noyoucmon's current selection is:
Cracklin' Rosie
by Neil Diamond
Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Neil Diamond is certainly ubiquitous in American song and pop culture; I feel like I can't leave the house without hearing one of his songs, and surely any U.S. dweller reading this post knows how "Sweet Caroline" has run roughshod across our nation's fabric, the song of choice at countless drunken gatherings and sports events as well as probably a hundred other applications. Diamond has never been FULLY cool in the sense of a rocker, like rock fans want their idols to be, but nor can anyone with a fondness for songcraft and melody deny his greatness. (And The Band did deem him cool enough to join The Last Waltz.) It feels weird to be a Diamond fan when you're accustomed to the endless trainspotting, categorizing, and classifying of rock and roll. Most big-time Diamond supporters just like him and are done with it. Of course for others of us it's never been that simple.

I don't know how I ever even heard "Love on the Rocks" in 1980, when Diamond rode the silver screen in Richard Fleischer's remake of Al Jolson's 1927 classic The Jazz Singer, but somehow I did; I was still a little kid in 1980 and I thought nothing had ever been funnier than hearing Diamond growl the title. It made me roll in the aisles so hard that my brother went to a Neil Diamond tribute show (bar bands were ALREADY doing this in 1980) and had "Neil" sign a handbill to me, being sure to have him add "LOVE ON THE ROCKS." This became an instant treasure of mine and I hope it lurks in the suitcase of musical ephemera that I've still not sorted through entirely.

Diamond didn't make it into my record collection until fairly recently. I'd spent years thinking to myself I should just concede and buy The Essential Neil Diamond, but I never did. A memorabilia shop went out of business in Chicago and sold their sad record stock for a quarter apiece. A clean copy of Taproot Manuscript was on offer. My brother had owned a copy, the only Diamond album to ever be in our house, though I never heard him play it. I enjoyed my 25-cent copy of Taproot and not long after he announced a concert tour. Half a dozen people I knew were going and I at last minute bought a nosebleed seat. By 2017 he was 76 and hadn't yet announced his Parkinson's diagnosis. I thought he was a little stiff, but he sold the songs all the way to the top of the arena, and I somehow knew most of the songs. I managed to sneak down pretty close and watch him from just a few rows back. My girlfriend (who didn't attend with me) gave her parents Christmas tickets to another stop on the tour and before he got to their town Diamond had announced his immediate retirement.

This year I've been spending time with the 3-disc 50th Anniversary Collection; I bought a copy at the show despite my friend's howls that it was cheaper on Amazon. I was there, in the mood, and had spent far too long wanting the songs to care, and this brings us to the current date when I've had Cracklin' Rosie--originally from Taproot Manuscript, by the way--stuck in my head for over a week. Bringing this full circle to the vagaries of trainspotting and collecting, just this week a SIX-disc expanded version of 50th Anniversary Collection was announced. This kind of cynical ploy gets more and more typical: sell one version of an album, get fans to buy it, and then announce an expanded version of the same thing, sometimes three or four months after the initial release. It's offensive to me but somewhere deep down I figure this new version will be on my shelf before very long.
1970 - Uni
Posted: 19th October 2018
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