Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Drinking With a Diamond
Well. If you happened, for whatever reason, to be downtown Chicago on Friday morning and spotted an astonishingly beautiful woman in a weddin' dress followed by a rather shlumpy, shaggy headed fella looking extremely uncomfortable in a suit, heading toward the county court house, that'd probably have been me and the Missus. Yup, Missus. The Mountain done done it. Shackles and chains, 'n' all dat (and sorry to my legions of adoring female fans). Don't worry if you weren't invited, we didn't even bring the cat. It was a beautiful three minute ceremony, followed by an excruciating train trip to a destination to be referred to in a future post.
I really don't understand the hatred that folks have for Neil Diamond. I mean, I get that the man can venture into cheese at the drop of a hat, and that damn song about coming to America is a bit much, but every artist has their low point (even Tom Waits got talked into duetting with Bette Midler...would've liked to have heard that conversation). Ummm...ok, there's that Jonathan Livingston Seagull thing too. Alright, so Diamond asks for some of the scorn he gets. And then there's the contingent who loooove Neil, in an ironic hipster fashion. Neil Diamond on a trucker hat or something. Ah, the kids just keepin' it real.
But see, I'm a fan cuz the man is one of the best damn songwriters you've ever heard. Really. It's all well and good and modern to write wordy, tuneless manifestos on the plight of the downtrodden, or Raymond Carveresque slices of daily tedium, but does it make you want to sing along? Can the magazine cover band of choice make an entire bar full of cliques and clans stop what they're doing and sing along? No? Neil Diamond can. I've seen it, and not just in the movies. I don't even have to scrawl out the obscenely large list of songs by Diamond that have become part of our musical backdrop. You already know all the songs. Whether you're snickering or lustily agreeing. And the man, live, puts on a fucking show. You get what you pay for, even if the bloomers thrown up onstage are a little larger than they were 30 years ago. Sweat and sweet sweet Caroline.
So what the hell does Neil Diamond have to do with what we normally listen to here at the 'Mountain. Twofold: an infrequent series of posts about musicians that you may or may not be surprised that we like, and a farewell to one of my favorite songs. Maybe one of Diamond's most haunting tunes. Johnny Cash, who knows a bit about songwriting was fond of the song, too, though his take carries a different level of sadness.
Neil Diamond: Solitary Man (mp3)
Johnny Cash: Solitary Man (mp3)
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