Tuesday, December 9, 2008

121. Neil Diamond - Greatest Hits: 1966–1992

I love Neil Diamond. I love him in the same way I like Abba and Air Supply and Death Cab for Cutie. Sometimes four chords or shouting at the devil is not what the day calls for.

I'm a sucker for nostalgia. And nothing makes me more nostalgic than music.

Every person is different when it comes to evoking powerful memories. For some it is pictures, or sounds, or smells. Perhaps it is a combination of all those things. We all have something that triggers the snapshots that exist in our head. Moments in time that are embedded in our mind, sometimes forgotten and then dredged up again by a flash of of memory that triggers our senses. A whole scenario can come flooding back as if it happened only yesterday. Your senses transport you to wherever the memory came from and you ride it again, whether you want to or not.

There is nothing like music to bring back specific moments in my life. One note from a certain song and I am in a time machine. And last night was one hell of a ride in that machine.

Cherry Cherry is autumn; leaves on the ground, some time around Halloween, crisp air and definitely one of my earliest memories. We had this huge stereo in the living room that was more like a piece of furniture than something to play music on. I remember this song on the radio, my mother singing, my aunt dancing.

Cracklin Rosie is an end of summer song, driving home from upstate in my aunt's red Dodge Dart, this on the radio and me and my cousins pretending we knew all the words.

Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show is a party in the backyard, the grownups with fancy drinks and cigarettes talking about things children shouldn't hear, the kids on the grass chasing fireflies while the hallelujah chorus drifts through the summer night.

The whole album is like that, one memory after another, me getting lost in time and then getting back to the present. Todd and I went to see him this past August and it was really one of the best shows I've ever seen (Todd is an unabashed Neil Diamond fan). Just enjoying being there with Todd and that carefree happiness of my youth catching up with the happiness of right here and now. It was one of those rare times when your face muscles hurt from smiling and everything just feels right and good.

There are definitely songs here I don't like. You'll never hear Sweet Caroline or Song Sung Blue coming from this house, the latter because I had to sing it in sixth grade chorus and when you are forced to sing a song five days a week, five times a day until you get it perfect (and we never really got it perfect) it ends to leave a residue like vomit in your brain. It's the same reason I hate Sloop John B. by the Beach Boys.

But for every Sweet Caroline, there's a Cherry Cherry or Cracklin' Rosie to bring sunshine and a smile to any day.

Favorite song: Cherry, Cherry
Video for Cherry, Cherry, because I want to spread that sunshine.


Solonor Rasreth said...

I don't like Neil Diamond at all, with the exception of "Solitary Man" and the stuff the Monkees did.

Solonor Rasreth said...

Oh, yeah, and that whole "Sweet Caroline" thing is another one of those annoying things I hate about new Red Sox fans. Bleh.

Ken said...

I remember the Hot August night album. My parents played that a lot.

This girl and I used to sit in her living room and sing along to a few songs, and "Song Sung Blue" was one of them. Have no idea what happened to her which is sad because she's the type if girl I imagine would have been good for me. Of course back then at that age I was completely clueless about that.