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DELILAH: Is this Neil?
NEIL: Yes, Delilah. How are you doing?
DELILAH: How are you?
NEIL: Oh, great! Just hanging out here, kicking back a little bit.
DELILAH: Haven’t talked to you in a couple of years. Thank you for taking time to hang out with us.
NEIL: Oh I’m thrilled to do it.
DELILAH: How are the girls?
NEIL: The girls? You mean my dogs?
DELILAH: No, your daughters.
NEIL: Oh (laughing), my daughters!
DELILAH: The ones that all start with “N.”
NEIL: OK, my daughters are great, I have two of them and I have two sons. And they are all healthy and happy and…you know… they’re good kids and they’re doing great.
DELILAH: See, last time we talked your daughters were in love or out of love or being broken up love…something like that.
NEIL: Well, you know my youngest daughter is getting married in about three weeks. You know I guess that’s love and (laughing)…
DELILAH: And are you giving her away or singing at the wedding?
NEIL: Well, I am going to give her away and I don’t know… maybe I’ll sing a little bit. Whatever the bride requests.
DELILAH: Can you imagine (laughs)! “You want to come to my wedding? My Dad’s singing for me, Oh, by the way… my Dad’s Neil Diamond.”
NEIL: Well she doesn’t mention that around, I mean we don’t want that to get around.
DELILAH: OK, it’ll be our little secret!
NEIL: That’s what it is!
DELILAH: So congratulations!
NEIL: Thank you so much, It’s a nice…it’s a nice feeling to walk your kid down the aisle. She’s happy as can be.
DELILAH: And a nice guy?
NEIL: Very nice guy!
DELILAH: Not a musician?
NEIL: No, thank goodness! Unfortunately, he’s a producer…a movie producer. I won’t hold that against him.
DELILAH: Well that’s not quite as transient as a musician.
NEIL: It’s true. I mean the movie business is little bit different. But, generally with show business jobs… they’re pretty transient.
DELILAH: Nobody, Neil, has been as transient as you in your career.
NEIL: Well, that may be true. I’ve been busy and I’ve been traveling.
DELILAH: Thirty some odd years you’ve been traveling.
NEIL: They’ve been odd years. That’s for sure!
NEIL: Thirty-seven…thirty-eight years…something like that.
DELILAH: How old were you when you picked up the guitar? You started playing music when you were really young didn’t you?
NEIL: I started when I was about sixteen. I took some lessons, I loved it and pretty soon after that I started writing songs and I’ve been writing since then. So it’s been’ quite a journey for me.
(“Hello Again” is played.)
DELILAH: Neil Diamond is on the phone line tonight. Neil, thank you so much for taking time to call us. We were talking about your music and the way it’s evolved. So who or what biggest musical inspiration? What inspires you the most?
NEIL: Well, now it’s just the music itself. You know I can sit down with the guitar and start playing and something comes to mind… an emotional feeling… a story… ideas… song idea. I mean the music is what starts it all. When I first began… when I was a kid… I played a lot of folk music. I loved the Weavers. They were a very popular group at that time. I learned all of their stuff. I got their records. I played along with them… learned all the chords. You know they were like my pals… really! That started me off.
DELILAH: So now you’ve got quite a project in the works that hopefully Mr. B here in the office has a copy of. But, Janey and I were just saying “Man, do we have to wait until the release date to get our own copy of Stages?”
NEIL: Oh, my goodness! We’ll… I think it’s gonna be in stores pretty quick.
DELILAH: So you’re saying “Yes, go to the store. Wait, D. You’re gonna have to just wait and get your own copy?”
NEIL: Well, we can arrange a copy for you.
DELILAH: ‘Cause this is like a huge project…
NEIL: It was enormous. I had no idea how big it would be. I just thought, “Let me get all the tapes and recordings of performances over the years, and get them together, and pull them out of the basement and out of the attic… out of the archives and the warehouse… and see what I have.” And it became an enormous thing because there were hundreds of performances that were recorded. I wanted to take the best performances of the songs and try to get as many songs that have never been released on live album before. It was enormous. It’s five discs of music. And then we did the DVD which is behind the scenes documentary of the show. And I’m very thankful that it’s over and I don’t have to do it again. It’s finished. It’s beautiful, and you know, it’s done!
(“Forever In Blue Jeans” is played)
DELILAH: Neil Diamond, thank you so much for spending time with us tonight. Let me ask you this… so you enjoy the finished project more than the creative process? No, you don’t ’cause you know what? I know having talked to you in the past and having followed your career. ‘Cause you’ve been singing as long as I’ve been in radio. As soon as this is put to rest and you take a week or two to chill, you go to your daughter’s wedding, Guess what you’re gonna do?
NEIL: Ya! I’m gonna…
DELILAH: You’re gonna wake up one night like four o’clock in the morning or you’re gonna stay up all night, because you always stay up all night. And you’re gonna get this “Divine Inspiration” and you’re gonna go back to Broadway, or you’re gonna do another movie, or you are going to do “The Jazz Singer 2,” or you’re gonna do something enormous.
NEIL: Well, I hope it’s enormous. But, you’re absolutely right. You know I can’t sit.
DELILAH: You can NOT create.
NEIL: I can NOT work. That’s true!
DELILAH: It’s just not work, You, Neil… you are a performer among performers. You create beauty, and music, and excitement, and passion in all that you do.
NEIL: WOW! Thank you very much. That’s beautiful! You know, I’m still working at it. I want to continue to make music, and I want to make records, and write songs. You’re absolutely right. Take a week off after I finish a project that is a year and a half or two years in the making. You go right back to it. It’s wonderful and it’s horrible at the same time.
DELILAH: We’ll be back to continue our conversation with Neil Diamond in just a moment.
DELILAH: Neil Diamond is with us on the phone tonight. Let’s pick up that conversation where we left off. It’s confession session. What’s the one thing that your listeners… your fans would never believe that Neil Diamond would love to do? Bummin’ around, chillin’, not working, not performing, not writing, not reviewing movies, not listening to CD’s, not writing. What you write like upteen hundred pages of liner notes for this new project?
NEIL: Well, I did write some liner notes. What I like to do is… I like quiet. My work is so busy and so full of sounds that when I’m off… and I’m not off that often, but when I do take time off… I like quiet. And so whether if it’s being somewhere in the mountains and hiding myself away for a little while or just being away from people and the hubbub of that, That to me is important and I try to do… to get that quiet as much as I can.
DELILAH: OK, that’s not something that would surprise us. I want to know is quiet for you wearing dirty sweats you slept in the night before and eating popcorn… watching “Sleepless In Seattle” for the 37th time?
NEIL: Well, I’m catching up on a lot of television because I’ve been traveling so. I’ve missed years of TV shows. I’m like in TV heaven because I get a chance to catch up on two or three years of reruns… shows like “West Wing” or “Sopranos” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
DELILAH: So you’ve never seen seen any of those?
NEIL: I didn’t see any of them while I was traveling. I really didn’t know about them. Then you come back and you catch one or two episodes and you say “Hey, this is really good!”
DELILAH: I saw “Sex and the City” for the first time the other night.
DELILAH: ‘Cause I work nights, and when I’m home nights on the weekends I’m with my kids and what are we going to watch? Disney again?
NEIL: That’s right!
DELILAH: So you haven’t seen TV in years? The last I watched on a ongoing basis was “I Dream Of Jeannie.”
DELILAH: (laughing) And, “Happy Days.”
DELILAH: Yeah, I was in love with the Fonz, What can I say?
NEIL: He was terrific, but I mean I’m just catching up now on all of these shows. It’s great!
(“The Story Of My Life” is played)
DELILAH: Neil Diamond is with us on the phone tonight here on the Delilah Show. Neil, thank you for spending time with us. So tell me about “Stages.” What is one of your favorites songs that you’d like to be hearing on an ongoing basis over the next few months?
NEIL: There’s lots of things on this “Stages” package that have not been released before… lots of covers of other people’s songs… “Lay Lady Lay.” and “Rocket Man.” and “God Only Knows”… the Beach Boys song… bunches of songs that I’ve done over the years and really have never been heard. So I kinda like that. I try to keep it as fresh as possible… get as many new and fresh as possible on this package.
DELILAH: And there’s a whole CD… a whole disc of just Christmas songs?
NEIL: There’s a whole CD of Christmas songs that I’ve done again over the years. When we’re out during the Christmas period we’ll put in some Christmas things. Actually we’ve done an entire segments of the show with Christmas music. I love the Christmas stuff. So we’ve got a whole disc of that on this collection. It’s pretty broad and it’s got a lot of good stuff. I’m very pleased with it.
DELILAH: And last time we talked you told me you have friends… musicians that you’ve traveled with for years.
NEIL: Yeah! My band has been with me for 25 years now and so we’re pretty tight. I love them and it’s an extended family once you get out there. We’ve got it down pretty good… you know the poker game is probably the longest running poker game in rock and roll. It’s a good chemistry with everybody and I have a great deal of respect for my musicians, We have a lot of fun together.
DELILAH: Well, give them all my love. Tell them, “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You” for years of great music… for blessing so many people.
NEIL: That’s nice!
DELILAH: …and we’re going to get our hands on the entire “Stages” if we have to go into Mikes office and steal it!
NEIL: OK, I think we can arrange that for you. Thank you so much.
(“Play Me” is played)
DELILAH: Neil, thank you again. You are always so gracious with your time. Thank you for stopping by and sharing some time with us. Neil’s current CD project is called “Stages.” For more information you can log onto his website at neildiamond.com.