smile}
The dissing of Dylan takes me back to the clueless faux sophistication of a college sophomore. I remember claiming at age 20 that Shakespeare was overrated. {#Rolleyes}

It's OK, I got bettah.
 stalfnzo wrote:

Like I said... On an island where they speak Pig Latin.

 
You seem to be the only poster having trouble understanding the words.  I've heard MUCH worse "garble" from Bob, and this ain't it. 

Once you work past his voice, if you work past his voice, his songwriting art shines through thus the many covers.  Like the DB selections here on RP {#Jump}
This has a similar feel to some song on Blood on the Tracks, but I can't place it.  Anyone?
 cenesizo wrote:
This is one of Dylan's best songs. He is a great story teller. When I listen to this song, I can see myself on this island even though I never did plan to go anyway to Black Diamond Bay.
 
Like I said... On an island where they speak Pig Latin.

This is one of Dylan's best songs. He is a great story teller. When I listen to this song, I can see myself on this island even though I never did plan to go anyway to Black Diamond Bay.