It wasn’t always cool to admit your liking for the music of Neil Diamond. In the early 70s, he was ultra-cool, every household had a copy of Hot August Night and a Neil Diamond show was the hottest ticket around.
At other times, well, we questioned our enthusiasm, and kept our Neil Diamond albums at the back of the rack, during his semi-regular swerves towards kitsch, when the sequined shirts seemed louder than his songs.
He could be corny, and in the next breath deliver a line, a melody so good it would cut through everything and stay with you for life. And Neil Diamond is one of the great stage performers, who could work a crowd, please an audience, like few others.
Early this year, Neil cancelled an Australian tour and said he would retire from all live performances, following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Neil Diamond’s career and music – listen at the 34 minute mark on http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/itsjustnotcricket/its-just-not-cricket/9583886
Neil Diamond was studying medicine when his love of music drew him into song-writing, at a time when writers wrote and singers sang, but doing both was not the norm. He was one of the first of the mid 60s wave of young performers who wrote and performed their own songs.
There were so many ways to regard Neil Diamond – the Brooklyn balladeer, the Hot August Night sex bomb, the Jewish Elvis, and more recently, the venerable philosopher.
He’s sold 135 million records, and the Diamond song catalogue is a mighty body of work, packed with narrative, emotion, wonderful turns of phrase, timeless melodies. He wrote for The Monkees, Elvis, and was covered by all sorts, including Deep Purple.
We’ve just seen a music business giant go out gracefully, retiring from the road but promising more songs, new records. I hope you enjoy this playlist of Neil Diamond songs recorded by him, and some of the artists for whom he wrote.