I’m a jumble of conflicting emotions. Something’s been brewing for a long time and may have finally peaked. It has not made me feel better or given me any satisfaction however. I will likely find a plateau and remain there until I croak. Sounds rather dubious, but it’s not. Part of my story, so here goes.
|Yeah, this is about the time it started…|
My feelings/wide spectrum of emotions-warmth-yearning-guilt-euphoria-nostalgic-sadness-love-acceptance started 50 years ago in my mid-teens. I chalked it up to normal teenage-girl-hood. By 1970, these feelings were safely stashed away. Kicked to the curb. I was after all, a happily married woman. To Hubs. More importantly, I was with child, soon to be a first time mom. I had enough on my plate, no time for far-reaching, fantasy daydreams.
I have never really been attached to the TV. Do I watch it? I do. Could I live without it? I believe so. There are a few programs I enjoy. But they have never been as important to me as music. Listening to music that moves me and my soul in all different ways. Hearing a song from my past, remembering where I was, what was happening in my life. Sometimes accompanied by remembering certain smells. I do have some goofy songs by current hip-hop artists which keep my feet (and big ass) moving when I walk. Hymns that cause a lump in my throat and make me cry every time I see them in the hymn book. Yes, music has been an important part of my life.
|Mommy & Shannon bath time, Hinton, Iowa 1973…|
Until I lost a big share of my hearing about 20 years ago, I had the radio on constantly. Would not drive anywhere unless my favorite station was playing loud and clear. I listened to the top hits until Shannon was in high school during the mid/late 80’s. It suddenly hit me. I wasn’t enjoying the artists/songs like I used to. The search was on for the stations that played the songs I grew up loving. Music from the mid-60’s to the late 70’s. I was chided, scolded, tormented, and teased by my kids. When they were in the car they constantly begged me to change the station. New rule. My car, my gas, my insurance, guess who gets to pick the radio station? Me. Little shits.
The Beatles, Dave Clark 5, Buckinghams, Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Kinks, The Doors, Animals, Monkees, Mamas & the Papas, The Hollies. I could go on but now you have the general idea of my tastes in music. In my humble opinion, The Beatles were the best band ever and made the biggest impact in the music world. Hands down. As much as I have always loved their music, or how stinking cute I thought Paul was, The Beatles pale considerably to the number 1 music love of my life.
It finally occured how much this unrequited love interest of mine really meant to me. A weird TV show, ‘Fantasy Island’ premiered in the late 70’s. “Ze plane, ze plane.” By now, John and I were about to become a family of 5. I was nearing my 30th birthday. No longer a love sick silly girl. But whenever I watched Fantasy Island, I knew in my heart what my own fantasy was, and freely told everyone. I wanted to be on a desert island. For my own personal concert. One fan. Me. One-super-hot-songwriter-singer-serenading-me. Neil. Diamond.
|At this age, the kids drove me crazy with the car radio…|
I’ve no clue why I fell so hard for Neil. A possibility perhaps, his personal, touching, written lyrics. Or one could assume, it’s his heartfelt, unforgettable accompanying music. Probably a mixture of both, making instant connections with millions of fans. Neil, one-of-a-kind-sexy-voiced-rocker-crooner-ballad-singer. As an extra added bonus, his incredible drop dead gorgeous good looks. Other than that, there was nothing really special about the man. He had me at Solitary Man. (Which I thought meant he would never marry because I was his number 1 love (whom he would never meet because I was getting married to another. Now that’s been a bitter pill to swallow. He’s on wifey number 3, the two-timing, I mean three-timing scoundrel). Then again, maybe he’s just never been satisfied because he couldn’t have ME! My story. Sticking to it.
Play Me… Neil Diamond
You are the sun, I am the moon,
You are the words, I am the tune
Neil starred in a movie called The Jazz Singer, in 1980. He plays a Jewish Cantor, struggling with his marriage and religion while being pulled into the secular world, writing music and performing. While the movie was not a blockbuster, (though it remains one of my favorites) the movie soundtrack got rave reviews. Love on the Rocks, and America were 2 of the hits. When I got one of Diamond’s later CD’s as a gift, I got into huge trouble. At the time I was driving a ’92 DeVille with a Bose stereo system. Blew out one of the speakers learning the words to Neil’s new songs. Hubs was not at all pleased. Maybe jealous? Or he thought singing at the top of my lungs (along with Neil) inappropriate behavior while driving a Caddy. Whatever.
|Concert stage at The Palace for Neil Diamond, 6-2-17|
Until this week, I laid eyes on my main (secret-but pretty much everyone knew) squeeze twice. First near Chicago around 1985 when we were living in Davenport. Neil was in his mid-40’s. His concert garb was brightly colored beaded, sequined shirts. And he wore them well. Very well. The second time I saw him in concert was about 10 years later in Grand Rapids, with Hubs about 1997. I immediately noticed my feelings for my favorite singer had not diminshed one whit. His concert was even better than the first time. It wasn’t long after hearing Neil in Grand Rapids, I started going deaf. The decade (not the day for me the music died). Instead of listening constantly to an oldies station, the radio now remains off.
Beautiful Noise…. Neil Diamond
It’s a beautiful noise
And it’s a sound that I love
And it fits me as well
As a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does.
Months ago I noticed Neil was going on his 50th anniversary tour (in the music business) and stopping in Detroit. I just had to see him again. One more time. My concert buddy, fabulous-daughter-in-law Erica graciously agreed to go with. She’s a music freak. And she would pick out where to sit, buy the tickets and let me know how much I owed her. Not to be. Turns out Erica was going to Japan for 2 weeks for Nissan. Figured we’d just forget about Neil (as if). But Erica, being the thoughtful soul she is, didn’t tell me there would be no concert date. Instead she enlisted (blackmail or old-fashioned arm twisting was more than likely involved) a co-worker/good friend of hers, Jeff Van Wormer to drag this old lady to one of the few concerts he probably didn’t care if he attended or not. Jeff is cut from the same freaky music cloth as E. Erica also arranged for my granddaughter Ariana to take her place at the concert with me. Poor Jeff. He was such a good sport. If Ari wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of watching a 75 year old man sing his heart out for 2 solid hours, she hid it very well. I saw no time checking, impatience or eye-rolling from her or Jeff throughout the night.
|My Golden Ticket…|
It started a couple of days before the concert. This mish-mash of emotions. Although extremely excited, there was almost a feeling of dread. Gone was the heart-throbbing, goofy crush once and for all. And it didn’t feel morbid, but there was some sadness and angst. I just knew this would be the last time. I would never get to watch, listen, sing along, enjoy, reminisce with my dear old friend Neil again. That was the part I was dreading. Not that I had planned on seeing him since the concert 20 years ago. Still, I knew this was gonna be the last time.
|Our suite was furnished with great snacks…|
Jeff managed to secure a suite for our concert experience. Wow. That’s definitely the way to enjoy a show. The suite was enclosed and could hold 30 people. There were 3 rows of great seats outside the room. And center stage was directly in front of the chair I claimed. Inside, we had our own bathroom, fresh fruit, veggies, chips, dips, popcorn, desserts, and nachos. Plus pop, wine, beer and water. Heaven. I grazed for a solid hour.
Song Sung Blue… Neil Diamond
Song sung blue, everybody knows one
Song sung blue every garden grows one.
Me and you are subject to the blues now and then
But when you take the blues and make a song,
You sing them out again, sing them out again.
The Palace of Auburn Hills was absolutely packed. Even the back of the stage. In a written review the next morning, this was the sentence that stuck with me. ‘Neil Diamond’s been selling out arenas longer than many people reading this review have been alive.’ Neil might have moved a little slower (as do I), maybe played the guitar a bit less than I remember. His songs have always struck a chord (ha-ha, a little guitar humor) with me, but I was completely unprepared and surprised by the tears. For many of his songs, I stood, rocking back and forth, singing every word (that’s a switch in my most recent concert ventures, usually it’s me who doesn’t know many lyrics) with my buddy Neil. For others, I cried through the whole set, song after song. Neil will never realize the impact he’s had on this little Iowa girl’s life for the last half century. But I do. Thanks so much for all the great music Neil. I remain your number 1 fan. Forever in Blue Jeans…
Forever in Blue Jeans… Neil Diamond
Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me,
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans.
Honey’s sweet, but it ain’t nothin next to baby’s treat
And if you pardon me, I’d like to say, we’ll do ok
Forever in blue jeans…
|Special concert night with Ariana, 2017…|