Barb fell in love in an instant. Before she crushed on Kevin Costner, before she swooned for Bradley Cooper, hell--before she married me, there was Neil. Neil Leslie Diamond: Grammy Award winner, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2011, Kennedy Center Honoree, movie
star actor, and writer and performer of the song Sweet Caroline, which yesterday was added to the U.S. Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
Barb has been a fan (Diamondite? Neil Head?) since the early days, the Neil-dressed-in-black days. Neil was hip then, a long-haired singer-songwriter in the age of long-haired singer-songwriters. He escaped Tin Pan Alley to record his own work, and to make a life and living on the road. Did Barb first hear him on a car's dismal AM radio? Or with slightly better sound on a friend's stereo? However she first came across it, she connected. She was there for his high school tours in the 1960s. She was there for the first of the big arena tours in the early '70s. And then she brought me in...
My first Neil Diamond experience was in 1977 at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. This was the Jonathan Livingston Seagull Tour, with Diamond's Grammy-winning score accompanied by video's of a soaring seagull in flight. I could have used that bird to give me a ride home since the next morning I had six A.M. surgical rounds at Illinois Masonic Hospital on the south side of Chicago. I'm sure I hummed Brother Love through most of my procedures that day.
How many ND concerts have Barb and I enjoyed together since that first one? We have seen him indoors and outdoors. We cheered on the Headed for the Future tour. There was the Jazz Singer tour which brought in droves of blue-haired 70-year-old women who had fallen in love with Almost Cantor Jess Robin. We swooned at the poignancy of Brooklyn Roads and the schmaltz of Heartlight. We were always sure of glittering jackets on Neil, King Errisson on percussion, and Linda Press channeling Barbra Streisand on You Don't Send Me Flowers. And we remembered to stand for Forever in Blue Jeans. Neil seemed amazed every time the crowd did that--even though he had asked us to!
The coup de grâce? The road trip to Montreal a month before Michael and Becca's wedding, with third-row center seats and special NEIL DIAMOND tee shirts. I still wear mine, Barb seems embarrassed to wear her's.
We never missed a tour, because we never knew when it would be Neil's last. The touring career ended last year with the diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. But Sweet Caroline still rings out at every ball game, every Bar Mitzvah, everywhere that people come to congregate and have a good time. Congratulations to Neil, and thanks to the Library of Congress for recognizing the masterwork of a masterworker.
So Good! So Good! So Good!
Did you miss yesterday's post? Here it is! May it bring you joy!
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