Hot April Night

The guy's still got it.

The guy’s still got it.

Early on during his concert Saturday night in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Neil Diamond asked how many people had gotten their tickets as Christmas presents. Half the 16,000 or so folks there cheered. I hollered out “anniversary, Neil!” The wait from October was worth it. My dear wife Karen can now cross seeing this American pop rock legend off her bucket list.

A special present for my dear wife Karen.

A special present for my dear wife Karen. Her mother’s name was Caroline.

The man still has it. His voice may had started off a bit craggy. At 74, he’s allowed. But once he moved through that long line of hits, filling two hours and a couple spare minutes with the songs of our life, Neil Diamond sounded good. More importantly, he looked fit, fresh and as happy to be there as all the people cheering and calling out his name.

My favorite of the night was “Holly Holy.” Diamond delivered that ode was such passion, clear as a bell and filled with tension and energy, that I raised my hands to the sky, testifying my witness to something magical in that moment.

Karen was particular to “Play Me,” as we held hands, and I looped my arm around her waist for that endearing love song for the ages.

There was so much to like. His jokes about the collision of Passover and Easter in our lives were funny and endearing. His lead-in and family films of growing up and song of life accompanied by that footage of dear Brooklyn on the fabulous Diamond video screen was memorable.

A sparking night.

A sparking night.

The personality, the voice … and, oh, yeah, there was that famous sing-along, too.

Diamond introduced his band with “Cherry, Cherry,” and started his encore with “Cracking Rosie. And then it came. The moment all had been waiting for, a big cheer at the first recognition. “Sweet Caroline,” now an American tradition reborn for all to sing.

Here’s a treat, even though they announced “no recording.” When I saw oodles of folks doing it all concert long, the iPhone 6 practically switched to video mode itself at the first note of “Sweet Caroline,” and stayed on it through “America.”

Are you a fan of Neil Diamond’s music, and why or why not? Do you sing along to songs at concerts or at bars, and why or why not? What’s you favorite Neil Diamond song, and why?

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59 thoughts on “Hot April Night

  1. I do like Neil Diamond! I was partial to Cracklin Rose or Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. No idea why, maybe they were the first songs of his I remember learning.

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  2. Just in time for baseball season, Mark … “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning at Fenway. I’m ready. And his “Dry Your Eyes” in the Band’s “The Last Waltz” documentary is a classic. Sounds like you and Karen had a blast!

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  3. My favorite Diamond song is ‘Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.’ One can almost feel the heat – the heat of a dry dusty night in some half-forgotten little southern town, and the passion stirred up by this traveling evanglist. A story in song, very evocative.

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  4. So glad you enjoyed the concert Mark. Love the vid of Sweet Caroline!

    When the coolest grade 5 teacher ever left suddenly and I came to school to find a new teacher – heart broken and finished, I was told that said fave teacher left a gift in each of our desks. Mine was a Neil Diamond album, and in my teacher’s handwriting on the cover it read: Girl you’ll be a woman soon…followed by encouragement of my gifts and how I will use them in my life… โค
    I can believe Diamond is 72!
    Diana xo

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  5. I remember being fascinated with “America” when I’d hear it on the radio as a very young squirrel (Yes, I’m showing my age… or maybe lack of it!) I didn’t even know who sang the song, I just liked it. All these years later, I’d probably say it’s still my favorite Neil Diamond song…

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  6. I’ve always been a fan of Neil’s. Ever since Cherry Cherry. Solitary Man is another favorite of mine. And, of course, there’s nothing like Sweet Carolina in the 8th inning at Fenway Park.

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  7. “Holly Holy” is not on my “best of,” so I’m YouTubing it right now. The interweb says Neil is known in some circles as “The Jewish Elvis.” Didja know that? And get this, as far as BoFN: Neil Diamond is his real name (which you know), but he considered using stage names Eice Cherry and Noah Kaminsky. He explained during a Reddit AMA: “Although Neil Diamond may sound cool now, when I was about to put my first record out, it was just my name and pretty boring. My first name – Neil – was the one the kids around the street made fun of, because there was hardly anybody around who had it, so I was anxious to get rid of that name on my first record, but chickened out for personal reasons.”

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  8. Love Neil Diamond. i heard him live in concert once and he was amazing. Your iphone did a good job recording Sweet Caroline Mark. Sounds like you and Karen had a great time. It is a wonderful way to spend a holiday weekend. i am so pleased for you and Karen. Happy Easter my friend.

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  9. OH I love Neil Diamond! Love! Glad you got to go — thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚
    I always sing, kinda everywhere. Well, not at the dinner table, cause Mama said, but sometimes in restaurants, before the food comes ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  10. a couple of corrections to your article, mark. first, neil is now 74, not 72. unbelievable his voice is still so “on;” and “cherry cherry” was when he introduced his fabulous band, many of whom have been with him for 30 odd years. his encore began with “cracklin’ rosie,” which was his first #1 hit.

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  11. My all to.e favourite songs are…story of my life, I’ve been this way before and hell yeah…..
    I have been lucky enough to meet him face to face and seen him on concert well over 50 times…May he go on a bit longer …God bless you Neil…….Thank the Lord for the Neil Time!!

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    • It’s fantastic that you’ve met Neil, and seen him more than 50 times, Paul. Thank the Lord for the Neil Time is a great saying you came up with, and thanks for sharing it here!

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  12. Great write up, Mark. I got my tix as a gift and he was on my bucket list as well. It was a loooong wait, but so worth it. I saw him in Toronto on Thursday night (apr 2) and I’m still coming down off the high. My favourite from the eve was probably America. I had chills too, and it was nice that at “my country ’tis thee” the Canadian Flag was in the diamond. I too taped it,. But ruined it with my own screams!! LOL. And yes, I always sing along–no choice, it comes naturally. I often wonder how people refrain from doing so.

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    • I’m glad you got your bucket checked off, Penny! Somehow my singing didn’t ruin my video! I was worried about that. Neil was great to put the Canadian flag up there in the Diamond in Toronto. Perfect.

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  13. Love Neil! I have seen him a few times and his voice has never failed me.
    I loved Karen’s shirt! I bet she loves it too.
    I have been offline but am back. Went on a journey with my sweet, sweet man and am starting to post about it.

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