Mar 31, 2014

Neil Diamond: All of the Sad, Gay Songs

My junior year in Augustana College (1980-81) was very busy: cruising at the levee, tricking my friend Haldor into a date, going to Professor Burton's Handcuff Party, hanging out with the Bookstore Gang, reading Death in Venice in my German literature class. 

It was all done to a backdrop of Olivia Newton-John, Rex Smith, and especially Neil Diamond.  You couldn't turn on the radio without hearing "Hello Again," "America," or "Love on the Rocks."

Or walk down a dormitory hallway without hearing "September Morn" or "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" playing from someone's room.

In December 1980, everyone went to see Neil Diamond starring in the update of The Jazz Singer.

In March 1981, everyone went to see him in concert in Davenport.

My friend Bruce called him the most handsome man in the world.

I wasn't a big fan.  His songs were earnest, heart-wrenching, and ultimately depressing, and I preferred light-hearted and joyous.

And with greater gay symbolism, like "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, or "I'm Coming Out," by Diana Ross.

Still, he had a nice hairy chest, and I figured he was gay due to his habit of dropping pronouns, so his lost loves could be male or female. Check out "Hello Again":

Hello, my friend, hello
Just called to let you know
I think about you ev'ry night

My friend?

Or "Love on the Rocks":

First they say they want you
How they really need you
Suddenly you find you're out there
Walking in a storm

They say they want you?

Ok, so I was mistaken.  With three heterosexual marriages and a number of hetero-romances on his resume, Neil Diamond is probably straight.

But gay-friendly.

In contemporary performances of "Brother Love," he does a call out: "white or black, gay or straight, big or small, we are all God's children."