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Music Creativity in Massapequa

Diamond Wrote Lyrics While Walking Our Streets

Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond was born Jan. 24, 1941 in Coney Island. During Diamond’s youth, he spent time in Massapequa and at the south shore beaches during the summer months. It was in the early 1960s when Neil met Jaye Posner, a local school teacher. Jaye’s father operated a menswear shop in the former Bar Harbour Shopping Center. Diamond married Jaye in 1963. They had two daughters before they divorced in 1969. While they were married Neil and Jaye made their home in Massapequa’s Biltmore Shores section on Frankel Road. The one-and-a-half story wood framed home remains about the same as when the Diamonds lived in it. Some of its features include a loft-type second floor containing bedrooms, a living room with a wood burning fireplace and a finished basement where Neil did his composing. A large piano that he had built is said to be too large to be taken out and remains there. Neil played the piano while working on lyrics for his songs and music for his shows.

According to conversations with neighbors, the Diamonds were known to be very quiet and kept to themselves. Jaye, a former school teacher and homebody, enjoyed cooking. Neil could be seen walking about the neighborhood, thinking and clutching his ever-present pad, in order to jot down thoughts for song lyrics when they came to mind.

Prior to when Neil became famous, motorcycles captured his pastime. However, when he gained his fame there wasn’t much time for hobbies.

In time, he purchased an apartment in New York City and the Diamonds’ red Lincoln would only be seen in the neighborhood on weekends. Neil became very busy on the concert circuit and finally the Massapequa home was sold.

Several other families lived in the home including my neighbor’s daughter, Gayle and her husband, John, who was a Nassau County Policeman.

The music of the bass-baritone Neil Diamond, including his seemingly simple but often elusive pop ballads about loneliness, love and the healing power of song has long appealed to a large audience. Diamond’s mellow compositions with their swelling diapasons and dramatic change in tempo began insinuating themselves into the American consciousness during the 1970s with such songs as the Bubble Gum, the rocker Cherry Cherry followed by Kentucky Woman. Many of Diamond’s songs were super hits especially Sweet Caroline, his first major hit after a short slump. Diamond admitted in 2007 that he wrote the piece for Caroline Kennedy after seeing her on the cover of Life magazine in an equestrian riding outfit. It was said that it took Neil just one hour, in a Memphis hotel room, to write and compose it. In 2007, Diamond was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. On October 13, 2009, Diamond released A Cherry Cherry Christmas, his third album of holiday music.

While on a 2008 tour in Texas, Diamond wanted to view the damage Hurricane Ike had caused in that state. It is said that he was terribly upset with the damage the storm left, and he set up a charitable fund for the victims of the hurricane.

Diamond is currently living in homes in Malibu and Beverly Hills. The singer-songwriter whose psychotherapy consisted chiefly of probing the meaning of his own compositions, told Jan Hodenfield in a New York Post interview several years ago that the public too must look to his music more than to publicity if it wants to know and understand him.

Dating back to 1696 when this area was known as Fort Neck, and South Oyster Bay before the 1890 name change to Massapequa, many prominent families, radio, screen and television personalities, sports figures, and Broadway actors and actresses made Massapequa their home. When vice president (and future president) of the United States Chester A. Arthur came here to fish in the Floyd-Jones pond, he stayed in the Kilian’s Hotel that was located on Hicksville Road about where Sunrise Highway is today. With more than a dozen hotels and its scenic countryside Massapequa, from its beginning, has attracted the rich and famous from all walks of life.