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On This Day in History, January 24: A Boy Looked Out On ‘Brooklyn Roads’

If I close my eyes

I can almost hear my mother

Callin’ “Neil, go find

your brother.

Daddy’s home, it’s time

for supper.”

Two floors above the butcher

First door on the right,

Life filled to the brim

As I stood by my window

And looked out at those

Brooklyn roads.

Thought of going back,

But all I’d see are strangers’ faces

And all the scars that

love erases.

But as my mind walks through those places,

I’m wondering

What’s become of them?

The above are lyrics of three verses from “Brooklyn Road,” a song written by Neil Diamond that reflects some of his childhood days in Brooklyn. The complete song is lovely and nostalgic.

Neil Diamond was born in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn on Jan. 24, 1941, a descendant of Polish and Russian Jews. His father, Kieve Diamond, was in the dry goods business and kept moving his business to a succession of Brooklyn neighborhoods. The changing of schools made it difficult for the introverted Neil to make and keep friends. This loneliness is reflected in “Brooklyn Roads.”

He attended Erasmus Hall High School, where he and Barbra Streisand sang in the same choral group, but they did not know each other at the time. He became a song writer because as a child he did not have much self-esteem and song-writing relieved a lot of his frustration.

By 1973 Diamond had moved from being a poor student to earning seven figure compensation for composing soundtracks such as “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”

Diamond has become one of our most accomplished song-writers and singers. His first hit was “Sunday and Me” (1965). He wrote it for Jay and The Americans, then “I’m a Believer,” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” which became hits for The Monkees. From 1966 through 1983 he wrote 36 hits, among them, “Sweet Caroline” (’69), “Cherry, Cherry,” “Cracklin’ Rosie” (’70), “Song Sung Blue” (’72), and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Barbra Streisand (’78).

Diamond’s concerts are always sold out. He was the artist who opened the Alladin Theatre for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. In 1980 he starred in a remake of the classic film The Jazz Singer, for which he composed the soundtrack and wrote several hits: “America,” “Love on the Rocks,” “You Baby Baby,” “Jerusalem,” “On the Robert E. Lee,” “Hello Again” and more.

More than 115 million of his records have been sold worldwide. Some of his latest are “Essential CD,” “Three Chord Opera” and “Crunchy Granola Suite.”

He wrote music for and had a part in the 2001 movie Saving Silverman. In 2009, he released a new holiday album, “A Cherry Cherry Christmas.”

Diamond has made extensive tours — nationwide and worldwide. He is in demand for New Year’s Eve shows in Las Vegas annually.

His honors include a place on Brooklyn’s Celebrity Path at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which he received on on June 15, 2000.          

January 24, 2012 - 9:50am


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