Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Chair Song

I am I cried.

I am, said I.

And there was no one there – not   even  the  chair.

Neil Diamond.  Ahhh.  When my parents invited us to go to a Neil Diamond concert with them in the early 90s, that’s the song that played in my head.  “THE CHAIR song” I called it, and the lyrics above are how I heard it.  Of course, I also hummed “Coming to America”, but it was "The Chair Song" that drew me in.  It was the one I remembered playing over and over on the 8 track player in the big wooden record player/8 track player combo piece of furniture in our formal living room.  So, while Neil Diamond wasn’t on the top of my age 20-something playlist, I figured it would be a fun night and a good adventure with my parents.

So all night we sat with them in the auditorium, which was packed with “old people” their age, as I secretly waited for the song I found so funny and unintelligible.  Was it a love song to a chair?  A chair anthem?  What WAS it exactly??  My parents didn’t know that I quietly looked down on “The Chair Song”;  that I thought it was a ridiculous tune with even more mock able lyrics.  I was young and cocky and somehow “above” “The Chair Song”, but I tried not to let it show. 

Neil sang his catalog of classics, “Love on the Rocks”, “Cracklin’ Rosie”, etc, but NO “CHAIR SONG”.  As the night grew on, I needed to use the restroom but didn’t dare.  What if the moment I excused myself was when he pulled out all the stops and plunged into “I AMMMM I CRIED!!!!”?  But after a while I simply HAD to go to the restroom, so my boyfriend walked out in the hallway with me.  And as I stepped out of the bathroom, I heard it.  THE ANTHEM.  THE BALLAD.  “THE CHAIR SONG”!!!

We literally ran back into the auditorium.  I remember we didn’t have time to get to our assigned seats, so we listened to the song standing at the top of an aisle.  Neil sang it in all its’ glory.  And while I planned to mock, I couldn’t.  Because it was lovely.  There was a huge sea of humanity all intently listening to a song about a chair.  And he was singing it with all his heart even though he had surely sung it a million times before.  So instead of mocking, I cried.  Just a tear or two.  Maybe I understood at that moment that this was my mother’s music.  And I made it mine.

That was before the internet – where we could watch YouTube videos any time of the day or night and pull up song lyrics and see what exactly the singers are saying.  I guess now that I CAN, I should.  I hope it doesn’t ruin the magic of that night.  Thanks Neil – and thanks Mom and Dad.

Video of live performance with lyrics as subtitles:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf1S9U2ghrI&feature=related

Lyrics:  “I Am…I Said” by Neil Diamond

L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow, and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about
Making my way back
Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more

I am, I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am, I cried
I am, said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
I you talk about me, the story's the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried, but it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared for the sound of being alone

I am, I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am, I cried
I am, said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still


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