Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Wherein I connect Edward Hopper with Neil Diamond -- trust me!

Edward Hopper's "A Room in Brooklyn" (1932) came to me courtesy of my friend Adrian Rice. My first reaction was, "Wow! Here's a view of some row houses seen from a bay window, just as I have from mine here in Brooklyn." I've long been a Hopper fan, and eagerly await a visit to "Hopper in New York" at the Whitney Museum.  

In accordance with my love for connecting visual arts with music -- see here and here -- the painting immediately brought to mind a song I first heard on the radio some time around 1968 to '69, Neil Diamond's  "Brooklyn Roads":

The odd thing is, when I first heard the song, I understood the title to be "Brooklyn Rows". I knew that Brooklyn, like Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was at the time, was characterized by row houses. Besides, "rows" was a perfect rhyme with "those", which ends the preceding line. Also, "rows" is the way he sings it, with no noticeable "d" at the end of the line.

What I think happened was that someone at MCA, Neil Diamond's label at the time, thought that "Brooklyn Rows" would sound odd to the suburban detached houses or college dorms audience to whom the song would be pitched, so changed it to "Brooklyn Roads." This wouldn't be the first (or certainly last) time a record company exec would change a song's lyrics; consider how I think Columbia Records changed the Byrds' version of Welsh poet Idris Davies' "The Bells of Rhymney".