It’s Neil Diamond, the guy from
the song from ‘Shrek’!


It’s Neil Diamond, the guy from the song from ‘Shrek’!
By Daniel Durchholz
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
12/08/2005

Younger music fans may have long ago relegated Neil Diamond to their parents’ – or even grandparents’ – record collections. But just in case they’re not aware of it, here’s a reminder that they may be fans of Diamond’s music, too.

“I’m a Believer,” sung by Smash Mouth, was the breakout hit from the “Shrek” soundtrack and was performed in the film by Eddie Murphy as well. Some will recall the original hit version by the Monkees, but the song was written by Neil Diamond.

In the Quentin Tarantino film “Pulp Fiction,” Urge Overkill crooned “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.” That, too, is a Diamond composition.

Over the years, Diamond’s songs have been covered by numerous artists from across the musical spectrum, from Deep Purple’s hard-rock take on “Kentucky Woman” and UB40’s reggaefication of “Red, Red Wine” to Johnny Cash’s haunting version of “Solitary Man” and Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s punk-rock rip through “America.”

On a few dates of U2’s late-’90s Popmart tour, guitarist the Edge even sang a Diamond tune, goofing a bit on “Sweet Caroline.”

Indeed, digging Diamond has become something of a kitschy rite of passage in recent years. The 2001 comedy “Saving Silverman” involved a group of friends who play in a Neil Diamond cover band. Proving he’s a good sport, Diamond made a cameo appearance in the film.

Once you get past the kitsch, however – and with the sixtysomething-year-old singer still leaping about in concert wearing shiny, beaded outfits, there’s no shortage of that – it still must be acknowledged that Diamond is one of the most accomplished songwriters of the rock era.

In addition to the songs taken to the charts by others, Diamond’s several dozen Top 40 hits include “Cherry, Cherry,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am … I Said,” “Song Sung Blue” and, with his former high school classmate Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

On his latest album, “12 Songs,” Diamond goes back to the basics. The album features a dozen songs, each of them with stripped-down arrangements and Diamond accompanying himself on guitar, something he hasn’t done in years.

The album was made under the supervision of producer Rick Rubin, who helped bring about Cash’s late-career comeback with a series of CDs featuring the Man in Black at his most elemental.

“12 Songs” isn’t nearly so stark: The songs are played by just a small combo – guitars, keyboards and some light percussion. The recordings are more fleshed out than demos, but Diamond says in the album’s liner notes that they take him back to the days when he couldn’t afford a lot of musicians to play on his sessions.

Diamond may have reconnected with his roots a bit with “12 Songs,” but don’t expect him to abandon the energetic, over-the-top performing style that has pleased his followers for so long. At the same time, don’t be surprised if there are a few younger fans in attendance, too – at least a few of whom are likely to be hoping to hear that song from “Shrek.”

Neil Diamond

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Savvis Center, 1401 Clark Avenue

How much: $42.50-$75

More info: 314-421-4400, 618-222-2900 or www.ticketmaster.com

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