Always keep a diamond in your mind.
True music freaks out there will nod their heads in recognition of the following scenario: You really love a particular chunk of music and try to introduce somebody to it. But the thing is, this somebody just can't pay attention long enough. You put the music on and a minute later the listener is asking a question about dinner plans or something. "Listen!" "But I am!" "No you're not! What's it got to do with dinner?!"
So yeah… this is the kind of relationship I've had with my sister for years. No… decades. Even though we've shared some impossibly great musical moments (Springsteen on The River tour — including the Southside Johnny cameo, two nights in a row of Kiss at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland, The Tubes on the Completion Backward Principle tour), she never really approached my level of musical obsession. It's always been sort of tough to take. In my (slightly warped) mind, there is music… and everything else. I mean, that's reality, right?
I certainly know that that's not true for the vast majority of people. After all, real life does intervene, however you choose to define 'real.' I've always known this, though in my sister's case, it always seemed to me that a person who owned records as disparate as Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Carly Simon's Hotcakes might be tuned in to a higher level of appreciation.
Ah, but that's just me projecting again. So when I recently obtained a copy of Healing the Divide, I had to dial back my enthusiasm for the brilliance of Tom Waits' "Diamond In Your Mind." My fanboy reflex wanted to push this into my sister's hands, proclaiming the goodness of Waits' distilled melancholy. But decades of experience has shown that, though she might like the tune, she wouldn't (maybe that should be couldn't) love it. She didn't have my musical 'affliction.'
And I swear, it's almost like Waits and Brennan wrote this for her:
She's got the milk of human kindness and the fat of the lamb
Scared like a baby, well she drives like a man
She lives outside of Natchez where she operates a crane
She's like a wrecking ball no longer connected to the chain
But there are details I have left out of the story. For most people, entertainment takes on a lesser role in their lives because other things take precedence: love, marriage, children, career, etc. For my sister, abusive relationships, mental illness, drug abuse, crime, and homelessness were the key factors.
A final detail: I couldn't convince Lynn of the beautiful singularity of Waits' "Diamond" because she died a couple of days ago. For most people, fifty-eight years isn't nearly enough. For my sister, it might have been too much.
Always keep a diamond in your mind…