Thursday, September 4, 2008

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those that like Neil Diamond, and THE CLINICALLY INSANE.

Inspiration for the title courtesy of Bob Wiley, “What About Bob.”

It is a proven scientific fact that it is unnatural to dislike certain things. Sunsets, baby laughter, chimpanzee trickery, midgets on television, the smell of freshly baked cookies, home made bread, Al Pacino films, and at the top of the list…Neil Diamond’s music. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t smile and sway to “Song Sung Blue” you have no soul. If your toe doesn’t tap to “Forever in Blue Jeans” then that foot had better be prosthetic or your heart is made of black tar and sorrow.

When I was 13 I asked for a CD player for Christmas. That would have been 1990, so CD players were still relatively new and record stores were plagued with cassette tapes. But the man in red came through and delivered a gorgeous graphite-grey CD player along with three new CDs: Neil Diamond’s 2-disc boxed greatest hits, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, and Vanilla Ice – To the Extreme. Neil Diamond was my very first CD and I still own it to this day. And Ice is still too cold. I love that album.

I’ve seen Neil Diamond in concert 3 times, one of which was a Christmas show. Nothing ushers in the Christmas spirit like a 60-year-old Jew in purple sequins growling out “Siiiiyalennnnt, naaaiiiggghhht…yeeeahh” with a 30 ft. Christmas tree at the center of his rotating octagonal stage flanked by the half-naked black bongo player. He is a joy to listen to and a true American icon. I even loved “The Jazz Singer.”

Last week I read the following story on Rolling Stone’s website:


Neil Diamond To Refund 11,000 Tickets After Poor Ohio Performance
8/28/08, 3:13 pm EST

Following a poor performance at a concert in Columbus, Ohio, singer Neil Diamond felt it necessary to say sorry to his fans. But instead of just issuing an apology (which he did) and promising to perform better his next time through Ohio (which he said he will), Diamond will instead refund the tickets of every single person who attended the August 25th concert at the Value City Arena. To break it down numerically, that’s 11,000 tickets that the Solitary Man will refund. Diamond is in the thick of a U.S. tour, and during the last few shows, the singer had been suffering from acute laryngitis. He still made it to the Columbus stage, but fans were soon greeted onstage by a hoarse sounding singer. “Dear Fans in Columbus,” Diamond said in a statement, “I haven’t let you down before, and I won’t let you down now. Until you hear from me again remember, You are the sun. I am the moon. You are the words. I am the tune. Forgive me. I love you. Neil.”

The all-out refund shocked even the concert’s promoter, with Scott Stienecker saying “I’ve sat through Vince Neil falling-down drunk before. I’ve sat through Bob Dylan not even acknowledging that there was a crowd,” and neither of those artists refunded the fans. In an effort to avoid future refunds, and due to his ongoing throat problems, Diamond has cancelled two concerts this week.


First I’ll address the unparalleled class of Neil Diamond. This is 2008. The world is ruled by idiots and customer service is dead. For him to fully refund hundreds, if not thousands of tickets, without so much as blinking speaks volumes for his character. Do you know what kind of flaming ricin-coated hoops one has to jump through to get a refund from a 2-hour long dinner service at Applebees where a cockroach crawled off your Bruschetta Burger, winked at you, and scurried off to the next table? Easily the worst chain restaurant in America, yet I’m strangely drawn to the damned place every time we eat out. It MUST be the blondie.

But more importantly, what kind of gall would one need in order to demand a refund from Neil Diamond? He is untouchable. He is the sequin-covered god of music. Being within 100 yards of him belting out “Play Me” will enrich your life forever. Your complaint is that his voice sounded “raspy?” Do you not LISTEN to Neil? He smoked six packs of cigarettes a day and drank full fifths of hard liquor. His voice has sounded raspy since 1983, and that was long before his 100th birthday when I’m fairly sure his voice took a turn for the raspier.

You are not getting THIS Neil...

You are getting THIS Neil.

His speaking voice alone sounds like sandpaper on a chalkboard. You don’t go to a Diamond show for vocal quality. Check local listings for Michael Bolton and Josh Groban elsewhere. You go to Neil to experience a man whose age has to be understated by 15 years shake his mirror-ball-booty and growl out some wistful notes that remind you that you are truly happy underneath all the stress lines, wrinkles, and tired muscles. “Cherry Baby” live transports me to a different dimension, a realm where nothing exists but warmth and joy. Raspiness of voice matters nothing to me.

Memo to the young hipster posers of the world. You are unworthy to request anything of Neil Diamond. If you don’t like what you get from a 114-year-old modern-day minstrel, then go back to your Fallout Boy and wallow in its filth. Neil Diamond is a legend. He should have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a decade ago and his not being there today is one of the real travesties of our day, next to Katrina and global warming.

Neil, you’ve got my love. I don’t care if you dress up like a clown and mime to your music onstage, you’ll have my $50 anytime you come back to Utah.


The Harding Hive said...


Anonymous said...

Neil Diamond is only one of two men (the other, Cat Stevens, pre-Yusuf Islam) that could really make me think about abandoning my job as a wife and mother and high-tailing it outta here. LOVE HIM!!