Pack up the babies, grab the old ladies….

“Hitchin’ on a twilight train
” taking only a song to sing when he wants and you better believe we say please for his happy tunes. That’s right, Neil Diamond, Class of 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

About time, right?

Now Neil is a different generation of music from what I grew up with; or he should be. But countless nights spent peeking through the bottom railing of the banister watching my parents, relatives, and their friends dance and sing to Hot August night drilled those songs into my head. I admit I found their behavior strange and the music too. As an adult, after countless nights, with friends, in various living rooms moving to music and singing the words to favorite songs at the top of my lungs, I get it.

Back to Neil, though.

When I got to college, my ability to sing every word to every Neil Diamond song one of those mortifying memories buried deep in the cobwebbed regions of my brain, I found myself in a convertible with five other girls, driving down 101 on our way back to Isla Vista and the home of UC Santa Barbara, which we all attended. Cracklin Rosie came on the radio. Cherlyn, the driver, turned the dial a bit to the right. Not too loud. We all rolled our eyes in disgust; someone made the comment, “Yuck, Neil Diamond.” Then lips started surreptitiously moving, six pairs of eyes slid side to side, thirty seconds passed then the radio went all the way to the right and next thing we’re moving, shaking, and singing in that car as it flew down the highway. When we got home, someone pulled out a tape hidden in her bottom drawer, behind all the t-shirts she never wore. We put it on and spent the next hour on our back deck singing and dancing to Neil, embarrassed no more and joined by several neighbors. Later that evening we traded stories about parents and their love for Neil.

Maybe this is why I love Red Red Wine so much…The drink and the song.

Several years later my sister, Colleen, called and said, “Marc (her husband) got tickets to take us to see Neil Diamond. Do you want to go?” Are you kidding? Hell yeah I wanted to go. And go we did. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to a lot. We stood in the rafters (nobody sat), the babies, old ladies, and everyone in between shakin our booties and singing along.

When your parents party all weekend and the only records in their collection to dance to are Neil Diamond, well, he becomes a piece of childhood and hence an unforgettable mainstay in your life. So to celebrate Neil and all the happy memories he’s brought me and those I know and don’t know, this morning I started my day listening to the entire Hot August night album. Best way to put a smile on your face. So come on people “Take my hand in yours, Walk with me this day, In my heart, I know 
I will never stray…”

Halle, halle, halle, halle, halle, halle, halle
It’s Love, Love
 Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show
Pack up the babies
Grab the old ladies
Everyone goes
Everyone knows
Brother Love’s show

Here’s to you Neil Diamond.

Howard’s Commentary:
If the Can Opener makes me dance to Solitary Man one more time I’m going to puke on her pillow.

Howard out!

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About shana

Shana Mahaffey lives in San Francisco, California, in part of an Edwardian compound that she shares with an informal cooperative of family, friends, and five cats. She’s a survivor of catechism and cat scratch fever, and is a member of the Sanchez Grotto Annex, a writers’ co-op. She welcomes all visitors to her website and is happy to meet with book groups in-person or in cyberspace (phone/webcam/the works).
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One Response to Pack up the babies, grab the old ladies….

  1. MOM says:

    Sure did bring back memories, especially of Tahoe. You can’t possibly forget Olivia Newton John can you?…………. I think Rudy was directing traffic to Neil Diamond

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