My people in Iowa

My week of vacation started with Dionne Warwick on Monday night, then Kid Rock on Tuesday night.

It ended Saturday night with still another American pop icon, another underappreciated national treasure. We drove to east-central Iowa, to a new casino out in the middle of farmland, to see Neil Sedaka.

My reasons for wanting to see Sedaka were much the same as for wanting to see Warwick. Neither tours much, at least here in the States. Neither will tour forever. Their songs were among my earliest favorites.

So we enjoyed an evening with one of America’s greatest songwriters. Sedaka remains a fine singer and an even better pianist. At 69, he’s energetic and engaging on stage, and is more than willing to poke fun at his image as a lightweight.

Case in point: He good-naturedly showed the following Scopitone clip, which was filmed in Italy in 1961, calling it “the first music video.”

It was a mostly older crowd. We’re 50, and we were among the youngest, save for the … uh … trophy date sitting nearby. To say Sedaka was warmly received would be an understatement. It was a lovefest. Sedaka repeatedly bowed, acknowledging “my people in Iowa” and blowing kisses.

It’s that way all over the world. A week earlier, Sedaka performed in Manila, and it was almost exactly the same.

As Dionne Warwick did earlier in the week, Sedaka played almost everything you’d hope to hear during his 90-minute show in Iowa. He tore right into it with an ever-so-slightly funked-up version of this one:

“Bad Blood,” Neil Sedaka, 1975, from “Neil Sedaka’s Greatest Hits,” 1977. That’s Elton John singing harmony. The album — which gathers Sedaka’s mid-’70s hits — is out print, but the tune is available on “Neil Sedaka: The Definitive Collection,” a 2007 CD release.

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Filed under May 2008, Sounds

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