Recently I’ve embarked on a campaign to go see concerts of some of my heroes that are getting — um — “long in the tooth.” I never want to say — “oh, I never got to see [enter name here] perform in concert before they died/retired/entered rehab/prison”. Sometimes the performers make me feel old; but by contrast the audience usually makes me feel like a spry puppy. (Mostly thinking “thank god I don’t look like THAT.”)
So, thanks to a kickass Groupon deal, Friday night we pulled out the sequin shirts and went to see Neil Diamond. It was 2 straight hours of non-stop hits and sing-a-longs. Neil Diamond is 71 years old, but absolutely commanded the entire arena. Yes, arena. Not some mamby-pamby cultural or performing arts center, but a real arena tour. It was awesome. In the midst of all of this, I had a few revelations:
1. I don’t care how old you are – when you strap on a guitar, you are a badass. Seriously. (AND to boot, he is posing with one of the guitars I really want on the cover of this week’s Parade Magazine. Anyone got a spare $3000 for that Gibson Hummingbird?)
2. Great songs are great songs. I seriously had forgotten just how many great songs this guy has written. I would say that Sir Paul McCartney is maybe the only person who has actually written more great songs. Maybe. (And I welcome your debate on this one). And a great song can be covered by anybody, and arranged more than one way. I’m a Believer — which was written by Neil Diamond, was the #1 song of 1966 covered by the Monkees, and saw a 2nd life in Shrek. Neil sang it as a ballad, and it worked. Brilliant.
3. If you want your song to become an anthem, leave room for the audience to sing. For example – sing with me – “Sweet Car-o-line……….” You just did the Bah, Bah, Bah part in your head, didn’t you?? You know you did. See. Same can be said for Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville [Salt, Salt, Salt!]
4. Marrying someone 30 years younger – or older – than you really just doesn’t matter anymore. I used to think it was about creepy old guys and gold-digging cheap floozies. Or skeevy, mid-life crisis middle school teachers and school boy crushes. At the Memorial Day BBQ last week I realized that the age difference between my 2 closest friends was 40+ years, and it didn’t matter. Shit, you certainly couldn’t tell by maturity level (ahem, Virgin Dick). So Neil married his much younger tour manager. I’m sure they have tons in common, and know how to enjoy working and living as a couple. Good for him.
It was a great concert. I hope he lives and tours another 10 years so I can take the kids one day. And I think I’m going to find the Jazz Singer on Netflix at some point soon.