Biographical Poetry posted December 17, 2023

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Solitary Man

Neil Diamond

by Debbie D'Arcy

From poverty his star would steer
like Barbra,* just the same.
A Jewish boy who yearned to Hear
Them Bells ring out his name.
So blessed to have a fine guitar
when just sixteen years old,
a gift that would enrich him far -
he'd found his pot of Gold.
In poetry he'd spend his time,
enchant the girls at school.
The Art of Love he'd learn in rhyme -
a precious Diamond rule!
From Brooklyn Roads, his muse would soar,
he'd pen to gratify
but, bound by Pop, he wanted more -
to spread his wings and fly
To L.A. where his vocal range
would mellow and mature.
Sweet Caroline would mark a change,
a hit that would endure.
And other songs beyond compare
like Cracklin' Rosie too.
Inspired by Mozart, he would share
his heart in Song Sung Blue.
But though his hopes were coming true,
he battled fear and dread,
for stardom left him lost, askew -
he sang I Am...I Said.
His life had dealt him woeful knocks
of doubt, divorce, dismay
and Love (of fame was) On the Rocks;
he longed for Yesterday.
But Captain Sunshine would be true
and back to steal the show
with beaded shirts of vivid hue,
this Diamond was aglow.
In five decades his light has shone,
still here Another Day.
Defying illness, never gone,
his music's here to stay.
America (his anthem chimes)
that helped his kinfolk cope
to sail the seas in bygone times
and start their lives in hope.
For love has been his rock throughout,
a gem of fate that's cast.
With third wife, Katie, there's no doubt,
his Rainbow's here to last.
From heartthrob to a man of poise
whose faith would keep him strong
to rise above the glory noise
and sing his Freedom Song.



Image courtesy of Google free pics.
Song titles have been used for the poetic purpose of the biography and may not always relate to the context of the songs or the period. They may also be slightly amended to accommodate the meter. Dates in brackets in the notes refer to release.

Stanza 1 - Hear Them Bells (1996 the first song he wrote) He was born in 1941 in Brooklyn to a Jewish family.
*Barbra Streisand. They went to the same High School, weren't particular friends at the time but went on to corroborate in their music. They famously sang in duet You Don't Bring me Flowers.

Stanza 2 - Gold ( 1970 live album recorded at the Troubadour)

Stanza 3 - The Art of Love (2014 in praise of his third wife). He wrote poetry wherever he could, even on buses, and quickly learned the way to a girl's heart!.

Stanza 4 - Brooklyn Roads (1968) In 1966 he signed with Bang Records but started to feel restricted by its emphasis on superficial pop music. He wanted to expand and write more ambitious and introspective music such as Brooklyn Roads.

Stanza 5 - Sweet Caroline (1969 - this could have referred to Caroline Kennedy or his first wife, Marcia, whose name he couldn't rhyme. It took one hour to write and compose).

Stanza 6 - Cracklin' Rosie (1970 - referring to a cheap bottle of wine called Cracklin' Rose. While touring in Canada he came upon a reservation where men outnumbered women and this wine substituted for the weekend!)
Song Sung Blue ( 1972 - inspired by the 2nd movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto #21. He recognised that we all had one such blue song inside us).

Stanza 7 - I Am.. I Said (1971 - this deeply philosophical song took four months to write during which he agonised over a loss of identity caused by fame. The reference to a chair in the lyrics is the psychiatrist's chair, so prevalent over his stardom years).

Stanza 8 - Love on the Rocks (1980); Yesterday (1981) He sought therapy for much of his career as he tried to reconcile the public image with the very insecure private one that craved a more anonymous and family life)

Stanza 9 - Captain Sunshine ( 2002) After an operation to remove a tumour in his back and a lengthy period of rehabilitation in a wheelchair during which he continued writing, he returned to the stage in dazzling style!

Stanza 10 - Another Day (1971) In 2018, after a diagnosis of Parkinson's, he announced his intention to retire from touring, although he continued his performances.

Stanza 11 - America ( 1981) - All four of his grandparents were immigrants, from Poland on his father's side, Russia on his mother's.

Stanza 12 - Rainbow (1973 - a compilation album of covers). He married his third wife, forty-one year old, Katie McNeil, in 2012. As well as serving as his manager, she also produced the documentary: Neil Diamond: Hot August Nights NYC. His 2014 album, Melody Road, was inspired and motivated by his celebratory love in this relationship. He has four children by his previous marriages.

Stanza 13 - Freedom Road (2013). Through age, self-imposed slowing down of his career and focusing more clearly on his personal life, this conflicted man seems to have reached a more contented and fulfilled stage in his life in which he can fully appreciate the Beautiful Noise (1976) of his celebrity without being drowned out by it.

He is one of the best-selling musicians of all time and, among countless accolades, in 2018 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also an actor, appearing in such films as The Jazz Singer (1980) which parallels a conflict between family values and ambition.

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