While growing up, I was at the mercy of my mom. My social life was confined to whoever she allowed in the house. My fashion was decided by whatever she found at Lamont's in the "Young Dork" section. My musical tastes were limited to what she played in the car on the way to my ballet class and what 8-tracks pumped out of the Zenith stereo. By the age of 9 I could sing any Cat Stevens, Oak Ridge Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, or Lee Hazlewood song ever made. But the one she played the most, the one that I grew to hate with a white hot burning passion, was Neil Diamond. I swore on my mother's own grave—which I imagined myself digging every time I heard "I Am I Said"—that I would do everything in my power to destroy Neil Diamond, given the chance. I was even tricked into watching The Jazz Singer six times before I realized the star of the show was the man I was out to get. As I grew older, I rebelled the way most proud American children do—by going through inexplicable phases. The first was the Duran Duran stage—not only musically rebellious but a bit gender rebellious as well. Every time I saw Nick Rhodes, I questioned more than my desire for synth-rock. The next stage was glam-metal, which naturally morphed into full-on headbanger. One cannot see the light of Slayer without first burning the candle that is Poison. I then progressed to classic rock, top 40, and eventually to the point where I just listened to what I liked, regardless of what genre it might fall under. When I hit this stage, I found myself starting to listen to old Simon and Garfunkel and Cat Stevens records, shopping at Lamont's, and not letting my friends in the house anymore. I even bought tickets to the Key Arena for Neil Diamond and took my mom for her birthday, and we both sang and danced to every song I had grown up hating. Sure I brought a pistol with me, but after seeing 10,000 screaming middle-aged women, I didn't have the heart. I even find myself enjoying the new Lee Hazlewood
reissue, The Cowboy & the Lady (Smells Like), on which he and Ann-Margret sing together. I can't wait to play it for my child one day so he can hate me just as I hated my mom.
You can hear John becoming his mother on KCMU 90.3 FM Mon-Fri 6-10am and online at www.kcmu.org.