I bought some cassette tapes at a yard sale the other day– among them, Neil Diamond’s “Live in America” album, yet another Neil where I’d know all the songs, but hadn’t actually heard this exact album. The double CD has him singing Hava Nagila, but not my tape– damn.
But my tape has something that nobody else’s tape has. My tape has Neil Diamond in full-on black metal mode.
Well, not really. Due to some fault of the tape (and I’ve never heard anything even remotely like this before) the first five or six seconds sound exactly like a motorcycle. It was so believable that I was wondering how I had ever missed Neil Diamond riding a motorcycle onto stage. Pretty soon I realized this was some tape malfunction, right around the time Neil started his black metal vocal version of “America.”Yep. There was Neil, doing the Cookie Monster growling vox– “Faaaaaaaar! We’ve been traveling FAAAAARRRR!”
Both my wife and I were more than a little taken aback. This was a side of Neil I wasn’t previously aware of. And yeah, it was a lot of fun. I started making evil hand gestures, growling along with Neil as he ripped into the chorus, which now took on an overtone of invasion– “They’re coming to Americaaaaa! TODAAAAY! TODAAAAAY!”
Neil was getting all NSBM on me, as the tape somehow continued its crazed-viking onslaught. Up for a laugh, we went along with it– a little head-banging, throwing up the horns, and nearly spitting up my Coke when the tape drug out the bit about the “eye of the storm,” pitching it deep into Neil’s gut.
By the time “Hello, Again” came on, Neil’s black metal tendencies had mostly worn off. Every so often, the tape would sputter again, but it was clear that the odd confluence of tape and stereo wouldn’t happen again– Neil’s short-lived day as a black metal vocalist was over.