Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Neil, baby

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2011 is official. The list includes Dr. John and Tom Waits, two artists that most people are not afraid to claim. Dr. John makes me happy, and our old dog, Jersey, was named after a Tom Waits song.

The list also includes Darlene Love and Alice Cooper. I've got no personal connection to Darlene Love, except my affection for this:

Alice terrified me when he was on the Muppet Show, but I was alright with him on the radio. My kids loved this, from the Cars and Guitars exhibit at The Henry Ford Museum:

Leon Russell will be in as a sideman, and the final artist inductee is Neil Diamond. Where do I even begin?

It is not an overstatement to say that I grew up on Neil Diamond. Hanging in our living room, we had my mom's needlework depicting Mary and the Christ Child, and a poster of Neil. I cannot find a copy of this poster online, but I recall that he was in a black vest, a flowing white shirt, mouth agape, one hand grasping the microphone, and the other iconically outstretched. He was a priest of something, I'm sure of it, and we were often in his church. "Holly, Holy" people! "Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show!""Crunchy Granola Suite!"

I know he's kitschy, I know he's over the top, I know his later music (certainly from "Heartlight" on, maybe even sooner than that) is riddled with badness. Even my mother, one of the faithful, recognizes that he no longer has what he once had. But what he once had, I loved.

C'mon. Admit it. You've rocked out to "I'm A Believer." You love it when they cut the music to "Sweet Caroline" and the whole crowd hollers, "Bahm bahm bah." You've swept through a high-end lighting store, singing along with his version of "If You Go Away", emoting at your beloved.

Alright, maybe that last one is just me.


  1. I kind of think he peaked with Beautiful Noise.

  2. I like "Beautiful Noise", but I always suspected that had a lot to do with Robbie Roberston.

  3. That could have something to do with it, but the magic wasn't there with 'Love at the Greek' I think 'Hot August Nights' is a better live album. Probably one of my top 5 favorite live albums, actually.