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  1. 4 points

    Toronto Interview

    Hard to conceive that the man responsible for such pop gems as Cherry Cherry, Holly Holy, Sweet Caroline, and Cracklin’ Rosie – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – would describe himself as “a scared, nervous writer.” But that was the mindset of 73-year-old Neil Diamond, who has sold over 128 million albums worldwide and is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, as he set about recording his latest disc, the folk-pop inspired Melody Road, out Tuesday. For mobile users, click this link Turns out it was his first record under a new deal with Capitol after more than 40 years as a Columbia artist. “I like to swim at the deep end of the pool,” said Diamond in an exclusive Canadian interview with QMI Agency. “And I needed to get in another pool. And it worked. It scared the bejesus out of me and it forced me to really buckle down again and not kind of sit on whatever laurels were around and attack it like it was my first album, you know make it or break it. And I’m still a little bit nervous. I’m still walking on eggshells. It’s a very interesting time for me. I didn’t have to be at this time and place. I could have relaxed and gone down the easy road and just written songs that didn’t challenge me but I wanted to be challenged and I needed to be challenged.” Needless to say the song, First Time, on Melody Road, resonated with him. “It was a big change for me, a little bit scary,” Diamond admitted. “You know you find a comfortable zone to work in. The people at Columbia Records have always been nice to me but I just felt like I had to shake things up a little bit in my own head and throw myself into the water and force myself to come up with an album that was better than I might have come up with without shaking my world up. So it was a difficult time. I created the situation and I had to live up to it. I had to kind of step up and say that I could make a wonderful album, even if it was on another label and that’s what I tried to do... So there you go. This album never could have been written for Columbia Records, it had to be written by a scared, nervous writer and I’m glad I got through it in one piece.” Co-produced by Don Was and Jacknife Lee, Melody Road comes after two critically acclaimed records that Diamond made with producer Rick Rubin – 2005’s 12 Songs and 2008’s Home Before Dark – that were followed by a 2009 Christmas album and a 2010 covers album. We spoke with the legendary artist on the phone recently about crafting a good tune, his successful third marriage and touring seven Canadian cities in 2015. --- You married for the third time in 2012 (to his manager Katie McNeil) and much of Melody Road is love songs with titles like Ooo Do I Wanna Be Yours, Sunny Disposition, Marry Me Now and The Art of Love. Coincidence? I guess the relationship has had a strong influence on this album. Well, I mean, I don’t guess, I know it has. It’s been one of my foundations that has helped me through this whole thing. And it’s deep in the thread of this album, my relationship with my wife, and we actually made it together through to the completion of the album. So I’m happy that we lasted. The new tune, Seongah and Jimmy, is about your American brother-in-law (Katie’s brother) and Korean sister-in-law? I was really moved to write that because, first of all, I knew I’d be playing that for Seongah and Jimmy and it ended up I played the record for them at their wedding dinner so that was a beautiful moment for me. It was worth the year-plus that I spent writing that song. Her mom, who’d come over from Korea, started to cry when she heard her daughter’s name, and Jimmy immediately piped in, ‘This should be a Broadway show!’ That was a lot of fun. I’ve never had that experience before, writing something for someone else and watching them experiencing it. You also cover Harry Nilsson’s Remember and George Harrison’s Something as bonus tracks on Melody Road that were originally recorded for 2010’s covers album Dreams. Did you have a relationship with either man? Harry and I met when I just completed a couple of songs for an album when I was with Universal the first time (on the imprint Bang, which released some of his early hits), two songs, one called Morningside and one called Play Me. And we happened to bump into each other in London and I invited him up to listen to the songs and he liked one more than the other, but he did like them and we had a nice conversation and that was it. As far as George Harrison, no, we met, we spoke, but we never discussed songwriting. Maybe a little discussion about meditation and how to do it but that was about it. How much of Melody Road will you do on your 2015 North American tour? We’re going to do as much of it as people will let me get away with doing. I’d like it to be an important segment of the show. I think it will hold up and that’s what I’m working towards. Of course, I’ll do all the familiar hits and try to do them well with conviction and enthusiasm but I think it’s time for me to introduce some new things into the show and not only from the Melody Road album but from some albums of the past that I haven’t given a lot of attention to. There’s some cuts that I still like that I used to do maybe 40 years ago. Will the tour see the return of the much anticipated sequined shirts after you decided more recently to tone your stage attire down? If (fans) want to see what I’m wearing I’ll give them the key to my warehouse. I have every shirt I’ve ever worn probably. I visit them once every few years. But I think it’s time to tame down the glass beads and turn up the music a little bit. How many shirts are we talking about? I have about 600 pieces of costume and I save them really because I was so close to my designer Bill Whitten and I knew that it meant so much to him that I take care of these, all handmade items and close up they’re really quite spectacular. So I still have them. But I don’t foresee taking them out.
  2. 3 points

    Velvet Gloves and Spit by Neil Diamond

    I think the title was along the veins of his RRHOF speech and Neil trying to be cool and mysterious and no doubt his sense of humor like a few of the songs on the album...lol At the time the album was released, we just thought of it like - man, what a really deep person he is...
  3. 2 points
    REDLANDS >> There is almost no way to fail at pruning rose bushes, local garden expert George Nash said Saturday morning in Sylvan Park — as long as you get in there and do it. About 25 rose enthusiasts jockeyed for position around Nash at the north end of the Elsie Grant Krimm Memorial Rose Garden, watching him make his cuts with long-armed loppers, first clearing old growth out of the center of the plant and then choosing places to encourage this year’s bud growth. “Roses are forgiving,” Nash said. “As long as that rose bush gets a haircut every year, it will do pretty well.” Very few flowers were visible on the rows of bushes, although a few seemed to have been tricked by recent warm weather. Roses rest in the winter, which makes it a good time to clean out old canes that could get in the way of new buds. Sylvan Park’s rose bushes were badly in need of pruning, Nash said, and many needed replacement — but members of the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society had a not-so-secret ulterior motive in choosing the park for their annual pruning and planting demonstration: bragging rights. “Just wait until you see them on the Fourth of July,” said Barbara Herold, the group’s treasurer. “They’ll be in full bloom then. It’s going to be an absolute blaze of color.” Sylvan Park is the site of the city’s annual July Fourth celebration, so the roses will be well-placed to get a lot of attention. “We want them to put all the other roses in town to shame,” Herold said. To that end, said society President Chris Sedmack, the club donated 40 bare-root roses to replace missing and dying bushes in the garden, asking experts at Parkview Nursery in Riverside to choose especially colorful and fragrant new varieties with some input from society members. “People were looking at all the varieties and saying, ‘Oh, I want Neil Diamond,’ or ‘We have to get Hot Cocoa,’ ” Herold said. Hot Cocoa is a disease-resistant variety with deep rust blooms and chocolate overtones; Neil Diamond is a hybrid tea rose with red speckles. The show biz theme continued: Among the 40 roses planted Saturday were a Doris Day, Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor. The planting of the new roses was done by Boy Scouts from Redlands Troop 44 — the Eagle Scout project of Redlands East Valley High student Steven Bodine, 16, who didn’t know much about roses before his scoutmaster suggested the project. “Of course, now I know about pruning,” Steven said as that demo was winding up. Fortunately, next came the planting demo. Nash showed the Scouts and rose enthusiasts how to dig the right-size hole — “about a foot and a half by a foot and a half,” he said. He added a cup of rose food and a shovelful of planter mix, and put the roots gently on top. Someone asked about soaking the roots, and he said it wasn’t necessary for these roots. “If you got it from a reputable nursery, it’s just fine,” he said. “If you got it at the hardware store, yes, soak them for a couple of hours. They can get dehydrated.” He moved soil in over the root, leaving the branches above ground. “Then you stamp this ground down,” Nash said. “There — you planted a rose.”
  4. 2 points
    If I said I hope they choke on them, would it make me a bad person?
  5. 2 points
    This is quite a huge tour. My only hope is that this darn weather does not interfere with any of his concerts. I sincerely wish him and his Band all the best during this endeavor. I'm sure it's going to be quite fantastic!!!!
  6. 2 points
    (I would love to have to seen this one!) By Ray Kelly | rkelly@repub.com Follow on Twitter January 20, 2015 at 5:00 AM A pre- "Sweet Caroline" Neil Diamond was the main attraction at American International College's Winter Carnival back in 1968. Diamond topped the bill at the 32nd annual AIC event, which was held at Springfield Municipal Auditorium. Tickets were priced between $2 and $3.50. (By comparison, tickets for Diamond's upcoming show at the Mohegan Sun Casino are $75 and $95). The 27-year-old singer-songwriter was joined by Motown's Junior Walker and the All Stars and King Curtis and the Kingpins, who had opened for The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965. In early 1968, Diamond was just wrapping up his stint at Bang Records, where he had recorded such hits as "Solitary Man," "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman." A year after the AIC Winter Carnival, Diamond would achieve platinum-selling success with the Top 10 singles "Sweet Caroline" and "Holly Holy." The previous incarnation of Symphony Hall could accommodate 3,200 people, but the college-sponsored gig drew a little more than 650 people. Despite the modest crowd, the three acts "kept the hall jumping to the hard driving rhythms of present-day popular music," according to a critic from The Springfield Union. Diamond returned to the City of Homes on Oct. 18, 1976 to perform at the Springfield Civic Center at a fund-raiser for U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Link: http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/01/forgotten_concerts_neil_diamon.html
  7. 2 points
    Trisha L

    Neil reflects on his career

    I have not been able to upload the video, I get the message that the url is not supported http://www.cbsnews.com/news/neil-diamond-reflects-on-career-and-new-album-melody-road/ Neil Diamond hasn't stopped writing songs since he first picked up a guitar in the 1950s. The singer, known for his stadium-sized anthems, has released his 32nd album, 50 years after he left Brooklyn to become a songwriter, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason. "The subway station there," Diamond told Mason, pointing, "I shined shoes in front of that subway station. It was my first entrepreneurial position." Brooklyn is where he found his first job and went to high school at Erasmus Hall. Last month, the singer, who's sold out stadiums around the world, returned to a high school stadium to play his first concert ever in Brooklyn. "It was overwhelming," he said. "First of all, because you're not only performing to an audience, you're performing at a place that you inhabited when you were 14 years old. So everything broke through my mind. I'm singing a song and I'm thinking about being late to school and being in detention for an hour in that assembly room." He said it's that same room where he made his lifetime career decision. "The decision was to stop studying guitar and start studying piano," Diamond said. In detention that day, the teenage Diamond saw another boy practicing a classical piece on piano, and it opened up his musical world. "Suddenly I was not just playing folk music anymore," he said. "I was playing Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Debussy. That assembly room kind of changed my life." Diamond, who's written more than 40 top-40 hits, has just released "Melody Road," his first collection of original songs in six years. He confessed writing is harder now because he doesn't want to repeat material from his previous 31 original albums. And even though he has little to prove to a world enthralled by his music, he still works to make each one his best. "Well, I do know that I'm putting my name on it," he said. "So this is important to me. I don't want people to say, 'Well, you know, he was better in the '70s.' That's scary." Even with all his success, Neil Diamond admitted he still seeks approval from a higher authority, his 96-year-old-mother, Rose. "I do," he said. "She's got to hear them. Not only does she want to hear them, but something in me makes me want to go to her and play them. I don't know if it's because when I was a kid and started writing, she was the only one who would listen." And he assures, she's always been truthful about her opinions. "She's been brutally honest," he said. "And most of the time I don't like what she says. I resent it." It's her criticism that sticks out in his mind. "She's told me terrible things," he said. "'Why do you always do that with your voice over there? Why do you need to do that?'" Nevertheless, he said his mother's opinion matters more than ever. Now 73 years old and still one of the world's top drawing live performers, Diamond will hit the road behind his new record. "I have to because if I want to maintain any self -- I don't know why I have to," he said, struggling to explain his desire to continue performing. Calling it "tedious," he admitted there are certainly difficult aspects of performing, but there's more to it that keeps him going. "It's a joyful experience for me when you get on stage and you're up there alone with your audience," he said. "It's a perfect couple." He said that kind of relationship is a romance that never fades. "It has not faded for me," he said. "It's fearsome and scary and joyful and delicious, all at the same time." © 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  8. 2 points
    First of all, hello from a newbie to the site! I grew up listening to Neil's music, (I am 44 years old) my mother was always playing his stuff. So, from my childhood, I would have to say that Stones stuck with me, as did September Morn, I Am Glad You Are Here With Me Tonight, and of course, the Jazz Singer. Interestingly enough, Neil's music has always been a part of my musical background. No matter that I branched off into other genres, I love classic rock and other rather noisy things that make housework go by that much quicker. But, when I get tired of the ruckus, I turn to Neil, always have. I still listen to the stuff from my childhood, but I also like Tennessee Moon, Dreams and I am really digging Melody Road.
  9. 2 points
    Love so many HAN, Stones, Beautiful Noise, Jazz Singer, but the one that touches me on the most spiritual level is Jonathan Livinston Seagull. I have actually picked out the two songs that will be the last I hear.
  10. 2 points
    Some people got to sing Some people got to sigh Some people never see the light Until the day they die
  11. 2 points
    Linda M. Kelley

    Toronto Interview

    Shilo, These current interviews seem to be getting more & more interesting and all for the better. Thanks!
  12. 2 points
    Linda M. Kelley

    Neil Diamond in the rough

    I agree - it's a wonderful interview.
  13. 1 point
    I bought my ticket through Neil's site! Like that I know that it is legit, and third row.....By the way, anyone going to the Hollywood Bowl concert on May 23rd? My boys bailed out on me, and I am planning to still have fun!....... And Melissa, I agree with you! those people should choke!
  14. 1 point
    Thanks to Ginny G for the article. It sounds like Neil has some interesting things planned for us on this upcoming tour.
  15. 1 point
    Great interview! I love where he says he gets stronger as the tours start. I think he will have a blast on this tour and so will all the fans!
  16. 1 point
    Thanks Melissa, this was a great article. Sometimes I wonder if he ever gets tired of all these interviews??
  17. 1 point
    Linda M. Kelley

    Happy Birthday, Neil Diamond!

    Thanks Melissa, I think there is a lot of us who don't believe their age, including me????
  18. 1 point
    I too would have loved to have seen this. Neil has that natural loose way about him when he sings which I love. I see he was eligible for induction into the RRHF since 1989. I wonder what in the world took them so long?????
  19. 1 point
    Link to an interview with Neil on Australian radio. Unfortunately I cant see how to turn this into a video, maybe someone can. Now we know that it was Katie who wanted the beard! http://www.4kq.com.au/shows/laurel-gary-mark-morning/highlights/neil-diamond-on-facial-hair-and-his-music
  20. 1 point
    I guess my favorite is "Stones" because it not only contains my fav song--Stones, but also because it was my first Neil Album. But I have to admit the the album/CD I listen to the most is Original HAN. Whaaa! The first disc of the remastered 1999 release. It's hard to stop listening to it.
  21. 1 point
    Yes, I wish I could have been there in the presence of greatness as well.
  22. 1 point
    I lovethe album "The Very Best of Neil Diamond" which came out a couple of years ago.
  23. 1 point
    I still love listening to the first ever album I had...Shilo,( the one with all of the dots joining to make up Neil's face on the cover). Those early songs never grow old to me...although I do agree with you on the Stages album Melissa:)
  24. 1 point
    Melissa B

    Velvet Gloves and Spit by Neil Diamond

    Album cover attached.
  25. 1 point
    We will get used to it in time, I am having problems but you know, trials and errors, it'll all work out , thanks Melissa for all the work you do for us!!!