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Neil: Hi everybody. This is Neil Diamond. I’m here with Dave Wingert. I’ll be with Dave Till Dawn. Hopefully, Dave’ll get a chance to play some of my songs.
Dave: Are you kidding? Twist my arm.
Dave: Yah, Wait till you hear some of these exciting cuts from Neil’s new box set, “Stages. ” Five CD’s and one DVD…
Dave: Congratulations, you made it to Friday. And as the end of the week treat, we have the luxury of spending one-on-one time with a true legend, singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, originally… Neil Diamond’s on the phone. Neil!
Neil: Hello Dave, how are you
Dave: Whoopee, it’s so nice to talk to you.
Neil: All right. Nice to talk to you, too.
Dave: After all these years. Nice clear connection too. Where do we find you today?
Neil: Oh, I’m in my office here in L.A. My studio.
Dave: Is that home for you?
Neil:Yah, pretty much.
Dave: Well, it’s a real honor to meet you.
Neil: Well…same here.
Dave: Thank you. So…Are you well?
Neil: Very well. You know, I just finished the Stages project. I’m thankful that it’s finished and done and complete and I’m very happy with the whole thing.
Dave: Let’s talk about that because I’m holding the box set right here in my hands right here and whoever did the design of it….it’s first-rate.
Neil: All right, well thank you. I’ll pass that along.
Dave: One, two, three, four, five six CDs although one of them I understand is a DVD.
Neil: That’s right. We have one DVD of backstage shenanigans behind the scenes for about an hour and then one of performance of Ireland–some highlights. And the rest are all music. One is Christmas music that I’ve done onstage and around the world. We’ve also got the last concert that we did on this last tour. We have one of the concerts, actually in Las Vegas
Dave: Your voice…the strength of your voice just blew me away! You’ve still got it guy.
Neil: Well, Thank you. I’m happy to still be doing it. It’s been a while and I’m thrilled that I’m still out there and people are still showing up.
Dave: But does it still juice you to get on stage and sing Cracklin’ Rosie and Forever in Blue Jeans?
Neil: Absolutely. I mean it’s really the audience that gets you up and juices you…you’re resting on their shoulders. It’s always exciting. Every time it’s exciting. It’s a difference audience, different situation. I mean I’m always a little bit scared, and, you know…excited. It’s an amazing kind of a thing. You know, I’m not sure I understand it, really…but it’s wonderful to be able to do it.
“Forever In Blue Jeans” plays.
Dave: Isn’t that great? That’s a cut from Neil Diamond’s new box set. Columbia’s calling it the ultimate chronicle of Neil’s lifetime on the road. It’s five CD’s and one DVD. It’s called Stages. And it’s live performances from 1970 to 2002. And of course Neil’s my honored guest all morning long here on Dave Till Dawn. Dave till Dawn….hey you, I’m the Dave … Dave Wingert….and it’s such a luxury, such a pleasure to be sitting here sipping coffee with Neil Diamond, a true pop legend,. I’m I hope you don’t mind you calling you that.
Neil: Well, I’ll accept that. I could be called a lot of other things, so legend is fine. Call me whatever you want, but just call me.
Dave: Yah, right, don’t be afraid, you can call me. So Mr. Legend, when the staff here at the station heard that I was going to spend some time with you on the air, about a half-dozen of them said, “OH! He was in that great movie…uh, that wonderful movie….” And I said, “oh ‘The Jazz Singer?'” And they said, “No, no, no, no, no…they said, ‘Saving Silverman.'”
Neil: Right. It was a wacky movie. It was fun.
Dave: Was it?
Neil: Oh, yeah it was fun. I only worked a couple weeks on it, but the rest of the cast was terrific. It was just a wonderful group of wacky physical comics. It was a lot of fun.
Dave: That was one of Jack Black’s earlier roles. He’s certifiable.
Neil: He is. He’s a high-energy kind of guy, but really a sweet guy.
Steve Zahn, uh, you know. I just love him on the screen.
Dave: Jason Biggs….Amanda Peet.
Neil: Jason Biggs…wonderful….Amanda Peet…wonderful. It was a kick.
Dave: It’s very interesting to me that not only are you still hot, but this group Superdiamond, that goes around the country playing your hits.
Neil: Yah, isn’t that nice? These guys are out there while I’m at home working on new songs and recording in the studio and they’re out doing the work….so I’m thrilled.
Dave: So you’ve still got music in you. You’re still writing new songs.
Neil: Oh yeah. Songwriting is my thing and I finished this tour, this last tour on January…on New Year’s Eve, and I took the next day off and the next day after that I was back at writing. I didn’t expect to be, I expected to have another couple weeks off. But I was right back at it. It’s just part of me. I’ve been doing it since I was 16 years old.
Dave: And now you’re 25.
Neil: And now I’m 25, and I’m still doing it.
“Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” plays.
Dave: Isn’t that great? That’s just one of hundreds of cuts from the new deluxe box set of Neil Diamond’s live performances it’s called Stages.” Five CD’s and one DVD, which you would think it would cost an arm and a leg. I saw it at Costco the other night for like $35…$37. You might want to also try online like Amazon.com. They have good prices. But it’s a must-have for Neil Diamond fans. And of course, Neil is my extra special guest this morning here on Dave Till Dawn. I’m Dave Wingert.
Dave: Good morning, Kiddo. I’m Dave Wingert. You’re as familiar with Neil Diamond’s hits as I am, right? It’s an extra treat to find out that the man is so gracious. What a mensch he is. He’s on the phone with me this morning. We’re going to dish about Barbra Streisand in a couple of minutes—you know they go back to high school—and play Neil’s live recording of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” from his new collection of live recordings called Stages. First time it’s ever been recorded live, as a matter of fact.
Dave: Dave till Dawn. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m Dave Wingert. Here with me on the phone is a singer songwriter who’s been around a while. You’re heard of him no doubt. Neil Diamond.
Neil: Hi there, Dave.
Dave: Did I catch you mid-gulp?
Neil: Yeah, I was just taking a sip from my coke … and sorry you caught me there…. but uh, I’m back.
Dave: What keeps your voice in such great shape? I asked this may be an obvious question/answer…I asked Daryl Hall the same thing he said, “I just keep singing.”
Neil: Well, singing is definitely a form of exercise
And if you keep doing it, it’ll definitely keep the voice strong.
But uh, A lot of it is just luck. I was a heavy smoker for a lot of my life.
Dave: Shut UP! Were you really?
Neil: I was, and uh but I stopped about ten years ago. And I think that’s helped a lot. It’s kept my voice in good shape and uh my energy level at a good shape, too.
Dave: That astounds me that you were smoking up until ten years ago.
Neil: Yeah, well, it’s a nasty habit and I always smoked.
Dave: Yeah, this new box set of your live performances of yours that Columbia just put out is a treasure trove of your hits captured live. It seems like you’re on the road a lot!
Neil: Well, I like to find a balance between touring and writing and recording, so when I’m not touring, I’ll take a year–or sometimes two–and work on a new album and when I’m totally exhausted form the recording and writing, I’m ready to go back out on the road again for a year or two. So it’s worked beautifully for me–just the balance between the two.
Dave: I want to ask you if you’d mind dishing a little bit about Barbra Streisand, cause you two go back to high school.
Dave: Of course, remember when you two won the Grammy for “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the duet you did with her. Do you two keep in touch?
Neil: I haven’t spoken to Barbra in a while. But we write to each other occasionally. I’ll drop her a note…she’ll drop me a note. She’s a great lady. She’s got one of the great voices of my generation. She’s a great singer, and she’s very hard working. She’s an inspiration in that regard. She’s very focused. She works very hard in getting what she’s doing right and beautiful, and I like her very much.
Dave: I saw her on Oprah the other day, and she was saying how she doesn’t’ care to perform in front of big crowds.
Neil: Barbra’s always been very nervous in front of audiences—in front of live audiences. So, you know, I can understand that. It’s a difficult thing for her. You know, for myself, I love the experience. It’s very exciting. I look forward to it. For Barbra it’s very difficult and so I’m not surprised at all that she kind of bowed out of that area.
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” plays.
Dave: Doesn’t he sound great? Ooh! Neil Diamond recorded live from the new box set Columbia just put out called Stages Live performances recorded between 1970 and 2001 in the United States, Canada, England Ireland Australia and Germany a total of 40 numbers, more than half of which are appearing live for the first time. And of course Neil is my extra special guest this morning here on Dave till Dawn. I’m Dave Wingert.
Dave: Good morning, I’m Dave Wingert. My special guest this morning started recording hits songs in 1966 and hasn’t stopped since. Neil Diamond’s music is such an intricate part of our fabric here. We’re reminiscing this morning and talking about what he’s up to these days and playing cuts from his new box set called Stages, which is quite a collection. What a real pleasure it is getting to know singer-songwriter Neil Diamond up close and personal this morning….hey Neil.
Neil: Good Morning. How are you Dave?
Dave: Very well, and you’re sounding exceptionally well yourself.
Neil: Well, That’s always nice to hear, if you’re a singer.
Dave: Yeah. Neil just released this gorgeous box set — perfect for holiday giving. It’s called Stages. It’s live performances from 1970 to last year. It’s got all your hits from the Jazz Singer, where you got to work with, arguably, one of the finest actors of all time.
Dave: What was that like for you, working with Laurence Olivier?
Neil: That was an unbelievable experience for me. First of all, I’m not an actor. But, I mean, you have to be in awe of this man. He’s the greatest Shakespearian actor of the time. He was a fantastic man. He was very salty.
Dave: Ha, ha…was he?
Neil: It’s interesting to hear a man who’s trained in Shakespeare and hear him run off a line of curse words. I mean it’s poetry. But he was a terrific guy and he helped me a lot. I went to him on a daily basis and asked him for advice. “How do I work with this actor?” How do I read this line? What does this mean?
Dave: I just remember “Yussel, why are you doing this?”
Neil: That’s right, ha ha ha!
Dave: But your score for the movie was glorious.
Neil: Well…for me, that was the whole point of doing it. IT was just an opportunity of getting lots of music into a film, and it was a musical experience but on the way to doing that I found out some things about acting, and even about performing a song.
Dave: Well, here we are post- 9-11, and you must…it must be a chilling experience to perform America in front of a crowd these days.
Neil: Oh it is. There’s no question about it. It’s always been a crowd- pleaser, but since this 9-11 tragedy, I think it’s brought a lot of people closer to their feelings about this country and it’s been a very moving experience to see the audience react to it and to perform it myself. It’s brought new life into the song and into my performance.
Dave: And every 4th of July, whenever there are fireworks, it’s become a standard. You can’t have fireworks without having the soundtrack of Neil Diamond’s “America.”
Neil: Yah, I’ve seen that before, and that’s a kick too. I love it when they use it for that. You know, it’s the kind of things that you don’t think of when you’re writing the song. You’re into the idea of the song; you want to make it wonderful. And you just never think, well, it’s going to work beautifully for a fireworks display, or you know, it will move people 20 years after it was written in a way that you never suspected. There’s always that kind of surprise with music, and I love that. You just never know where a particular song is going to find its place.
Dave: Isn’t that great? That’s a cut from Neil Diamond’s new box set, Columbia’s calling it the ultimate chronicle of Neil’s lifetime on the road. It’s five CD’s and one DVD. It’s called Stages. And it’s live performances from 1970 to 2002. And of course, Neil’s my honored guest all morning long here on Dave Till Dawn.
Dave: Good morning, I’m Dave Wingert. When I mention the name Neil Diamond and of course at least a dozen songs come to mind instantly, right? We know his music, but we’re not that familiar with the man behind the hits. We get to spend some one-on-one time with Neil this morning. Talking about his new collection that Columbia put out — a sumptuous 6-disc set of live performances. And I’m playing some Matchbox Twenty’s “I Well for You” on our Friday Dave Till Dawn. I’ve been looking forward to this morning all week long getting to spend some one-on-one time with, well, one of the most successful and admired singer songwriters, Neil Diamond. Good morning. Thank you for the time!
Neil: Thank you Dave. I love chatting with you.
Dave: Thank you. What brought us together is this new sumptuous box set Columbia just put out–6 discs–5 CD’s and one DVD–of Neil’s live performances from 1970 through last year. The collection’s called “Stages.”
Neil: We spent about two years on the thing and pulling it together and getting it great and beautiful. There are actually about 80–or 83, actually–songs on it–performances, so….
Dave: Well, and the sonics are great and you sound terrific and there’s a certain energy that you only get in a live performance.
Neil: Yeah, you need to be in front of an audience. Somehow the adrenalin level goes up and you’re just singing better and hitting higher notes and focusing very much on the songs, and there’s nothing like a live audience to get you on the mark.
Dave: A lot of your music–so much of your music–is so visual, Neil. I want to play “Brooklyn Roads” for my listener. It was recorded back in May of 1971. Could you talk a little about it? It’s always had a special place in my heart.
Neil: It’s kind of a biographical song. IT tells a little bit about growing up in Brooklyn–my family, and my dreams and my hopes for the future. It’s one of my all time favorite songs of mine. It’s been embraced by my audience, and I love that.
“Brooklyn Roads” plays.
Dave: Isn’t that great? That’s just one of hundreds of cuts from the new deluxe box set of Neil Diamond’s live performances it’s called Stages.” Five CD’s and one DVD, which you would think it would cost an arm and a leg. I saw it at Costco the other night for like $35…or $37. You might want to also try online like Amazon.com. They have good prices. But it’s a must-have for Neil Diamond fans. And of course, Neil is my extra special guest this morning here on Dave Till Dawn. I’m Dave Wingert.
Dave: Hey you, I’m the Dave–Dave Wingert. I’ve been enjoying getting to know Neil Diamond this morning. He’s on the phone.
Neil: Good morning Dave, how are you?
Dave: I’m enormously well. Thank you. And you? You’re sounding good!
Neil: I’m great. You know, I’m just in the beginning of going out and doing some promotion for this Stages box set. And I’ve just had a couple weeks’ rest, and it’s been quite an experience. I’ve been about two years at work on this.
Dave: It’s beautifully packaged. It’s got 5 discs–five CD’s and one DVD of live performances from you from 1970 to 2000. And all the hits, of course, and you sound so great. There’s a lot of energy. The Sonics–whoever recorded these–no distortion, it’s clear as a bell–like being there!
Neil: Well, we tried.
Dave: But we noticed–correct me if I’m wrong–there’s nothing from Jonathan Livingston Seagull on this.
Neil: That’s true. JLS is a concept unto itself, and requires huge string sections and orchestras and things like that. And I’ve had parts of Jonathan on my live albums before, and a lot of the point of this particular box set was to get as many new and unreleased live performances as possible, so Jonathan didn’t make it on this.
Dave: Well, tell me, since I haven’t heard your box set Neil, tell me one of your favorite new songs that I can play for my listener.
Neil: Well, there are a lot of songs that have never been released before in live form…whether it’s a Beatles medley or Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” These things have never been out before, and there’s a bunch of those kinds of things on it.
Dave: If we came over to your house, and you said, “Look, I want you to listen to this track, this sounds really great, it’s one of my more recent songs,” which would it be?
Neil: I’d probably play the last concert, which is the Las Vegas show, and I’d start from the top of that and make you sit through the whole thing. I wouldn’t let you get away with listening to just one thing. The show was really good. There were a couple of songs in it that we did–songs like “You Are the Best Part of Me” and “I Haven’t Played This Song in Years,” which was from the last studio album I did–Three Chord Opera–which I like a lot.
Dave: This is so great, that you are so proud of your work, still and yet. I think that’s one of the definitions of success. You know that you’re still doing what you love and still excelling at it.
Neil: Well, I’m lucky. You know, I’m very lucky. I am doing what I love. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. You know, this is really all I’ve ever wanted to do.
Dave: I love that you still say “AUL.” You’ve been in Los Angeles all these years and you haven’t lost your New York accent.
Neil: Ha, ha. Right! You know yeah, I can’t really hear myself. And you know, it’s really hard to listen to my voice, but every once in a while when I’m in a recording studio, I will hear myself through the headphones and the New York accent will come out, whether I’m asking for coffee, and it sounds to me like CAUFEE, but it’s there you know? It’s part of me. I grew up in Brooklyn and that’s where my roots are, and you don’t lose that.
“Sweet Caroline” plays.
Dave: Doesn’t he sound great? Ooh! Neil Diamond recorded live from the new box set Columbia just put out called Stages–Live performances recorded between 1970 and 2001 in the United States, Canada, England Ireland Australia and Germany a total of 40 numbers, more than half of which are appearing live for the first time. And of course Neil is my extra special guest this morning here on Dave till Dawn.