Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On guilty pleasures, again

On guilty pleasures, again

On a playlist on my MP3 player, just after The Smiths' song in praise of the former manager of Glasgow Rangers - How Souness Now?* - comes one of my greatest guilty secrets: Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond.

God, yes. Neil Diamond.

I grew up in a household where we only had four cassettes for our 'radiogram'. It still remember the great steam-powered monstrosity that it was, with SOLID STATE written on the front to prove that "Hey, this might be a juggernaut, but you don't have to wait for no valves to warm up".

You clunked one of our four cassettes into the machine, pressed play, pushed up the faders and heard the distinctive, measured 'pink-pink-pink' as the wheels set themselves in motion.

Two of them were by The Beatles, which explains my praise of Abbey Road as a work of genius, and Sgt Pepper as a big pile of donkey poo. The others were both 'greatest hits' collections.

Elton John. It was green.

Neil Diamond.

And, frankly, not knowing any better, I played Neil Diamond's Twelve Greatest Hits to death.

Ironic, really, as I laboured under the impression for much of the 1970s and 1980s - the result of not paying absolute attention to some TV programme - that Neil Diamond was dead. He wasn't exactly prolific at the time, and neither did my mum go out and buy "Neil Diamond's Twelve More Greatest Hits" to give me some sort of clue that he was very much alive.

I can - embarrassingly - still sing along to Sweet Caroline, Song Sung Blue,Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show, Cracklin' Rosie and squeeze out a stupidly emotional tear to I Am... I Said.

Then my dad bought The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin by John Bird and Alan Coren, and I forgot all about Neil Diamond.

And then punk came out and I pretended I hadn't heard of ANY of them.

The presence of Neil Diamond tracks on my MP3 player betrays me. I went out - as a consenting adult - to genuine record shop and bought product by the man himself. I cannot lie.

And it's out there, on the internets, waiting to draw you in...

Hand touching hand...
Reaching out...
Touching me...
Touching you...
Sweet Caroline - Good times never seemed so good!
Sorry. I'll stop now.

Today, I have decided, is World Neil Diamond Day. So mote it be.

* I've also got a song of theirs about Morrissey's love of punctuation - 'Girlfriend in a Comma'

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