“I got a song been on my mind
And the tune can be sung and the words all rhyme
Deedle-ee deet deet deet deet deet deet deet dee dee”
Growing up, my Mom had a tape of Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night – Live at The Greek Theater in her car. It played almost constantly, at least as far as I can remember. As a result, I was singing along to ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’, ‘Cherry Cherry’ and ‘I am, I said’ since pre-school. Obviously then, when news of his Cape Town show reached me, tickets were booked (for Mom’s birthday, no less).
So last night (to my great delight and excitement) I had the privilege, along with about 36 000 others, to witness an amazing man and an extremely talented artist do what he has been doing for nearly 50 years.
Whether you like his music or not, it’s impossible to deny the man has an extraordinary talent, not only for performing, but for writing. His songs are not only catchy, but in the words of David Wild (contributing editor for Rolling Stone) his music has “…a deep sense of isolation and an equal desire for connection…”.
Combine this with a masterful stage presence (undoubtedly part natural ability and part experience garnered from decades of performing sell-out crowds and massive stadiums) and you have an unforgettable experience. No frills. No fuss. No lasers or light shows or smoke and mirrors. Just a man, his band and his guitar. And five decades worth of foot-tapping, hip-swaying hits. Factor in that the man is 70 years old and still able to rock a two-hour show, with encore, without missing a beat, and it’s even more incredible. And he doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down any time soon.
Of course, his music isn’t to everyone’s taste. But neither is Rammstein. Or (shock…horror…) U2. Obviously not. We’re all different, which is good. But there’s a special kind of sentiment to hearing 36 000 people go:
“SWEEEEEEEEEET CAROLIIIIIIINE…. WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!! GOOD TIMES NEVER SEEMED SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!!!!!!”
“Call the sun in the dead of the night
And the sun’s gonna rise in the sky
Touch a man who can’t walk upright
And that lame man, he’s gonna fly”