After going through an extremely public conversion to evangelical Christianity, touring incessantly for four years and going through a very un-public and gradual conversation out of evangelical Christianity, Bob Dylan was burned out and unsure of his next move. So 1982 was one of the quietest years of Dylan’s career. Besides a few informal jam sessions at his Santa Monica recording studio and brief guest appearances on albums by Allen Ginsberg and his backup singer Clydie King, he stayed largely away from recording studios.
The only time he stepped on a concert stage the entire year took place on June 6th, 1982 at the Peace Sunday concert at the Rose Bowl, which was organized to promote nuclear disarmament. Approximately 85,000 people flocked to the stadium to see Gil Scott-Heron, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Taj Mahal, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and many others. Midway through the night, Joan Baez took the stage and played “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” “Warriors of the Sun,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Diamonds and Rust.”
The latter song is her 1975 classic about Bob Dylan inspired by a surprise late-night phone call between the former lovers. “Now you tell me you’re not nostalgic,” she sings. “Well give me another name for it/You who are so good with names/And at keeping things things vague.” There probably wasn’t a single person in the massive crowd that day who honestly thought Mr. Keeping Things Vague himself would come out at join her for the rest of her set. After all, he spent the entire 1960s avoiding nearly all political events. He never said a word against the Vietnam War, and he even refused to renounce it when given the opportunity by Sing Out! in 1968. “How do you know,” he asked, “that I’m not, as you say, for the war?”
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But for reasons that are unclear all these years later, he did reunite with Baez at the Peace Sunday for their first joint appearance since the end of the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1976. “There’s a special guest this evening I’m very honored to invite on,” Baez told the crowd as she looked toward an empty staircase on the side of the stage. “The suspense is killing me. Robert…” With that, Dylan came out with an acoustic guitar and they burst into “With God On Our Side” like it was 1963 all over again.
When it was done they threw everyone a real curveball by covering Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” even though they’d both turned 41 earlier in the year. It remains the only time Dylan has covered a Buffett song. They wrapped up with an inevitable “Blowin’ in the Wind,” which is cut a bit short on this recording. “Joan Baez and Bob Dylan on the same stage!” said the show’s announcer “Can you believe what we’re doing here today?”
Oddly enough, this wasn’t the most interesting thing to happen to Baez in 1982. It’s also the year she briefly dated obsessive Bob Dylan fan Steve Jobs, who later admitted one of her main appeals was the fact she used to date his hero.
It would be another two years before Dylan returned to the road for a co-headlining run of European stadiums with Carlos Santana. To goose sales, promoter Bill Graham added Baez to the bill. She was promised a nightly duet with Dylan, though she quickly bailed from the tour when she realized he was doing them under duress and was barely communicating with her backstage. They haven’t appeared together in public a single time in the past 32 years.