When I was nine years old, my sister took me with her to San Francisco. My mother had died the previous winter, and my darlin' sister, in her early twenties looking for fun and adventure, had to take me on her trip to the big city. She was going to visit friends, then we'd travel to San Bernardino to see mom's brother and our cousins. It was a HUGE trip for me: my first airplane trip, my first visit to a large city, and I got to take twenty whole dollars with me to spend any way I wanted. I tried to buy my sister a suede fringed purse that was all the hippy rage, but she made me take it back. So I think I spent it wisely on bubblegum, and a Leo mug, which I still have, and is still so very far out. The bubble gum came in handy when we were catching a trolley car and this fat woman pushed me out of the way so she could get on and sit down before I could get on, and I managed to sneak a huge wad out of my mouth and under her corpulent behind. My sister was so proud of me.
Anyway, two songs have always reminded me of that trip - "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" by Dionne Warwick, and "Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond. We'd hear them in the backseat of the car that someone else was driving while we were on our way to the zoo, or Fisherman's Wharf, or Sausolito. God, even typing this brings a lump to my throat. That was the trip that made me thirsty for culture, for diversity and the buzz of life that you can only get in the city.
So why not put one of those on my HeadSong list? Well, just because I didn't do it today, doesn't mean that I never will. But today it had to be Sweet Caroline. For Father's Day, we got Charley two new Neil Diamond cd's (12 Songs and Home Before Dark, both of which are fantastic), but it left me itching to hear the old stuff, the stuff I came of age to. The first concert I ever attended was Neil Diamond in 1977 (or was it '78?) with my friend Deonne Poe and her parents. He wore a puffy sleeved shirt, much like the one in this video, and he looked on the big screen like my high school crush, Steve Leatham. Oh, Steve. Where are you now? He had that black hair and those sparkly eyes, and mmmmmm dreaminess.
ANYWAY. Sorry. How many tangents can I fit into this HeadSong post? Don't get me started, people. Where was I? Oh, yes, Sweet Caroline. The reason I went with this one is simple. Joe-Henry got to pick today. He's been on a Neil Diamond kick with us, and this one is his favorite. And he just got back yesterday, and he's yummy, and he makes me smile. And he watched this video with such rapt attention, I just know it's going to be the first song on his first cover album.
Good times never seemed so good.