Journalist Dave Barry says that the inspiration to write his Book Of Bad Songs
came from one newspaper column he had written regarding songs he didn't particularly care for, which generated such an incredible response that he knew he had tapped into a nerve. The catalyst of all of this was none other than Neil Diamond. Dave writes: "It would not trouble me if the radio totally ceased playing ballad-style songs by Neil Diamond. I realize that many of you are huge Neil Diamond fans, so let me stress that, in matters of musical taste, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and yours is wrong."
He goes on to say: "Consider the song 'I Am, I Said,' wherein Neil, with great emotion, sings: 'I am, I said, to no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair.' What kind of line is that? Is Neil telling us he's surprised that the chair didn't hear him? Maybe he expected the chair to say, 'Whoa, I heard that!' My guess is that Neil was really desperate to come up with something to rhyme with 'there' and he had already rejected 'So I ate a pear,' 'Like Smokey The Bear,' and 'There were nits in my hair.'"
The response of hate-mail was so overwhelming that he combined them all into one all-purpose-irate-Neil Diamond-fan hate letter, beginning "Dear Pukenose..."
When all was said and done, he had to write a public apology to all the Neil Diamond fans he offended: "Please stop writing! You have convinced me! Neil is a music god! I worship Neil on a daily basis at a tasteful shrine to him erected in my living room! I love ALL the songs Neil sang to us! Not to mention all the songs he brang to us!" (Thanks to Kent Kotal at the Forgotten Hits newsletter)