Monday, September 25, 2006
Old Pictures of Happier Times
The other day when I was riding around in my car, Snowflake (he was named such because I bought him in a snowstorm), I heard Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." It's not pretty to see a grown woman cry is all I have to say. I've always loved Neil, a Jewish guy from Brooklyn with the artistic hutzpah to assume the persona of a southern Pentecostal preacher, and produce one of the best pop songs ever. Neil serves as a great emotional barometer for me --if I am depressed, his music plunges me into the depths of despair, if I happy, it makes me feel like dancing around the house, except for "Love On the Rocks" which is always sad. You might be emotionally dead if this one doesn't conjure up visions of drinking scotch by yourself and tearing up your old pictures of happier times. "Solitary Man", a bitter ode to the pleasures of aloneness, conversely, always cheers me up. There's nothing like an angry Neil as a great antidote to some of his less thrilling attempts, like his E.T. -inspired suckfest ballad "Turn On Your Heartlight." In the great movie (thanks for the suggestion, Robin!) What About Bob?, Bob claims that there are two types of people in the world -- Those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't. Bob says in a bitter tone, My ex-wife liked Neil Diamond. I suppose he has a point.
My dad looked a lot like Mr. Diamond during the thinner phases of his life, a resemblance that was oft-remarked upon during Neil's more successful years, the decades when his soundtracks to Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Jazz Singer made more money than the movies themselves. Some of my massive, unhealthy, Electra-ridden attachment to my daddy transferred to old Neil, who became my top pick for music to perform baton-twirling routines to ("Coming To America"), jazz dances ("Forever in Blue Jeans"), and a final ill-fated dance team favorite("Sweet Caroline"). I couldn't twirl without hitting myself in the head repeatedly (good practice for writing, now that I think about it), couldn't dance worth a shit. But Neil forgave everything. He put one hand out for me, one hand to the Lord, because according to Brother Love, that's why we have two hands. One for the heavens, one for the earth. And if that doesn't work, we always have the scotch. Neil, while claiming to be a solitary man, was also a pragmatic one.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"My voice is unadorned. I don't try for perfection. I try to be honest and truthful and soulful with the voice I have. If I make mistakes in notes, or there are cracks in notes, I don't fix them. That's the way it is." Neil Diamond
3 parts gin
1 part Cointreau
Serve over ice.
Benedictions and Maledictions
May you forget what you know
and try again. Do you like feeling
your heart in your throat? I can
arrange that. You want to sit
up nights waiting for your invisible
stigmata to manifest, your love
to come down, a foreign ship
in a familiar port? So much is not
a problem. Trains come and go
in the night, or at least that is when
I hear them and make you notice.