No. 229 | March 24, 2011
Our theme this week
Performers inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011
My five stages of Neil Diamond:
One) my preteen years: best known as the guy who wrote songs for the Monkees (“I’m a Believer,” et al.), which meant something, and his solo stuff was catchy and very popular, in a good way (“Cherry, Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline”).
Two) my teen years: it was not hip to be a Neil Diamond fan in high school (though I would never deny my fondness for “Solitary Man,” a great song to defend and earn some contrarian cred).
Three) the looking-back years: all in all, Diamond seemed better that I remembered at the time, someone who I could allow myself to like, even if it was in a campy, nostalgic sort of way.
Four) the not-so-young-anymore years: recognition that Diamond was, without qualification, a major pop writer and singer.
Five) the current view: not much different than Four, but surprise at the number of people of a certain age, many of them women, who regard Diamond as the pinnacle of pop, but unlike me, never went through stages Two or Three.
Diamond may have had a whole new career if The Jazz Singer had been a success. We’ll never know what might have been, but we’ll always have that one shining example of a cast with Diamond, Laurence Olivier, and Lucie Arnaz.
Diamond on film
Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973)*
The Last Waltz (1978)**
The Jazz Singer (1980)
Saving Silverman (2001)**
* Original score.
** As himself.
Contributed songs to soundtracks of many films, including Pulp Fiction (“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” performed by Urge Overkill).