Bob Dylan, Saturday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m., Sold out, Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham,

“Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” was always the great Joan Baez and Bob Dylan duet, a three-minute symphony of passive-aggressive longing, sublimated jealousy, and immense mutual regard. Its participants prowl around one another uneasily, beautifying each other’s every syllable while remaining unwilling to even consider the cosmic profundity of their connection.

“Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat and covering/the crossroads I’m standing at,” goes its opening couplet, suggesting a deep and mysterious union occasioned by nature and fate. “I don’t even mind who you’ll be waking with tomorrow …” goes the gut-punch kiss-off, as the world’s two most outwardly ambivalent lovers pretend not to be deeply, privately obsessed.

“Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” is enchanting, strange, and sad. It was the presumptive musical and emotional high point of the joint bill Baez and Dylan played more than fifty years ago at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.

Joanie and Bobby, Bobby and Joan. The saga is romantic but full of pain. So much pain, so much of it rendered publicly. In 1962, Baez—the minted queen of the nascent folk boom—begins bringing out the then-unknown Dylan to perform a few songs in front of her large and adoring audiences. At the time, she is in love, and the exposure she provides him is invaluable, and yet it is possible that her motives are not entirely altruistic. It had already become an article of faith to everyone in the folk community that this strange, enchanted boy possessed a talent like no other, a supernova preparing to reset the firmament. Baez recognized the ramifications first of all. She calculated that even her wondrous skills would ultimately pale by the light of her strange hobo-paramour. Everyone’s would. By twinning herself with him, she staked her claim to history.

Dylan and Baez toured the world together, including a performance at the March on Washington. And then, in a sort of cruel inversion of A Star Is Born, he started to eclipse and forget her. In filmmaker DA Pennebaker’s legendary account of Dylan’s 1966 tour of Britain, Don’t Look Back, Baez appears as an ostensible collaborator, but is ultimately reduced to an object of vicious sport between Dylan and his dickish hanger-on Bobby Neuwirth. Night after night, he refuses to bring her on stage as promised, and her humiliation grows. There is an awfulness to this that makes you want to turn away from the picture, or even from Dylan entirely. The callow boy-king proceeds, imperious in the knowledge that his genius is a safety net for his sadism.

They parted company as his stature grew from rock star to generational icon to world-historic literary titan. But they didn’t stay apart for long. Dylan tapped Baez for his ambitious Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975, and cast her in a leading role in his simultaneous failed art film, Ranaldo & Clara, alongside his estranged wife, Sara Lowndes. If you think this sounds weird, then you don’t know the half. Onstage, they sing brilliantly together, a chemistry undiminished by time and torment. “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind” evolves into something more terrible and exultant: “I’m just whispering to myself/so that I can’t pretend.” Rumors of romance rekindled are never exactly confirmed, never exactly denied. So it goes for tumultuous decades.

It is a final irony that it was Joan, the master interpreter, and not Bob, the celebrated songwriter, who ultimately authored the definitive, no-holds-barred take on their fraught adventures: 1975’s “Diamonds & Rust.” It’s a song worthy of any of Dylan’s best, boasting cutting lines like “My poetry was lousy you said/Where are you calling from?”

When Baez played at DPAC in September as part of her 2018 Farewell Tour, she opened with Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and made her way through “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” and “Forever Young.” She also sang the songs of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Phil Ochs, and Antony & the Johnsons, amongst others. And then there was her own “Diamonds & Rust,” a painfully deep reckoning with an apparitional, estranged lover that is so transparently about Dylan that for years she lied to him and said it was about someone else, and for years he pretended to believe her. They may not appear together on stage, but they are never apart.

What of Baez and Dylan when he visits the same venue this week? Who is he anyway, nearing the very end of his Never-Ending Tour? An eerie savant of disguise and reinvention, late-period Dylan has shape-shifted between personas as gutbucket bluesman, thin-mustachioed sharpie, and desecrated crooner. He’s played each role with compelling relish, but even Houdini couldn’t escape himself. Squint and you can still see him, though you’ll have to squint hard. The shy kid from Hibbing, Minnesota, vibrating weirdly down some West Village corridor. The raspy ne’er-do-well unaccountably harmonizing with the mellifluous dark-haired beauty everyone had actually paid to see. The baby-faced man-child who the world’s most popular folk singer took under her wing and nurtured into posterity. Does he remember this?

Every night, I’d venture.