Neil Diamond, Bob and Writing
According to Bill Murray in the movie “What About Bob?”, ‘there are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.’
It was just a few minutes before Neil took the stage at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Coliseum in Birmingham, Alabama a few years back when the power of artistic creation hit me in a way that I had never realized before. There was an aura of excitement and anticipation in the air that surrounded you, even soaked into you…whether you were a fan or not.
As I sat in the upper deck, I looked around the arena and thought about exactly what I was experiencing. The audience of over 18,000 ranged from young teens to men and women in their 70’s, all wearing similar Neil Diamond merchandise. Some had signs. Women in the first few rows down on the floor had bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals and other gifts that they planned present to Neil once the show started and they could get his attention for a few seconds.
Suspended above the stage was over 100,000 pounds of lighting and sound gear worth at least half a million dollars.
Then the most fascinating, incredible aspect of the entire scenario occurred to me. Everything I was seeing and would soon experience was the product of one man’s imagination. More specifically, his art. A seed had been planted in his soul and he had exercised the courage to water it, face the vulnerability to expose it to the light, care for it, prune it and allow it to grow and mature.
Whether you side with Bob or his ex-wife concerning Neil Diamond, you owe it to yourself to experience his classic song ‘I Am…I Said’ in a live setting. The power, the emptiness, the longing and the painful struggle of self-assertion move you in a way that you just don’t experience very often in this life. It moves you. The force and range of emotion you experience is not what you could have imagined just a few minutes earlier looking at inanimate instruments on a dark stage.
That’s why we read fiction; more importantly, it’s why authors write it. The very same experience is what we both are looking for, and it comes from the same place that a Neil Diamond show originates.
It’s where all art comes from that reaches us. Painting, music, film, sculpture, photography, writing and many others all originate in the imagination of an eternal soul inhabiting a body on a journey through this life. Asking questions, finding answers, seeking solutions, sharing, laughing, hurting and healing.
A single person with an idea, a belief, a story, an experience, and a blank canvass. The brush can take many forms; chalk, oils, a chisel, or words...in the hands of an artist, anything can become a brush.
When a person decides to face the vulnerability and pick up his or her personal brush and make that first stroke, indescribable beauty and power can be unleashed. For a writer, it is often a story that reveals us to ourselves.
For the reader, it’s that feeling you get when you hit page 20 and realize that this one is speaking to you…yes, this one is special. By page 50, you’re a part of a situation, a town, a life, a challenge that calls you back every time you leave to take care of necessities like work, relationships or buying groceries. It’s not just some character in a book who falls in love, wins the lottery, loses a loved one, meets someone special…it’s you doing those things and it’s hard to distinguish where the character ends and you begin.
All the emotion, the introspection, the sheer glee of breaking through, solving the problem, reaching the goal…it all takes place in a most unique, incredible medium.
No words have been spoken. There was no music or special effects to guide the senses. Often, the characters and towns never existed in our world in a physical sense. The writer silently writes or types and the reader silently reads. Only silence and intimacy, and the world changes.
That’s why we write; it’s why we read. ~ M. Thomas Long
Please don't forget to check back tomorrow for my review of M. Thomas Long's latest novel Blue Monday sponsored through Pump Up Your Book Tours. You will definitely LOVE this one!