Neil Diamond @ Madison Square Garden!
It's common knowledge that my father has terrible taste in music. If you are stuck in a car while he is driving, you will likely be treated not only to an extemporaneous speech on the glory that is his Toyota Prius, but also to a few German polkas and something called the Ray Conniff Singers. I can't tell you what they are, but you would probably jump out the window at your first opportunity, and perhaps while the car was still moving. You would leave all your worldly possessions behind and just stroll on up the road, whistling to yourself and shaking your head to clear out your ears. Oh! He also likes to sing along, and conduct himself while he's singing. And couldn't find a beat if it walked right up to him, stepped on his toe, spit three times in his face, and then punched him in the nose.
But most of all he likes happy music, and he likes it loud. And Neil Diamond. "Forever in Blue Jeans." He used to play this—from the VINYL, on the HI-FI—for Kyle and me when we were little, and he would spin us around the living room, and we would clap and clap and stomp our feet and dance and dance and dance. And I can't hear that song today without thinking about him.
I'm also pretty sure he never listened to the words.
Anyway, about three-quarters of the way through the show tonight, Neil Diamond sang "Forever in Blue Jeans." And I got up on my feet and clapped and clapped, and hooted and hollered, and danced and danced and danced, and people, THERE WAS JOY ACROSS THE LAND. Maybe you could hear it. Just the faintest little ringing bell of cheer that was in fact me smiling wide and bright, and maybe wiping just a single tear away. Actually, it was a little like Nelson Muntz seeing his hero Andy Williams sing "Moon River" in Branson, Missouri, in the Simpsons episode "Bart on the Road." That is: slightly unbelievable and almost too good to be true, and not a thing words can capture with any kind of effect.
But ladies! He looked fabulous! Anniemcq, you will be glad to know that the glitter of his black dress shirt matched the glitter of my charcoal flats, and I don't have to tell you that it takes a special kind of man to pull off that kind of trick and really sell it. You've gotta believe in the glitter, baby, because otherwise you just look like an asshole. And he looked very sexy. Besides, what would Neil Diamond be without glitter? It's not Neil Denim, or Neil Leather, or Neil Khaki Dockers with a Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Button-Down Shirt. Right? Also, I could feel there was some kind of connection between us, even though I was in Row O close to the top and he never once made direct eye contact. Maybe he's shy? But I could tell he knew I was there.
He opened with "Holly Holy," which we heard from the hallway since the bus was late, and also did "Kentucky Woman," "Cherry, Cherry," "Solitary Man," "I'm a Believer," "Pretty Amazing Grace" and "Home Before Dark"—both from his latest album, cleverly titled "Home Before Dark"—"Hello Again," "Song Sung Blue," "Play Me," You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," "I Am...I Said," "America," "Sweet Caroline," and "Cracklin' Rosie." I'm missing some, but it was everything you could ask for, really, except "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," which perhaps he thought we couldn't handle, since it got pretty late and most of us are getting old.
But not so old that we couldn't still raise high the roof beams, carpenters! And clap and clap, and dance and dance and dance.