By Tom Blake
In 1976, Neil Diamond co-wrote the song “Dry Your Eyes,” with Robbie Robertson of The Band. Robertson was the producer of Diamond’s 1976 Beautiful Noise album, which included “Dry Your Eyes.”
Regarding the tune, the website Songfacts.com states, “In his memoir, Testimony, Robertson explained that the song was inspired by ‘how many people felt after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.’ Diamond played this live only once—at The Band’s farewell concert on November 25, 1976 in San Francisco.”
The lyrics state: “To that distant falling angel that descended much too soon.” I assume Dr. King is the falling angel.
I bought the Beautiful Noise album when it was released. My favorite song on it was “Dry Your Eyes.” But in the dozen or so Neil Diamond concerts I attended prior to 2017, he never played it.
My partner, Greta, and I attended a Hot August Night Neil Diamond concert at The Forum in Inglewood in 2017, one of Diamond’s last concerts due to his illness. We were seated in the balcony.
I was caught off guard, and my camera wasn’t on, when Diamond started singing “Dry Your Eyes.” Quickly, I turned on the video a few seconds into the song and managed to capture three minutes of him singing it, without the zoom on.
However, even from a distance, it’s the best video of Diamond singing “Dry Your Eyes” and his band playing it that I could find online. The trumpet solo is outstanding.
That night, I noticed Diamond changed the original words from “To that distant fallen angel . . .” to, “To those distant fallen angels . . .”
On Monday, June 10, the video re-entered my mind. Why? That’s the day the verdict was read in the McStay family murder trial, which had lasted five months. The family at one time had lived in San Clemente.
Joey McStay, his wife, Summer, and two young boys, Gianni and Joseph Jr., are the family of four who were found buried in shallow graves near Victorville on Nov. 13, 2013, having been bludgeoned to death. They’d been missing since February 2010.
This January, when the murder trial started, I wrote a column in this paper titled, “The McStay Family Deserves Closure,” which explained my connection to Joey. He had been my stepson for six years in the late 1980s.
That article also described what my ex-wife, Susan, Joey’s mother, and my other former stepson, Mikey, had been through over the past nine years.
On that Monday, I wanted to hear the trial verdict the moment it was announced. I couldn’t get it on live TV, or online, so I turned on my car radio to KNX and sat outside our Dana Point home until I heard the news. It’s the same home where Joey, Mikey, and Susan lived with me for six years.
While sitting there, I thought about the “Dry Your Eyes” lyrics. It occurred to me that the McStays were four distant fallen angels who descended much too soon; I decided to post the video to YouTube.
A verdict was reached: Chase Merritt, a former business partner of Joey’s, was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. There remain many unanswered questions about the case, and as of this writing, the sentencing phase is ongoing.
Did the verdict bring closure to Susan, Mikey and Joey’s father, Patrick? In a way, perhaps. But how will they ever forget what happened? ”Closure” wasn’t the correct word for me to use in that January article.
According to a June 11, 2019 Los Angeles Times article, by Alene Tchekmedyian, as Susan left the courtroom, she mentioned to a woman, “It’s over.” So, maybe “over” would be a better word choice than closure.
But, now that the verdict is in, somewhat ending the nine-year ordeal that Joey’s and Summer’s families have gone through, perhaps those family members will be able to start drying their eyes.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. See his websites findingloveafter50.com; www.vicsta.com and www.travelafter55.com. To receive Tom’s weekly online newsletter, sign up at www.findingloveafter50.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.