Neil, Barry, and a Little Bit of Heaven
The year was 1973. My girlfriend and I were two 18-year-olds heading out on a grown-up adventure – a road trip from our suburban Philadelphia homes to Flushing Meadows, NY where we had tickets to see and hear our musical idol, Neil Diamond. It didn’t matter that we never thought to look at a map before we got on the road. It didn’t matter that we had no gas in the car and no food in a cooler. It also didn’t matter that we had bleacher seats so far from the stage they probably had a New Jersey zip code. The only thing we cared about was being in Flushing Meadows, seeing Neil, and singing every word to “I Am I Said,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Holly Holy,” and of course, “Song Sung Blue.” Between the height of those bleachers and the music, we were in heaven.
The year was 1977. My boyfriend and I were sitting high on the side of a hill at an outdoor concert venue. We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of another one of my favorite pop singers, Barry Manilow. OK – I was anxiously waiting; my boyfriend was just tolerating the whole situation. I remember noticing how many other couples looked a lot like us – the girls were giggly, silly, and anticipating a major musical event. The guys, of course, were there because they had to be, or they wouldn’t be spoken to for weeks. Barry arrived on stage and his legion of female fans let him know how excited they were to see him. Again, I found myself singing along, remembering every word to “This One’s For You,” “Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again,” “Weekend in New England,” “Looks Like We Made It,” and “Mandy.” Between the height of that hill and the music, I was in heaven.
The year is 2012. From my second-floor office cubbie just a few steps away from the theatre’s balcony, I have the pleasure of reliving these and other great musical memories several times each week. In American Icons, I get to hear songs originally sung by both Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow as they take their rightful place alongside other iconic American artists like Billy Joel, Judy Garland, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra. Many years have come and gone since I attended those wonderful concerts, but standing high up in the balcony and listening to all that memorable music, I realize I still remember most of the words, and sometimes I’m right back there, enjoying a little bit of heaven.
Donna Haefner is a member of American Music Theatre’s Marketing Department. She can be reached at dhaefner@AMTshows.com.