Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond - Hollywood Star on Walk of Fame
August 21 was fast approaching and I hadn’t a thought as to what to get Mary for her birthday…until she saw that Neil Diamond was coming to the Honda Center in Anaheim after being in nearby Hollywood getting his Star on the Walk of Fame and mentioned that she might like to see him.  We had seen him twice before, the first more than thirty years ago, when he was doing a summer tour at huge venues, including the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and the last, to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary at the Hollywood Bowl.  Good idea, Mary! 

Turned out that getting tickets was a bit of a problem.

We usually try to go to New York the week after Thanksgiving and have used the American Express Platinum Concierge service to get theater tickets to what are often sold-out performances, but all of their allotted tickets to this concert were gone.  They did offer an alternative, a VIPpackage offered by another company.  For a flat price one would get favorable seating, a special “goodie bag”, and ushered down the red carpet.

One also got some interesting seat companions.

The concert could not have been better. Neil shared the microphone on only one song, a duet of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with one of his backup singers.  In the 1977 show we saw at The Greek he shared the stage on “Song Sung Blue” with Helen Reddy and The Fonz, Henry Winkler.  He is effortlessly able to fill an entire program with solos from the seventy-three singles he has written in a fifty year career.

The featured song of the evening and his concluding number before encores was “Sweet Caroline”, which has become a signature song, evoking from everyone the “Oh, oh, oh…life has never been so good ...so good…so good” chorus. But for me, and it turns out to be a reflection of my softer side, since it is rumored that sixty year-old women openly weep when he sings it, the favored song is “Play Me”.  The simple lyrics, “You are the sun/ I am the moon/ you are the words/ I am the tune/ Play Me” haunt me as I write this some three weeks after the concert.

Other sections of the lyrics, especially, “Songs she sang to me/songs she brang to me” have caused both negative and some positive comments, the latter from Dave Barry, who applauded the courage to rhyme rather than be grammatically correct.

Neil and Katie
Possibly because he is still a relatively recent groom, to his third wife, longtime manager and thirty year junior, Katie McNeil, Neil seemed to relish the attention he gathered from those in the seven rows in front of us.  For a period of several minutes he openly flirted and danced, if you can call it dancing when one partner is standing at eye level to the other, with the crowd, establishing a rapport that subsequently turned the crowd in front of our eighth-row seats, standing, and shouting, screaming and singing in what I would describe as a geriatric mosh-pit.

Mary was most impressed by those few minutes of quiet when she could talk to our neighbors, an eclectic group from all over the world, who seem to follow the concerts as if they were the equivalent to Grateful Dead Deadheads, sans dope, abandoning family, friends, and occupations for a life on the road.  One lady brought two seven-year olds; another was with a companion, having travelled from Germany to see her 60th Neil Diamond concert.  Since the cost of our seats approached $300 before parking, I worried less about the Euro crisis.

The fact that I overheard Mary on several occasions telling about the evening makes me think I made a hit with my present and it was one of those gifts that I could truly share.  Now, if I could only get those songs out of my head: “Touching hands/ touching you/ touching me…”

In my next Post I’m going to tell you a bit about what has happened to Tupperware Parties.  Please come visit.

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