Monday, January 24, 2011
Happy Birthday Neil Diamond!
Neil Diamond is my favorite solo musician. He's been writing songs since the 1960s and is still going strong, releasing his most recent album of original songs Home Before Dark in 2008. This past year he released Dreams, a collection of reinterpretations of his favorite songs by other artists.
Like Queen, part of Neil Diamond's appeal is his magnificent stage shows, complete with his famous sparkled shirts. I've been fortunate enough to see Neil Diamond in concert twice (once in 2001 at Madison Square Garden and once in 2008 at Fenway Park). I also squeezed my way to the front row of Neil's performance at NYU back in 2001 where I competed for his attention amongst a sea of approximately 400 women aged 50 and older. It was pretty amazing and I managed to get some awesome photographs (though I was too shy to take any while he was actually looking in my direction!).
If anyone is unfamiliar with Neil's songs, here are a few of my favorites for your consideration.
1) Hello, Again: Husband and I used this song as our first dance at our wedding reception. It's very simple and very sweet.
2) If You Know What I Mean: I'd never heard this song when I saw Neil in 2001, but when he played it at that show, I immediately loved it. I returned home and deduced which song it was by remembering a few of the lyrics. The studio version is just as powerful as the live version was (and I have to say I was rather disappointed when he didn't play this song in 2008).
3) Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show: This song always reminds me of my dad. His favorite line is "Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes." The song has a mock-gospel feel to it, complete with Neil's own spoken sermon halfway through. Awesome!
4) The Story of My Life: One of my first favorite Neil Diamond songs. Figure skater Brian Orser skated to this song and I was instantly a fan.
5) I'm a Believer: Sure, this song has been covered a hundred times, most famously by the Monkees and Smash Mouth, but did you realize that Neil Diamond wrote it? He also wrote two other famous songs by the Monkees "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)". I was a Monkees fan as a little girl so Neil had a spot in my heart even back then!
In March, Neil Diamond will be inducted (finally) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Congratulations in advance, Neil! And Happy Birthday!