Lessons to be learned from The Jazz Singer

When I was a very small child, any time I saw Neil Diamond on television or heard him on the radio, I would say, “Daddy! The Jazz Singer!” I think for the longest time I thought Neil Diamond’s name was Jazz Singer. I don’t really remember watching the movie. I mean, it came out in 1980. I’m 30 years old. But I remember that glittery blue shirt and scarf he wore at the end of the movie when he sang, “America.”  And he seemed to mean every word. In my book it’s America’s song. Or should be. I know this movie is a remake, but who knows much about the 1927 version? OK. That’s a lie. Al Jolson in black face…

But if you don’t know the 1980 movie, here is the long and the short of it: Jewish cantor living in New York sets out, against his traditional father’s wishes, to achieve his dream of being a singer. It’s such a basic plot, but something about it rings so true of lessons we should learn of tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness and being true to yourself. Maybe it’s female hormones, but I’ve just finished watching it on this lovely Sunday evening and balled my eyes out. Oh my goodness, when Neil’s character tries to set things right with his father by singing on  Yom Kippur (the day atonement) and hearing the power of those words I don’t even understand and his father’s expression along with his — oye, I’m getting vaclemped. Talk amongst yourselves while I collect myself. Topic: 2008’s choices of vice-president candidates and potential reality shows about them…

OK…I’m alright. If you haven’t seen it, all of this may seem silly. Actually if you have, I may still seem a little odd and blogging about it probably is odd. It’s just that it brought me back to being that silly little kid who ran after her father and spent Saturdays digging in the backyard for “fossils.” Things were not always simple back then, but the complexity of my life in those impressionable years was minimal. And looking at today’s world, the 80s had more than their share of, should I say, hiccups? But the place we are now scares the crap out of me. Maybe at the brink of when The Jazz Singer came out in theaters, words like tolerance and acceptance were still new and truly mattered. But today they can be, at times, stifled. Sure. We are in a new world where a black man or a woman can be president, but I find the fact that these two things are so landmark has exposed to the world how much we are still so behind in our thinking.

If we were ahead, these things maybe wouldn’t matter so much or be so landmark. Ok. Thinking about that after crying over The Jazz Singer might very well be very, very odd. Now all I need is ice-cream, a DVD of the last season of Sex and the City and a fuzzy white robe and I’m all set for estrogen-land.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Neil Diamond recently played Boston. You know your career is over when you play “Sweet Caroline” three times at the same concert. Boo.

    Reply

  2. I read this post purely for the Neil Diamond reference — being a loyal fan. But I found your content to be refreshing beyond that. I’m a little older than you are, but I also remember this movie’s release. It seem to be a simpler time in many ways. I find it discouraging that we still grapple with issues in the 21st Century that should be little more than chapters in our history books by now.

    Reply

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