B y now, you've probably heard that Neil Sedaka is coming to town.
And your response to that news probably falls into one of three categories:
---Who's Neil Sedaka?
---Oh yeah, I think I've heard of him; he's one of those old guys isn't he?
---Neil Sedaka? I love him. He's one of the great ones.
So it's either no news, so-so news or good news. And it almost surely depends on your age as to which response you might have had.
I'm 64. I know exactly who Sedaka is because he was a popular songwriter, musician and singer when I was a kid. So I clearly fall into category No. 3 above.
However, I work in an office filled with mostly younger people, say 25 to 45 years of age, and when Sedaka's name came up one day last week, most of them didn't have a clue who he was. A bunch of category No. 1's and 2's, I'd say.
Mostly No. 1's, who probably think there was no music in the '50s and '60s unless Elvis or The Beatles made it.
There is one young woman in the office -- age 35 or thereabouts, but I'd say a well-seasoned 35 -- I thought might know about Sedaka because she spent a lot of time hanging out with her grandmother when she was growing up.
I've never met her grandmother, but I've heard she sort of walks to the beat of her own drummer. So I figured she almost surely would have heard some Neil Sedaka songs over the years at Grandma's house. And if she heard them, she probably liked them. She's hip, but an older hip for her generation.
But no. She hadn't a clue.
So she looked up Sedaka on the Internet. And suddenly she was singing some of Sedaka's songs. Out loud. In the newsroom. That would not be allowed in some newsrooms that might be wound a little tight, but it is perfectly OK in ours. We have a lighter touch around here.
Anyway, she was singing "Calendar Girl," and in no time at all, she was singing it from memory -- "I love, I love, I love my calendar girl. Yeah, sweet calendar girl." So she had heard of Sedaka. And she had heard his music. It was starting to come back to her, bit by bit.
It did my heart good to see it.
But back to my original point -- Sedaka, 73, is coming to York. His appeal will probably be mostly us old farts who be-bopped to his music back in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and sophisticated younger folks who know good music when they hear it, no matter when it was made popular.
Sedaka will perform with the York Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., in downtown York.
Proceeds from the event will benefit all York Symphony programs, including school performances, community outreach projects and education programs.
Put simply -- in my mind, at least -- Sedaka is a music legend. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music, so he's an accomplished pianist. He's written songs that were made popular by such greats as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Connie Francis.
And he wrote and sang a bunch of teeny-bopper songs -- "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," and "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," for instance -- that dotted the Billboard charts for years.
I'm one of those category No. 3 guys. Through his music, I knew Neil Sedaka pretty well. Well enough that when someone said he was coming to York, I knew what he looked like, what he sounded like, what his instrument of preference was and the words to some of his songs, even though I hadn't heard them for maybe 35 years.
But back in the day, when I was younger and could carry a tune, I sang Sedaka songs every chance I got. I recall one time I was mowing the lawn and singing to myself and I noticed neighbors were stopped, looking at me and laughing. It didn't occur to me that I was singing so loud, trying to sing over the noise of the lawn mower I guess, I was entertaining the whole neighborhood. They were getting a free concert.
If I remember correctly, the song I was singing that day was "Love Will Keep Us Together." Forget it, I'm not singing it again.
Anyway, Elvis and The Beatles were, of course, the superstars of those years. But Sedaka, Paul Anka, Bobby Vinton, Buddy Holly, The Platters, The Drifters, Brenda Lee, The Everly Brothers, Frankie Avalon and The Supremes were in a group not too far behind.
You can probably count on one hand the number of artists from that era who still perform in public. Elvis is dead. Half of The Beatles are gone, too. Same for Buddy Holly. And most of those still living stopped singing a long time ago.
But not Sedaka.
The true legends don't come through York all that often, and when they do one needs to take advantage of the opportunity. It's not every day one gets to enjoy an artist thought of so highly he was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame (1983).
So I'll be going to the concert.
Be there or be square.
That's all I'm saying.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.