Ain’t no big surprise…

May 13, 2020 | Nestor Aparicio

If you have followed the story of my life and the solitary man, it ain’t no big surprise that Neil Diamond came into my life way before any of the rest of this rock and roll stuff.
 
Even before Kiss!
 
Can you hear it, babe?
 
From another time, another place: my first-ever record purchases at the brand new Eastpoint Kmart in 1974 were a trio of 45s that included The Beatles “Got To Get You Into My Life,” (and spooky ass “Helter Skelter” on the B-side), The Starland Vocal Band “Afternoon Delight” and “If You Know What I Mean” by Neil Diamond.
 
So, the 14-year old version of my #MusicalNes had plenty of appreciation for Neil Diamond. “Forever In Blue Jeans” was a big song in my neighborhood and at the rink. And I defy you to watch “The Jazz Singer” and not think it’s a great movie! Our parents all loved it and in the aftermath of Elvis dying in 1976, we needed a new sequined hero!
 
(And I was pretty close to latching onto Kenny Rogers there for a while…still am, now that we’ve lost him!)
 
I still love both of the “Hot August Night” live records and the primal, evening growl of Diamond on a stage, but this collection of studio greatest hits of the middle period of one of the most iconic singer/songwriters in American history is unforgettable.
 
These are just great songs.
 
“September Morn” is as fine of a song as has ever been written.
 
I bought this on CD the morning after seeing Diamond with the incomparable Phil Jackman at the Capital Centre one hot summer night in July 1989 as an #AlmostFamous music critic. In my review, I think I referenced the aerobic workout for the “over 40” types.
 
Now, yesterday is gone and all I want is a smile.
 
But I knew almost all of these songs long before I bought the compilation. And then the $17.99 new CDs became $9.99 used, so…
 
“Money talks but it don’t sing and dance it don’t walk…”
 
I shook Neil Diamond’s hand one summer night at the Capital Centre during the Vietnam veterans event “Welcome Home” in 1987 – and he signed a really cool autograph in a gold pen. But I never got to interview him and he had such great stories because he wrote so many incredible songs – going back to the 1960s and The Monkees.
 
This album had Streisand and crooning ballads and the bombast of “Coming to America,” freedom’s light burning waaaaaa-hhhhrrrmmmmm.
 
And the radio played like a carnival tune! Here’s to the songs we used to sing!
 
A beautiful noise, indeed!
 
And the best part?
 
“Sweet Caroline” isn’t on this one! Because we don’t really need to hear that one again, do we?
 
Plus – as we all know – “hands touching hands” is inside six feet.