Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guess That's Why There's Chocolate and Vanilla

"Sweet Caroline...Bump, bum, bum.  Good times never seem so good..."  Aah, Neil Diamond.  Who doesn't love good soft rock?  BLECH!

If there ever was a brand of music that truly made my skin crawl, it was "soft rock."  The type of music that was piped into every elevator, grocery store and on every telephone "hold" line in the US during the '8os and '90s.  I know there are more "soft rock artists" (Is it even possible to use those words in collaboration?) than anyone would care to speculate, but Neil Diamond had forever been, and will forever be "The Crown Prince of Soft Rock!"  Now I'm sure Mr. Diamond is a great guy, but his music in particular, brings to the back of my throat a vile, burning feeling I usually only experience when I have foolishly inflicted upon myself a semi-lethal combination of undigested latte, nuclear wings, and power walking in ninety-degree heat.

When I hear a Neil Diamond song, nothing good can come of it; immediately the things that come to mind are the awkwardness of seventh grade, and Barry Manilow -- sort of a word association thing, only with really white, crooning "boy toys" in circulation-stopping polyester and their desperate cougar disciples.  I think of my best friend and I, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, singing into our hairbrushes and knowing, even at that time, we were hopelessly pathetic creatures who, in just a few short years would be going "stag" to our college senior formals.  I am compelled to remember my Dorothy Hamill haircut, zits, and those incredibly large eyeglasses that made my face look like I was wearing the latest concept designs for the Hubble Telescope.  By God's grace, my retinas never did burst into flame in direct sunlight.

Even in my adult years "the Jazz Singer" has developed a history all his own, invoking wretched mental images of drunken firefighters, some with severe flatulence disorders, raising their glasses and spitting out obscenely altered lyrics to "Song Sung Blue."  As I stood by the coffee pot in work the other day, the hair on the back of my neck began to stand up and my stomach began to churn before I realized someone had tuned into a soft rock station.  "Neil Diamond brings back some great memories for me," (or something like that) a co-worker cooed.  My face immediately twisted as if I'd chugged a bottle of ReaLemon.  "Huh?" I blurted.  "Yeah, at my other job, on Sunday mornings, the place would be quiet, except for this one guy who would play Diamond.  It was so peaceful; it would be a good day if we were listening to Diamond."

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