As I was stumbling through various blogs on this fine Wednesday evening...I found one that is devoted entirely to proving that Barry Manilow is better than Neil Diamond. The nice thing about a blog is that you can write about whatever you want...even if it is COMPLETELY untrue...as is the case with said mentioned blog. Hello...Neil is the 3rd highest selling adult contemporary artists of all times!!!!! Where is Barry you might ask...not in the #1 or #2 stop I can assure you. Why...because Barry is good but Neil is GRRRReat!!!!I could spend hours blogging about the greatest of Neil Diamond...but I won't for two reasons. The first is that I am exhausted from staying up last night screaming at Blogger. The second is because it is not necessary. I will steal a line from one of my all-time favorite movies...What About Bob? to elaborate further on this. You see..."there are two types of people in the world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." Truer words were never spoken.
Before I go into my list of the Essential Neil songs...I must touch on Neil's role in Saving Silverman. Saving Silverman was a pretty good movie...but having Neil in it is what pushed it from 'nice to watch once' to 'must watch it every time it is on Comedy Central' movie. I love the fact that the main characters have a Neil Diamond cover band. (If I could find one...I would join.) When Neil actually appeared in the movie...I remember squealing in delight because let's face it...you can never get enough of Neil. (DISCLAIMER....I do not think that Neil is attractive...but his talent gives him quite the sexual appeal.) It is worth watching the movie just to see Neil.
Moving on...let's talk songs! There are dozens of Neil songs that should be on everyone's iPod...but in case you are just getting started...here is my essential list of Neil that you should never leave home without.
Cherry Cherry - Just try not to sing along with this one. It is too catchy...instinctively you will start to sing and maybe do a little dance. Yes the song is about sex...but it is tasteful. The line: "Won't need bright lights no no we won't, gonna make our own lighting." Great tune.
America - So you can't be an American and not love this song!!! This song is my favorite of all patriotic songs because it is full of hope. It is another song that is easy to sing to...actually it is more like shout to. This is not a song that you can sing under your breath...it deserves to be sung from the soul. Warning...as you sing...you will feel compelled to do that embarrassing fist pump in the air thing that should only be done by bad ass guys after slaying the dragon or some other manly act. America is the best song in concert because everyone else is shouting the lyrics and doing that damn fist pump thing so you are not alone in your geekiness. It is a feel good tune and that is never a bad thing. The line: "Every time that flags unfurled they're coming to America."
Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon - This song is on the list because it has a powerful opening. It is not your usual happy go lucky Neil tune. The opening lines of this song let you know up front that the song is love song while at the same time it lets you hear the yearning in his voice. You can hear him pleading to the girl that might slip away. It is impossible to sit and listen to the song and not be wishing that the "girl" will take Neil's hand as asked. The Urge Overkill remake of this song for Pulp Fiction was decent...but it lacked the passion that Neil conveyed in his version. For the line it only seems fair to go with the opening of the song: "I love you so much I can't count all the ways I'd die for you girl and all they can say is "He's not your kind".
Hello Again - This is a more recent favorite of mine, as the other songs on the list have been favorites since I was about seven and had my first Neil Experience (a girl does not forget something like that). I think that the fact that I can relate to this song is the reason that I love it. It is simple and openly-honest which makes it vulnerable and I understand that. The line: "And to feel this way when I hear you say Hello."
Sweet Caroline - (You didn't really think that this one wouldn't be on this blog did you?) So this is the money song. It is hard to know where to start because there are so many points to discuss about this song. Let's start with the obvious...it is Worlds Greatest Sing-a-long Song! Sure...it sucks that Boston stole it for the Red Sox considering that Neil has been a lifelong Yankee fan...but the Boston point will probably be null and void in a few days so let's move on. (I am looking forward to singing it without feeling like a traitor.) There are dozens of sporting teams who get their crowds engaged by playing this tune...because everyone knows it and loves to sing it. It is an optimistic love song...which is also a good thing. Next...it sold over a million singles...which is no small feat. It is also a sure thing when it comes to karaoke. You cannot go wrong singing this song because even if you don't know it...everyone else does and will join you and carry you to the end. Finally...the little known fact that matters only to me is that it was a vital key to my success in quitting smoking (19 months and counting damn it!). A good friend told me that this song helped him quit and to give it a try. Whenever I felt like I needed a cigarette, I picked up the phone and called him and we sang the whole damn thing. I felt better and no longer felt the need to smoke. Sounds crazy...but it worked. I even burned a CD of nothing but this song and listened to it the entire way home to fight the urge to smoke in the car. The line: "And when I hurt, hurting runs off my shoulders, how could I hurt when I'm with you?" How can you hurt when listening to Neil...honestly?
So let's recap...Neil can sing, write, act, love, motivate sports teams, and help people quit smoking. If he ran for President...imagine what he could accomplish.
Neil verses Barry...no contest. Neil would whoop his ass any day of the week.