David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 74: Neil Diamond (Dry Your Eyes)

July 9, 2020

Diamond Lake, a lake in Cass County, where I live, surrounded by fancy, schmanzy homes, made the national news on July 4 because of a large party at the public access site, hundreds of young men and women sans masks, frankly sans most clothing, clearly mocking any CDC guidelines about social distancing. Diamond Lake is one of the first places in Cass County, outside of Southwestern Michigan College, that I discovered, as I was invited to a College Foundation fundraiser there, even before I had officially started my first day (and while I was still commuting from Caledonia). There was just something about the place that made me call it Neil Diamond Lake as I drove away that first time.

Let's come back to 2020 and all these idiots. I want to weep for the stupidity as Cass County has been relatively COVID-19 free.  However I fall back on my favorite Neil Diamond song (granted, there aren't many, but who knows what the future holds), "Dry Your Eyes," which I grew to love from his performance of it with The Band (and Robbie Robertson who helped write and produce it) during The Last Waltz.  "Dry Your Eyes," which apparently is meant to invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King, is about as straightforward as a song can get. The beat of a military march fits the line "dry your eyes and play it slowly/just like you're marching off to war," which is exactly how Diamond plays the song. There are no instrumental fireworks, no solos, no bridges. The entirety of the song, especially on the studio version, falls to two verses, making it a heck of a lot easier that "if it ever is forgotten/sing it long and sing it loud." Which, let's face it, makes no freaking sense. How can I sing something I forgot (this was the man with the bizarre "'I am I Said:" I said/to no one there/and no one heard at all/not even the chair," so what do I expect?).

Still, what those party-goers did on July 4 at (Neil) Diamond Lake makes no sense. Risk of infection long forgotten, the video shows them singing long and singing loud. The video I've seen shows them singing to Guns 'N Roses, apparently ready to "sing it like you always wanted/like you sung it once before/and from the center of the circle/to the biggest of the waiting crowd," I hope they are ready to dry their eyes when they or their loved ones can't sing because of a damn ventilator or a damn tube shoved down their throat.

Ventilators are something I know way too much about. Tracheostomies suck. Trust me. Lying in a hospital bed will teach us "a lot more about living/than we ever cared to know." Protecting each other and our loved ones is "more than being holy," but a hell of a lot "less than being free."  Come on, everyone, dry your damn eyes and suck it up buttercup.

Maybe this entry in the 365 artists in 365 songs is a bit of a stretch. Even up to 10 years ago, I probably never would have included a Neil Diamond song; after all, he is what I associated with a friend's older sister, and that can't be cool. However, as West Virginia Mountaineer fans mock the University of Pittsburgh during "Sweet Caroline," Neil Diamond became something to rediscover. I hate to admit I can thank Robbie Robertson, as Diamond's appearance in The Last Waltz led me to a new consideration. Everything I have since read about The Last Waltz now suggests that it was Robbie Robertson out of control controlling everything for The Band.  Some members of The Band didn't even think Diamond deserved to be there, but that he was foisted upon them because of Robertson's collaboration with him. Look, he didn't do "Cherry, Cherry." I will be thankful for that, forever and always.

"Dry Your Eyes." Beautiful Noise. Neil Diamond. Columbia. 1976. Live link here.

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Day 75: Sister Sledge "We Are Family."

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