It’s a rare thing when you’re actually so excited you could throw up, literally, so stoked you could puke, but that’s where I find myself today, because tomorrow… Well tomorrow I am going to see Neil Diamond at the Greek Theater for the Anniversary of 1972’s Hot Summer Nights. Now we all know how much I love the Hollywood Bowl and The Greek Theater, as institutions that make me proud to be an Angelino, like Dodger Stadium, Malibu, and The Forum. However, only a select few who ride in my car or get the pleasure of rolling to karaoke with me are aware of my obsessive love affair with Mr. Neil Diamond.

I almost feel like the reason I was relocated to America when I was three years old, was to be blessed with the God-given right to become a Neil Diamond fan. It happened quite naturally in the backseat of a car, no not that kind of backseat. rather it happened in the back cargo hold of one of my friend’s mom’s station wagons. There were two kinds of moms in Southern California in the late ’70’s, Manilow moms and Diamond moms. Immediately I had a distaste for the Manilow moms, and probably ended some second grade friendships to avoid being trapped in a Barry Manilow wagon. Conversely, I made an effort to get stuck in traffic in a Neil Diamond wagon. Inevitably my friend would ruin it demanding the radio, but her mom and I knew better, and we’d both fight for more Diamond.

Then when I was nine years old, my life changed at the Hollywood Cinerama Dome when I saw ET The Extraterrestrial on opening weekend. I was so hysterical that I was choking and I can recall being heimliched during the scene when Elliot sees the flower start to grow again, and realizes ET will live. Neil was there, Neil wrote “Heartlight“. He didn’t write some shitty song about aliens. Neil wrote about letting your love guide you. What a guy. Love never goes out of style and neither does Neil Fucking Diamond!

It would be a while before I heard Neil, as the ’80’s took over and I became obsessed with Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and Culture Club. Fortunately, TV was there to remind me of my musical heartlight, and I remember laying in bed watching “Lady Sings the Blues” followed by “The Jazz Singer”– again I cried until I resembled a bubble eyed goldfish.

Turning sixteen in LA is about the biggest milestone ever. I don’t think my wedding day was as important as the day I got my license, which is imminently true, as I got divorced, and I still drive, but I digress. When I got my license my dad flew over from London to shoot a wedding in exchange for a car for me. It was a white convertible VW Rabbit. Thus began my lifelong love affair with Volkswagens and also my first tattoo, first shaved head, and a general malaise for blonds in convertibles, I was different dammit. Anyway, it was in this lovely car from my pops that I got my first driving ticket, which was for driving with my hands off the wheel. As it was a convertible, it was easy enough for the cop to see that I was waving my hands back and forth in the air like I was conducting a symphony. When he pulled me over he asked what I was doing, and I replied, “I was listening to “Sweet Caroline”, you know the ‘Hands touching hands, reaching out, touching me touching you’ part?” In typical humorless cop style, he was not amused and gave me my first ticket.

Then I moved to New York to attend NYU film school in ’91, I was lucky to arrive in New York for what were to be, in my opinion, the best years hip-hop has ever had. I showed up at more clubs than I did classes, as what was happening in the clubs was way more cinematic. However, once again I was led back to Neil by the movies. This time by Quentin Tarantino, who used a cover of Neil’s song “Girl You’ll Be  A Woman” in his masterpiece “Pulp Fiction.” At twenty-one years old, the song seemed to speak to me in a new way. I remembered it from my youth, but only then did I catch on to what an incredible lyricist Neil Diamond is.

I dropped out of school, but stayed in New York and that’s where I began my career as a karaoke star. “Sweet Caroline”, having been so impactful on me in my youth, was one of my go-to’s, but it was Neil’s bittersweet ballad, “I Am… I Said” that became my favorite song to sing. It testified to my loyal homesickness for LA, which had been surpassed by my passionate love for New York City. There is no feeling you ever had that Neil hasn’t made a song about. It’s as simple as that.

Today, at the place I’m at in my life my favorite songs have grown to include the nostalgia of “Brooklyn Roads” and the lyrics from “Forever in Blue Jeans” can make me cry although it’s an uptempo jam that I do a wicked two step to in my living room. Tomorrow night I get to take these tickets off my fridge and sing along, “Baby tonight, Baby tonight by the fire all alone  you and I. Nothing around but the sound of my heart and your sighs. Money talks, but it can’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk.”

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