Neil (Leslie) Diamond Paul Kresh - Essay

Paul Kresh

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The best thing about [the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull] … is Neil Diamond's score, and the Columbia recording of the original soundtrack … is thus a lot easier to take than the movie for which it was prepared.

Mr. Diamond, who recently has delved into soft rock, blues, gospel, country music, and soul since his emergence as a rock superstar a few years ago, supplies a kind of contemporary tone poem that captures the serenity of the scene from the earliest chords, and manages to blend an up-to-date idiom with an impressionistic feeling for the moods of weather and rock seascapes, summoning a suggestive power that enables this music to stand on its own. There are also a number of songs like Be and Skybird and Lonely Looking Sky that attempt to translate the ideas of the story into folk-musical terms and do succeed in conveying a wide-sky, windswept mood despite lyrics that seem to draw their inspiration more from Hallmark than from nature. In addition, there is a frankly religious "anthem" with lyrics consisting entirely of such words as "sanctus" and "kyrie" and "gloria." The anthem's controlled exaltation speaks well for Diamond's taste and inventiveness: I have never heard a children's chorus intoning popular music less objectionably.

Paul Kresh, "Jonathan Livingston Popstar," in Stereo Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, February, 1974, p. 94.∗