Following up on the last post, my friend Tim S. has blessed us with a piece he wrote a little while ago that is just terrific – funny, insightful and all that…And, did I mention its core is Neil Diamond…So, pretty hard to lose on that one. Tim has agreed to write another piece after the Steelers win their 6th Bowl (if it doesn’t happen, I have to write something about the Browns…scary…), but until then check out Joint Contrast for more lovin’. Thanks Tim:
Most people that know me know I listen to more than just hip hop, just not that much more. But certain artists and certain albums slide through my generic b-boy crossed arms and penetrate my completely ironic ice grill stare to find a place in my musical lexicon(of course they tend to be pretty girls with battered psyche’s and a gift for deft lyricism). The men have a harder time (not unlike the women in hip hop) to gain my attention and reverence. Bob Dylan was always an interesting figure to me, but someone who until I discovered his last three albums was more of a mythical creature who’s folklore was the strength of his staying power. So when I heeded the words of many a publication(which I usually do only to find I’ve been duped) and delved into the masterpiece that is Modern Times then tracked back to Love & Theft and Time Out of Mind I found the Bob Dylan so many people have had all along- and I felt truly rewarded. So I never overlook an artist even if my preexisting opinion feels concrete, because I might miss a beautiful piece of art. Although if you can’t hook me quick then fuck off because good music gets you immediately, or it slowly(but shortly) lulls you in but it does not take its time. With all that said I am completely surprised with my newfound love of Neil Diamond.
99 Problems but a rhinestone jumpsuit ain’t one- Rick Rubin is a genius! He helped build def jam- helped show the world the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, and LL Cool J. He was a pioneer in the hip hop world and then he got into yoga and started producing Slayer albums. Okay I couldn’t give a fuck about the last part but it does show amazing range. I’m not a Johnny Cash fan but the cover of the Nine Inch Nail song Hurt was brilliant. He played around with various rock bands and old Johnny for almost a decade then decide to produce one of the dopest tracks in Jay-Z’s catalogue in 99 Problems-showing once again extreme range. Now what the fuck does this have to do with that guy who sang Sweet Caroline and Coming to America? A couple years ago I heard he was producing Neil Diamond’s record 12 songs. I listened and I absolutely loved it. Amazing lyrics(yes the guy that sang the blue jean song is a great lyricist) and great harmonies with a stripped down acoustic arrangement without an ounce of….ok maybe a couple ounces of corniness but that only added to the charm.
Side note: Rick Rubin produced the last Dixie Chicks album and not only was it listenable, it was pretty fucking good. Now that doesn’t change the fact that I might slice my wrist with a dull spoon if I ever hear the stupid fucking earl song again!
Back to the regularly scheduled program.
So in early 2008 the Rubix Cube(ic) Zirconia Diamond(my cleverness haunts me) team joined forces again. Home Before Dark came out in early may 2008 and for a simple description it’s stunning. This album is to be listened to alone, the connection must be singular. If you have a preconceived notion of Neil Diamond you won’t find it on this album. Love found, love lost are universal themes but when they are delivered with a tough sense of responsibility and a vulnerable sense of regret they become so much more than just themes, they become truths. This album has many truths to revel in. The opening track If I Don’t See You Again is as haunting as any relationship song I’ve ever heard. It evokes the lurking ghost we all maneuver through life avoiding, doubt. But underscoring that darkness is a sense fulfilment. Let’s all be mature and admit life is full of loss. But most times we don’t notice what we lose on any level let alone in the interpersonal realm, so when it hurts at least that means it was real. The partner to this song is One More Bite of the Apple. A song of redemption if you will. “Was a time I will never forget/ times I will never regret/ I was thinking bout those times from way back when thinking I could bring them back again/..one more dance in the night/one more chance to get it right/ one more grasp at the brass ring flying by/ one more toast to the mud in your eyes/ coming back for one more bite of the apple” – Word muthafuckin up! Broken hearts rejoice Neil Diamond is riding for you. On a whole this is an album for romantics and the songs let you connect with your past and appreciate your present and hope for your future. What else could you ask for? I guess all it lacks is a Lil’ Wayne collabo, but you could just ask one of the 75 protooling assholes down the street for that one.