July 14, 2024

Neil Diamond’s teenage obsessions: ‘The Brooklyn Dodgers betrayed me and broke my heart’

Brooklyn Dodgers

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and for me the most important aspect of growing up there was the Dodgers baseball team. Everybody in Brooklyn loved the Dodgers. They were the underdog but we were loyal. I followed the games closely, with dreams that they would win the World Series and be recognised as the champions I knew they were.

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That day finally came in 1955 when I was 14. The Dodgers won the World Series! We shouted from the windows of our apartment and Brooklynites filled the streets in celebration, but it was short-lived. Just about the worst thing that could possibly happen to a 14-year-old boy happened: after their big win, the Brooklyn Dodgers had the audacity to turn their backs on us loyal fans, move to California and become the Los Angeles Dodgers. I felt betrayed. My heart was broken and I went into a teenage depression. My parents were so worried about me they knew they had to do something to help me out of my slump. They bought me my first guitar for $10 and paid it off a dollar a week. I picked up that guitar and my life was for ever changed. Thank goodness the Dodgers left Brooklyn and broke my heart because otherwise I may never have picked up a guitar.

Hit Parader magazine

When I was a teenager, Hit Parader brought all the newest music and lyrics to us anxious kids who followed the musical developments of the day. Memorising those lyrics was the beginning of my education in music, and I sang along with them while I worked at my parent’s little haberdashery shop. Music poured out of every nook and cranny of the New York streets I grew up on. Without Hit Parader I would have felt lost. Sixty years later, every now and then my wife surprises me with old issues she finds on the internet – it brings me right back to the floor of my tiny bedroom in our apartment, where I’d absorb all those lyrics and photos and details. Kids today can find lyrics to any song with the press of a button – they’ll never know the thrill of waiting anxiously and finally receiving that gift in the mailbox.

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