I’m Sorry, Neil Diamond!

Neil Diamond


Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I should never be taken to a concert again because I don’t deserve it.  I’m not a reveler, a participator or a throw-your-body-and-soul-into-the-experience kind of person.  Concerts should be saved for those who are.

To illustrate: One of the items on my elusive bucket list was to see Neil Diamond in concert before he or I died–the likelihood of either not being out of the question. Because my husband, Brad, will do anything for me (except put the regular waste basket and recycle waste basket in their exact proper places so I don’t have to think before I throw), he bought me an incredible gift for my birthday last year–tickets to a Neil Diamond concert.  Wow!  And these were not the nosebleed tickets.  Brad spent over $400 to please me and to let me hear “September Morn” up close and personal.

I had months to anticipate the great event since my birthday is in February and the concert wasn’t until August 29.  When the night finally came–after St. Patrick’s Day, a trip to Canada, Easter, some trips to Flagstaff, the birth of a very welcomed new grand son, the Fourth of July, two family reunions, and other sundry happenings–we finally found our seats in the US Airways Center.  We discovered that even with our outstanding tickets, we still needed to watch Neil on the enormous screens if we wanted to see what he really looked like at 71.

He was an outstanding performer, singing with tremendous vitality, which shows what’s possible with continued practice even into one’s seventh decade.  That’s promising.  I loved his singing, I loved his songs, although he left out two I had hoped to hear: the “September Morn” and “Song Sung Blue.”

He was great.  I wasn’t!  I learned something about myself that night which I should have already known: my inhibitions get in the way of true enjoyment and abandon that are needed at a concert–especially a Neil Diamond Concert.

This fact smacked me in the face when he sang “Sweet Caroline.”  The sold out crowd of 17,000 really got into that song–waving their arms and “bah, bah, bahing.”  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t wave my arms.  I couldn’t “bah.”  I was disgusting!  Brad didn’t wave or “bah” either, but he didn’t care.  We sat there and watched 34,000–minus four–arms waving to the slow, rocking rhythm of “Sweet Caroline.”  Those people were into it.  They were reveling, they were participating, they were throwing their bodies and souls into the experience.  I envied them!  They were so captivated by the music that Mr. Diamond just kept singing, “Sweet Caroline..Bah, Bah, Bah…………”  over and over again.

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

Sweet Caroline,

I believe they never could

Sweet Caroline…

When they were positive that “Sweet Caroline” was not going to be revived for the twentieth time, the crowd just melted to their seats, having experienced nirvana.  Look what I missed!  Because I am so inhibited, because I am so stilted, because I didn’t want to totally release myself to the music, I missed out.  I wonder if I’d have been willing to wave my arms if Brad wasn’t there.  Does he inhibit me?  Yikes!

I know that I can’t totally blame Brad for my inhibitions because I have been aware of them on other occasions.  While working the cash register at a very successful fall boutique, I was asked to wear a witch’s hat to help the customers feel the holiday spirit.  No! No! No!  I almost ran.  I could not and would not wear that hat.  I marvel at those that can wear Santa hats or reindeer antlers or other head adornments while walking through the mall or checking people out at Fry’s.  I even balked when my daughter thoughtfully changed my ring tone to “Jingle Bells” to get me in the Christmas mood.  I made her change it back immediately to a congruently safe “Strum.”

I’ll never be comfortable wearing weird hats or having my phone blast out a celebration tune, but I do wish I could let myself go and at least wave my arms occasionally.

Friends took us to a Fab 4 concert–another concert I didn’t deserve to go to.  Watching the Fab 4 is like watching the Beatles in all their glory.  They were Fabulous times 4 and deserved some waving.  But no, I held onto my feelings like a cowboy reining in some wild horses.  I still regret not standing up and waving my arms or even screaming as I kind of remember doing at a Beatles movie in the 60’s!

Maybe I have an excess of enzyme inhibitors.  Could that be possible?  At any rate, I need to practice letting go and letting a little playfulness reign in my life.

I have a perfect practicing opportunity in Voice Class where I found out today that I have to sing a tiny portion of the Temptations’ “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” like they sang it–uninhibited!  Whoa–my comfort zone totally got discomforted!  Its pillow, blanket and cozy sweatsuit were just whisked away.

But I can do this.  I’ve been listening to Wayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones again and he reminded me that I can be anything.  All right.  I can be uninhibited for a few lines of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.” And just now, only because I am home alone and I even looked behind me to make sure no one was watching, I practiced waving my arms to “Sweet Caroline.”  Yes, truly, I did.  And you know what?  “Good times never seemed so good!”



2 comments on “I’m Sorry, Neil Diamond!

  1. Alice says:

    Woo hoo! You can do it Liz!

  2. Marianne says:

    You are so funny Liz! You should be proud of yourself for not following the crowd and falling or “waving” to peer pressure!! There is nothing more awkward than faking like you are a waver just because everyone else at the concert is doing it! Been there, done that!! 🙂 ps. Not that it is their fault but husbands do inhibit that I think. Have you ever been to a concert with a bunch of females? Much easier to let go…not sure why. Let’s go try it sometime. Not Neil Diamond though! lol

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