I’ve called this post “Spring Bling” because crystals and diamonds are on my mind today. No, not that pretty Swarovski crystal, but instead crystals of snow, those beautiful frilly flakes, that were supposed to be fluttering down to the ground in the early hours of this, the first day of Spring. But yeah – the predicted snow flurries never materialized here, so I guess those intricate crystals whirled and twirled their way to parts unknown – probably Boston. So, with crossed arms and tapping a foot, I await Spring which doesn’t officially arrive until 6:45 p.m. (which is not soon enough in my humble opinion).
I set out for a walk on this cold morn, with the earworm of the day, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.
Neil Diamond is in town tonight. It’s been déjà vu all week for me. Every time I heard a snippet of one of his most-famous songs it took me back … way back … and suddenly I was awash in the memories and the music, just like it was yesterday.
When I was a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Neil Diamond, he with the dark wavy hair, brooding good looks and mellow voice. I loved all his songs and never tired of listening to Neil singing “Solitary Man” – I wanted to pat his hand and say “there, there” or maybe “wait for me – I’ll make it right for you” … all wishful thinking on my part.
Though I had a collection of 45s, my very first record album was a promotional LP gleaned from cereal box tops back in 1972. The double-sided album entitled “It’s Happening” featured The Supremes on one side and Neil Diamond on the flip side. I had my favorites “Brooklyn Roads”, “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” and “Long Gone” memorized in no time, and I played them so often, it’s a wonder the needle still stayed steady in the grooves of the vinyl.
I saw Neil Diamond twice, but it was many years ago.
The first time I saw him in concert was in the Summer of 1976 with a group of college chums. We had lawn seats at the former Pine Knob Music Theatre on a beautiful June night. It didn’t matter if you were up close or far away, he stirred the crowd and everyone jumped up and swayed as one while they sang to “Forever in Blue Jeans”.
The second time was in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. It was April of 1983 and Neil kicked off the “Heartlight” tour not far from where we worked. He was here for five shows; we were there for the first night. I went with two co-workers who had a similar affinity for Neil Diamond’s music and we splurged and got great seats. It promised to be a perfect evening and my birthday was that week so we celebrated with a special dinner beforehand.
Though the memories of each of those concerts lived on long after Neil Diamond exited the stage, the remembrance of the concert in Detroit still leaves me a little sad.
The above picture is appropriate for Flashback Friday and this post. It was taken on my sixteenth birthday. Some friends of the family were invited to dinner at our house and they brought a card, a cake and a corsage. To commemorate turning “sweet sixteen” my parents bought me a pretty gold filigree ring. There was a diamond set in each of the two loops in the letter “L” which signified both the April birthstone and the first letter of my name. I opened the jeweler’s box and excitedly slipped the ring onto my finger, but it was so loose I removed it immediately lest it slide off my finger and get lost. I didn’t even include that gift in the picture but it was sitting on “display” on the table. I went with my parents the next day to the jewelry store to have it sized. I treasured that ring and wore it everywhere, with no other jewelry on my hand until I got my high school and college class rings.
The evening we attended the Neil Diamond concert in Detroit, it had been a chilly Spring day. It was downright cold in the large auditorium and my hands were cold. I remember pulling my coat around me, and putting my gloves on briefly, but soon removed them when everyone kept giving their favorite singer a standing ovation. But, one of those times that I was fervently clapping to keep up with the rest of the concertgoers, to my horror, my ring flew off my finger and disappeared into the crowd. “My ring” I cried out to no one in particular, but who could hear me? The music was loud, the speakers cranked to full capacity and the crowd noise was deafening as they crooned along together to so many tunes they knew by heart.
During each concert, Neil Diamond took very few breaks – a few shirt changes and that was it. So, having trained my eyes on the very seat where the ring appeared to have bounced off and landed, my friends and I went to search for it after the concert was over. Down on hands and knees in the dim auditorium, we searched under and around each seat in that area, but my ring was not to be found. We went to report it missing, hoping that the janitorial staff would find the ring and return it to the front office so I could retrieve it.
Ever hopeful, I even called into the J.P. McCarthy Show on WJR the next morning, hoping J.P. could pull some strings and have someone scour the seating area with extra diligence. I lamented that I’d lost a diamond at the Neil Diamond show, and through that clever wordplay, I appealed to any of the listeners who might be attending one of his concerts over the next four nights at this venue. Well, J.P. listened to my story then said “anybody out there who can help this young lady out?” The radio station took my name and address, but my ring was never found.
The old adage is “a diamond is forever”, but sadly, in my case, I was only borrowing mine. I’ve always wondered if that ring was ever recovered or if it languishes, still wedged in a little crevice, nook or cranny somewhere, just waiting to be discovered someday.