Today, Tuesday 23 January 2018, one day before the legend, the global superstar, Neil Diamond’s 77th birthday, we read/heard news of his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis which has, sadly – and I’m sure painfully for him and his family – brought a sudden and unexpected end to one of the big pieces in the jigsaw of what has been, and still is, a staggering, fantastic, an epic career in music – a career as a superb songwriter (benefitting many, many artists!), a great guitarist, an emotion-plundering and unearthing singer with an instantly recognisable voice, and a mesmerising stage performer.
I have seen a lot of great musicians perform live and I’ve always felt fortunate that I managed to get to see Neil Diamond in concert but, today, on learning that his touring days have been prematurely cut short, I feel all the more fortunate – and what a show it was, more a party than a concert!
Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow et al, their Brooklyn mums must have been adding more than a pinch of stardust to the chicken soup?!
I have no doubt that Neil Diamond, the consummate music man that he is, will continue to write and record beautiful music but, nevertheless, Neil has been one of music’s great stage performers since the 1960’s and it feels like the end of an era. I’d like to share a few of Neil’s great performances:
‘Sweet Caroline’ (1969), written by Neil Diamond – here we see the power of music to move and to enrapture, to lift people to a ‘spiritual’ level:
Next up, “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970), written by Neil Diamond – again, watch this crowd….they are lovin’ it!!
Now, ‘September Morn’ (1979), written by Gilbert Bécaud and Neil Diamond – this is, quite simply, a beautiful song:
Next up, what a classic – and a double talent treat, ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ (1978), music written by Neil Diamond, lyrics by the legendary Marilyn and Alan Bergman (who worked closely with another of my favourite musicians, Michel Legrand):
….jump forward to 1981 – well, to 1980 for the movie, one of my favourites, the remake of ‘The Jazz Singer’, but the song, this song, ‘Coming To America’, written by Neil Diamond, it was released in 1981 – what a song, what a performance!
…backwards in time again, to 1967, and a song well known to my generation, born in the 1960’s, as a massive 1983 hit for the band ‘UB40’ but written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond, ‘Red Red Wine’:
…and from 1971, a big, thumping, yet sweet, song, ‘I Am I Said’, written by Neil Diamond:
…and, finally, though, of course, I could continue this music and performance tribute to Neil Diamond a lot longer, great performances of two beautiful songs:
‘Pretty Amazing Grace’ (2008), written by Neil Diamond, and ‘Love On The Rocks’ (1980), written by Neil Diamond and Gilbert Bécaud, from movie, ‘The Jazz Singer’ (1980):
I, and I’m sure millions of fans around the world, thank Neil Diamond for his live performances over the decades and, of course, for the music, and we wish him a happy birthday, for tomorrow, the 24th, and all the very best for the future….