Shine On, You Crazy Neil Diamond

Aug 16, 2019

Upon the news that a Neil Diamond musical is in development, guest musician Julian Velard jumps into action with a music parody reworking Neil Diamond hits to make them about other real people with Broadway musicals based on them.

Heard on Antoni Porowski: Queer Eye For The Quiz Guy.

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CECIL BALDWIN: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Cecil Baldwin, with guest musician Julian Velard. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(CHEERING)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thank you, Cecil. Before the break, we met our contestants Alex and Nolan. Our next game is about Neil Diamond.

BALDWIN: Oh.

EISENBERG: You know that song "Sweet Caroline"?

BALDWIN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Caroline's last name was actually (singing) ba-ba-ba (ph), so good, so good, so good. (Laughter) Let's check in with them. Alex, you have two cats.

ALEX SMAILES: Mmm hmm.

EISENBERG: But you've decided not to name them.

SMAILES: This is a real point of contention with people.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yes.

SMAILES: (Laughter) I don't think cats have like a sense of identity like dogs do. I know. I'm going to get it (laughter).

(LAUGHTER)

SMAILES: It's really become more of a choose your own name when my friends come over, so they've all named my cats different things. And so it's more of a fun thing now than...

EISENBERG: And none of them to you have stuck? You've never been like, you are definitely a Marvin (ph)?

SMAILES: Actually, Jeff (ph) and Marcia (ph) is a actual name pair for them. But no, none have stuck.

BALDWIN: That's very Holly Golightly of you.

EISENBERG: Yeah, no kidding.

SMAILES: Thank you (laughter).

EISENBERG: Nolan, you have a - your family's Irish, and you are very into a yearly St. Patrick's Day parade. Why?

NOLAN BOGGESS: Yeah. So literally, like, a few weeks after I was born, I was carried in the St. Patrick's Day parade that's been important - so it's in the Quad Cities, Iowa.

EISENBERG: OK.

BOGGESS: I'm in Iowa. Yeah, I'm from Iowa. It's actually, I think, the only parade that I know of that crosses from one state into another. So we begin in Illinois. And we, like, for a large part of it, we're on the freezing cold, like, bridge crossing the Mississippi. And then we go back down to the people. But, like, for a large, like, 20 minutes of the parade...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

BOGGESS: ...We're just cold on a bridge.

EISENBERG: And you do this with your family every year?

BOGGESS: Yes, and I love it. Yes.

EISENBERG: Yeah, I like it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Julian, it was recently announced there's a Neil Diamond Broadway musical in development.

JULIAN VELARD: I'm excited, Ophira.

EISENBERG: Because you're a big Neil Diamond fan, right?

VELARD: I am. I love Neil Diamond. He is all the things that I want to be.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Like what? What are...

VELARD: Like, he is fearless...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

VELARD: ...And boldly Jewish.

EISENBERG: Boldly Jewish.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: In this music parody, I'm going to sing classic Neil Diamond songs rewritten to be about other real people who've been the subject of biographical Broadway musicals.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: It's a high-concept game - high-concept.

EISENBERG: Nolan is going, yes, and Alex is like, not going to be OK.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: So ring in and tell me the real person - not necessarily the musical - but the real person that I'm singing about. If you get that right, for a bonus point, you can name the Neil Diamond song.

EISENBERG: Alex, stay in the lead, and you are off to the final round. Nolan, you need to get more points, or you'll find out that your Neil Diamond is just Neil cubic zirconia.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I know. I know.

VELARD: You guys ready?

BOGGESS: Yeah.

VELARD: (Singing) He was number 42. He broke the color barrier. He wore Brooklyn's white and blue. He broke the color barrier.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

VELARD: Alex.

SMAILES: I want to say Hank Aaron.

VELARD: I'm afraid that is incorrect.

SMAILES: Picked up on that (laughter).

VELARD: Incorrect, Alex.

EISENBERG: The crowd is so disappointed.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It's OK. It's OK.

VELARD: Nolan, can you steal?

BOGGESS: Is it Jackie Robinson?

VELARD: You are correct.

(CHEERING)

VELARD: It's Jackie Robinson. And the musical about his life is called "The First." For a bonus point, can you name the Neil Diamond song?

BOGGESS: "America."

VELARD: You are also correct.

(APPLAUSE)

VELARD: Well done. (Singing) "MacArthur Park," "Dim All The Lights," "Hot Stuff" and "Last Dance" played on long disco nights. Worked hard for the cash. And his songs were all a smash. She felt love.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

VELARD: Nolan.

BOGGESS: Is it Donna Summer?

VELARD: You are correct.

(CHEERING)

VELARD: The musical about her life is "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical." For a bonus point, can you name the Neil Diamond song?

BOGGESS: "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore" (ph).

EISENBERG: No.

BOGGESS: I don't know. Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: I know. That song is "Love On The Rocks."

BOGGESS: All right.

EISENBERG: "Love On The Rocks."

VELARD: All right. Here we go. Another - another Neil Diamond song. (Singing) Not JFK or Newark, mayor. Sorry your airport does irk. Of the corrupt, made short work. Not JFK or Newark.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

VELARD: Nolan.

BOGGESS: LaGuardia?

VELARD: You are correct.

(APPLAUSE)

VELARD: Fiorello LaGuardia, former mayor of New York City. And the musical about his life is the musical "Fiorello!" with an exclamation point. Can you, for a bonus point, name the song?

BOGGESS: "Believer" (ph). I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: No, that is actually the song "Cherry, Cherry." All right. Here's the next one. (Singing) Hey, first lady, sing your song. Not going to cry because you said I shouldn't moan, Patti LuPone. This Rose, she don't. You were the darling of Argentina.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

VELARD: Nolan.

BOGGESS: Eva Peron. "Evita?"

VELARD: "Evita," yes. Yes, "Evita."

BOGGESS: Yeah. Right? Right? Eva Peron? OK.

VELARD: You are correct. Eva Peron.

EISENBERG: The whole thing is right.

VELARD: And can you guess the Neil Diamond song?

EISENBERG: I know you can.

BOGGESS: "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore"?

EISENBERG: Oh.

BOGGESS: No.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: You are not correct again about the Neil Diamond song.

BOGGESS: Great.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: That is actually "Cracklin' Rosie."

BOGGESS: Cool.

VELARD: All right. This is your last clue.

(Singing) I am the tramp with baggy pants, in silent films, the victims of circumstances.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

VELARD: Alex.

SMAILES: I'm going to say The Jets from "West Side Story." I really don't know anything about musicals.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: Are you referring to "West Side Story" or The Jets?

SMAILES: Mmm hmm.

VELARD: No, that is not correct. Can you steal, Nolan?

BOGGESS: Charlie Chaplin from "Chaplin?"

VELARD: You are correct, Nolan. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

VELARD: And for a bonus point, can you name the Neil Diamond song?

BOGGESS: You know, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore."

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: Song is actually called "You Don't Bring Me Flowers." There is no anymore in the title.

BOGGESS: Oh, I'm so sorry. So sorry. Great.

(LAUGHTER)

VELARD: I just want to - let's just be clear, if you're going to say it that many times.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Wow.

VELARD: I know people in this room...

EISENBERG: This is the angriest I've ever seen Julian Velard.

(LAUGHTER)

BOGGESS: That's - hey. Neil Diamond fan forever, right? (Laughter).

VELARD: No, that song is "I Am... I Said."

BOGGESS: Oh, I've heard of that.

VELARD: Cecil, who won that game?

BALDWIN: After two games, Nolan is moving on to the final round.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.