I was raised by parents who loved middle-of-the-road pop. You know, Melissa Manchester, Boz Scaggs, Chicago, Country Joe and the Fish, Don McLean, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles . . . and so on. As I grew, so, too, did I wince. I'll give Mom and Dad credit, though, for one thing. They instilled in me the virtues of Neil Diamond. At his peak, the man wrote amazing rock songs ("I'm a Believer," "Kentucky Woman," "Red Red Wine") and uniquely romantic schmaltz ("Heartlight," "I Am . . . I Said"). He sang them in an expressive rasp and sold them with an innate flair, as if God had created him to entertain. I normally cringe at the prospect of a greatest-hits show (Paul McCartney? Yuck! Poo!), but in this instance, it's all good. Besides, Neil still looks cool in those sequined stage outfits.
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