AS WITH hearing “here’s the bass solo”, the news that an artist is doing an album of covers is generally a sign that fans can take a break for a while, safe in the knowledge that this will be a space filler – probably good but not essential….
Neil Diamond got his start as a Brill Building songwriter, writing “I’m A Believer” for the Monkees, among many other hits. His own career launched in 1966 with instant classics “Solitary Man” and “Cherry Cherry.” By the early 1970s he was one of the most popular live acts on the road, a role he’s maintained for the last four decades….
NEIL Diamond, 70 next January, is talking about a life on the road. There were the 1960s, when he toured America with The Who. The 70s, when he was an arena-filling phenomenon across the US. The 80s, when British royalty came calling….
Given his role as one of pop’s most respected songwriters, Neil Diamond might be expected to fill a covers album with underappreciated obscurities by tunesmiths less highly regarded than he. Well, perhaps next time….
Mrs. Rose Diamond, a small, sprightly, smiley 92-year-old, asks if I’d like some corn on the cob. Her son, sitting next to her, wonders if I’m enjoying my hotdogs. Outside, the bottom of the garden is being pounded by the Malibu surf….
“Girl if it lasts for an hour, that’s all right/ We got all night/ To set the world right,” hollers Neil Diamond, grinning.
Uplifting sauciness doesn’t get any finer than “Cracklin’ Rosie” and the singer’s Electric Proms rendition is almost as exquisite as his live performance on Hot August Night; a double album from 1972 which features on its cover a sweaty, wild-haired and denim-clad Diamond, his hand hanging perilously close to his crotch. Here, the 69-year-old New Yorker is sweat free, neatly trimmed and dressed in black. He keeps his hands above board – indeed they’re reaching out, touching me, touching you….
HE HAS millions of fans around the world, but iconic singer-songwriter Neil Diamond tells Charlotte Heathcote his success has mean sacrificing relationships in order to write great songs.
You don’t get to be the third biggest recording artist in history without making some sacrifices along the way….
Critics know him as one of the most reflective and sombre artists in the business, a singer-songwriter with no lightness and very little sense of irony. But he’s been packing out stadiums since the early 1970s, and his first tour to South Africa in April 2011 will be amongst the biggest the country has yet seen….
Iconic older singers do good business with covers and standards these days. There are a few different approaches….
Neil Diamond is living the dream.
“To write the music that I feel, and to be as honest as I possibly can be in that music, and to hopefully have people share the experience of that music — that has always been my dream,” explains the singer-songwriter, his instantly recognizable baritone rumbling down the line from his New York City home. “My dream is already being fulfilled and I’m going to take full advantage of it as long as I’m around.”
But for his latest album, the self-professed “Jewish Elvis” is taking advantage of a few other songwriters’ output….