She May be Kind of Tone Deaf, but She Knows Her Poetry
A blogger attends a "Denny Diamond and the Family Jewels" concert at the Skokie Theatre, thank you very much.
You know you are getting old when you hear a few bars of a song from the 60’s and 70’s and can name that tune. And that’s what happened to me at the “Denny and the Diamonds Family Jewels” concert on Saturday June 16, 2012 at the Skokie Theatre. At approximately eighteen hundred o’clock, I learned that that I am not the teenager or even the twenty something year old I thought I was. I am x number of years older. And it isn’t the calcium supplements, the glasses or even the age spots that nailed that point home. It was partially that after a few bars I could name that tune like a “Jeopardy” champion.
I am not faulting Denny or either diamond of a son for this cosmic revelation. And I’m certainly not blaming the universe or my parents. I came into being when I did and grew from a little seedling into this. Perhaps I can blame Cosmo magazine and maybe Marie Claire or maybe those Nivea and Oil of Olay ads, or the manufacturers of Botox, Project Runway or a plastic surgeon or two. Though the mirror has been showing more wrinkles, cellulite and age spots lately, and I’m not happy.
As for Denny Diamond and the other family jewels, they did a fine, admirable job with sons Lucas on guitar and Spencer, who played the bass guitar with one hand and drums with the other. Their a cappellas, adagios and allegros were all fine, and I was just happy that nothing blew up or was set on fire during the twenty song set where they mainly played Neil Diamond classics like “Holly Holy,” “Kentucky Woman” and “Love on the Rocks,” which couples request at their wedding oddly enough (!). (I know that I’ll want the band to play “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain” at mine or “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” but that’s for another chapter.) They also played “Coming to America,” which, as a child, grandchild and great-grandchild of immigrants always fills me with pride and brings tears to my eyes.
Once I got over the age shock and the fact that my voice would get an eye roll from Simon Cowell at best after they asked everyone to sing along, I was able to look at the abundance of Neil Diamond’s work and the pure poetry of his songs. Not only did he write “the Folsom Prison Blues” made famous by Johnny Cash or “I’m a Believer” made famous by the Monkees, but some of his songs like “Brooklyn Road” read like a soul-searing poem.
If I close my eyes
I can almost hear my mother
Sayin’ “Neil, go find your brother
Daddy’s home and it’s supper time. Hurry on.”
And I see two boys
Racin’ up two flights of staircase
Squirmin’ into Papa’s embrace
And his whiskers warm on their face
Where’s it gone? Oh, where’s it gone?
Two floors above the butcher
First door on the right
Life filled to the brim, as I stood by my window
And looked out on those Brooklyn roads
I can still recall
The smells of cookin’ in the hallways
Rubbers drying in the doorways
And report cards I was always afraid to show
Mama’d come to school
And as I’d sit there softly cryin’
Teacher’d say, “He’s just not tryin’”
He’s got a good head if he’s apply it
But you know yourself; it’s always somewhere else…
Brooklyn roads, Brooklyn roads.
And it doesn’t get much better than that.