Thursday, January 24, 2013

That Guy Who Wrote "I'm a Believer"

It's Neil Diamond's birthday  (1/24/1941).

He is credited with writing 4 songs for the Monkees. And it is rumored he can kinda be heard singing backup on the one mentioned above.  Biggest selling single, 7 weeks at #1, 1966.

Honestly, I am/was/am a HUGE fan of ND. (off and on, I prefer him when he's not so popular.  And not dressed in sequins.)

In 1980, ND acted & sang in "The Jazz Singer" film.  Oddly enough, Bob Rafaelson's uncle (Sam) wrote the original short story and play back in the 1920's.  The property had been remade several times before (once starring Danny Thomas).  The original 1927 film (which Uncle Sam did not write!) is a landmark in film history.  And not just because Al Jolson was in it (although according to his legendary ego, that's all you need).

It was the FIRST SOUND MOVIE.  'Nuff said.

You may have seen a clip of him saying his famous line:"You ain't heard nothin' yet!".  And he sings to his mother.  (Of course)

The plot is about a Jewish Cantor who wants to make it in show business.  He has to leave behind his religious tradition and of course becomes a big star.  Laurence Olivier plays ND's father and does a great job as an old Jewish man.  Compare that performance to his role in "Marathon Man"  (as a former Nazi, masochistic dentist).

Oddly enough, the play is almost a template for most of the songwriters who came out of Tin Pan Alley, and then of the 50's and 60's generation, the Brill Building.  Neil Diamond and Carole King and Gerry Goffin and many others came from Brooklyn or the Lower East Side and worked their way up.  The 1980 movie shows the contrast in temperatures as another aspect of the two different worlds.  NYC is shown as cold and rainy and old fashioned.  Sunny LA is a place of easy success and easy morals.  A cautionary tale whose stereotype still holds up (superficially) today.   (As of this night in January, the wind chill in NYC, outside my window, is supposed to hit -1.  Personally, I would gladly sell out to LA. "If only they were buying"-a joke stolen from Peter Tork)

==
Back to More Monkees Songs That ND Wrote:
"Little Bit Me, Little Bit You"  If you see this in person when Peter is doing it with Shoe Suede Blues, you MUST hold up 2 fingers when he sings, "Little Bit You, too".  It's a visual pun.  Also, Peter will sometimes sing "Three" or hold up 3 fingers when he sings "too".  Just to make sure you are paying attention.

"Lookout, Here Comes Tomorrow" (which I happen to love, because of its fun lyrical quality and rhythm. And my first name is Tamara)

"Love to Love" Not really released, included as bonus material (I have no idea how this goes)
NOT to be confused with the disco hit by Donna Summer, "Love to Love You Baby"
17 minute version here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5AztWseIdU


==
Not to get off topic (which I LOVE to LOVE to do), but here's a list of the Top 10 Hits:
http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/genre/rock-and-pop/the-monkees-top-10-billboard-hot-100-hits-1006318552.story

You can easily guess the first 5:
#1 I'm A
#2 Daydream
#3 Clarksville
#4 Little Bit
#5 PVS

But the next ones are kinda surprising:

#6 Valleri
#7 That was Then, This is Now (1986!!!)
#8 Words
#9 D.W. Washburn
#10 Steppin Stone

Leave it to Billboard!! I wonder if ND ended up with more money from the recordings than the 4 Boys.

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