Fifty reasons why Rosie would have crackled

Close personal friend, let's just call her Rosie, if for no other reason than that is her name.

Rosie did not go to the Neil Diamond concert at the stadium.

Strange.

If I had a name that was in the title of arguably Neil Diamond's most rousing drinking anthem, Cracklin' Rosie, I would have bought a ticket in the very front row.

Cracklin' Roy.

I know it doesn't sound right, but there are some pretty weird song titles out there.

Neil, had he been forewarned by the media, would have looked down upon the front row and roared - ''ROY! Are you CRACKLIN'?''

And I would have shouted back, had there been such a song and had Neil been so primed: ''Neil, bro', mate, eyze cracklin' like bacon on a barbecue!''

And Neil would have done that pointed finger thing stars do and steamed into that unstoppable song.

What a moment for me that might have been.

But then again ...

Paul Simon had a line in 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover which went ''You don't need to be coy, Roy'', and I have been annually humiliated by that for the past 40 years as this very line has won the World Health Organisation award for Worst Line In Popular Music every damn year.

Writer and former Chill Peter Allison even used this as a chapter heading in a Chills story for Metro magazine when introducing some psychobabble I had come up with on the band (the new album Silver Bullets, incidentally, is very fine).

It's not easy being in a song title. The grandson Jude gets it every time I welcome him.

''Hey Jude!''

I shout, and then go into a body-twisting move involving air guitar and Paul McCartney's singing mouth, you know, that ovular one, where he looks like he is trying to swallow a cucumber.

''Is there a Ruby in the house?''

Neil Diamond might well have asked.

A tiny voice might have squeaked from the very back of the cheap seats - ''Yes, over here!''.

And Neil might have then said, ''There is? Well, Rubes, we're having a little thing backstage after the show, some drinkees, whitebait patties. I know the Octagon will be Party Central, but, Ruby, don't take your love to TOWN!''

Drum roll, audience groan, Ruby's tiny cheeks fire engine red.

Or when Neil was building the gospel fire of Soolaimon or Holly Holy, and might have momentarily forgot his words, not that Holly Holy is that hard to remember, but the man is 74.

''There must be a Rhonda in this beautiful Dunedin crowd?'' ''Yes! Yes! Yes!'' comes an inebriated yelp from the bar.

''Help me Rhonda,'' Neil might have pleaded and Rhonda might well have called out ''Holly Holy Lo-or-d!'' and the concert would have been back on track and Rhonda would have a moment she would never forget, thought she probably would forget it, because remember, she was well trolleyed at the bar, and actually thought it was still the stadium's Aerosmith concert.

Or, finally, Neil might have gone into one of those drawn-out audience dialogue things stars do when they're getting a bit tired and their chest is heaving from the previous song, especially if it was Holly Holy - ''Is there a Lucy out there?''

''YEEEAAAHHHHHH!!!!'' might have come the inevitable cry.

''Lucy, are you having a good time? Are you FLYING?''

And little coy princess Lucy grins widely, flaps her arms like a Portobello albatross, and replies, coyly, so coyly Neil doesn't hear her.

''What did you say?'' he asks, cupping hand to ear.

''I AM, I said,'' says Lucy.

''I LOVED Holly Holy.''

At which Neil would draw himself up to his very fullest height, like he looks on the cover of the Hot August Night double album, my God, what an album that was, and drawls deeply into a very expensive microphone the size of Paul McCartney's cucumber.

''That's because, Lucy, you are in the sky with Diamond!''

The Beatle Boomers roar like wild dogs.

Neil Diamond!

Rosie should have gone.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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