For Valentine’s Day, we have tickets to the Neil Diamond tribute show at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame starring Jay White.

Jay White I don’t know; but Neil Diamond — who doesn’t know Neil Diamond? Listen to “Something Blue” and if you’re not singing your head off after the first chorus, I’m ordering a full body scan to make sure you have something inside besides ice water and chewing gum.

“Sweet Caroline,” “I Am ... I Said,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Show,” “Solitary Man,” and did you know Diamond wrote “Red, Red Wine,” one of the catchiest reggae songs of all time?

Give up. You like him. I like him. Everybody likes him.

Here’s the catch and it’s not a big one. Neil Diamond is 77. He may be a young 77, a springy 77, a cheery 77, but he’s 77.

We should all be 77, some of us are, if we’re lucky, some of us will be and there is nothing wrong with 77, but I’ve made a decision: I’m going to nothing but tribute shows because everybody I like is aging out.

Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt are 69, Emmylou Harris is 71, Mick Jagger is 75, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon are 76 and Harry Belafonte is 91.

It’s going to get worse. A few years from now, do you want to see an 85-year-old James Taylor sing “You’ve Got a Friend.” We do have a friend and it’s not Father Time.

Talk to Kyle Carter, co-owner of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. He’s scheduling nothing but tribute shows this year: Elton John, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones (by the Hollywood Stones), the Eagles, The Beatles, Journey and The Doors.

Tribute people are cheaper than the real people. Close your eyes and who can tell the difference anyway? Open your eyes if you must and if you do, you have the younger, friskier version. Neil will never look better.

This is bigger than just music. Something we could all benefit from should our brand be getting a little tired, and I don’t know anybody’s who isn’t.

People are tired and their brand is tired.

Start with me. I’ve decided I’m going to hire a Herb Benham tribute person. This will work on multiple platforms, “platforms” being the sort of word of which brand people are fond.

Rather than use my column picture from 20 years ago because of some desperate desire to hold onto 40, I’ll have a much younger and better looking look-alike. As long as he has fair to average writing skills, he’ll do. I can deploy Tribute Herb for any public appearances that I may have, and I don’t have many, and send him to Smart & Final when I’m out of cranberry juice.

Tribute Herb can freshen up the column and put an edgy, youthful spin on it. It will be like having a stunt double, one that can still do somersaults and make it all the way over without risking paralysis.

People will be delighted — my employers, my friends and even my wife. Consider it a gift. My tribute to you.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.

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