Confession time.. I’m a big Neil Sedaka fan. We all have our guilty pleasures and secret shames, this is one of mine. Is he a bit campy? Yes. Yet in this case, campy works. It sometimes serves to torture those around me, but my playlist is heavily littered with the work of Neil Sedaka.
A highly successful singer and songwriter, his music serves as an excellent pop contrast to some of the more edgy, guitar-based rock and roll of the time, and is another time-stamp and representation of the light pop hits of the late 1950s and early 1960s. On this first album, “Rock with Sedaka”, which in itself is quite the title, some of his powerhouse hits include “Stupid Cupid”, “Crying My Heart Out for You”, “Oh! Carol”, “Stairway to Heaven”, which Neil will remind you is NOT the Stairway to Heaven performed by Led Zeppelin, and my personal favorite from this album, “Calendar Girl”. I looked and listened ahead to his next release to find two more of my all-time favorites, “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen” and “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” Love him or not, this guy knows how to write a catchy hook. Just ask the Captain and Tennille, who owe their biggest hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” to Mr. Sedaka. At least Toni proudly sang, “Sedaka is God!” at the end of that song.. and for writing really contagious two-minute pop songs, he certainly is from above.
As I listen to my favorite Neil Sedaka songs in the context of this journey, I recognize now how similar in sound his early music was to the recently discussed Everly Brothers. The major differences are that Neil sings both parts of his two-part harmony, and his music is more piano-based versus the acoustic guitars deployed by The Everly Brothers. It may continue to garner me some odd looks from those around me, but the Neil Sedaka collection is here to stay on my playlist. Somewhere I hear Laughter In The Rain… and hopefully you will as well.