The good times have never seemed so good for Neil Diamond.
The legendary troubadour is enjoying a career renaissance, grossing $168 million US over his three most recent tours and releasing 46th album on the Billboard charts (you read that right) Home Before Dark.
Produced by Rick Rubin, lauded for his work on Johnny Cash’s final releases, Diamond takes a downbeat approach â€” more than he’s known for when you compare the album to his classics such as Sweet Caroline, I Am, I Said, America, and Holly Holy â€” with a stripped-down, drum-free sound. The change resonated with listeners, as the album became Diamond’s first ever Number 1.
“Well, honestly I never paid much attention to it,” Diamond said in a teleconference interview. “I am more focused on the quality of the album and not whether it makes it to number two or three or one. And frankly, it came as a surprise to me when I was told that this was my Number 1.”
At 67, Diamond says his powerful baritone voice is as good as it ever has been, but he has somewhat muted his flamboyant showmanship. He is the first to admit he’s getting on in years, and notes he’s retired his ostentatious sequined outfits and wavy ebon coif.
“I did for years, I wore a very specific style. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted the shows to be fun,” he said. “Rock and roll has always been lot of a circus to me and I never hesitated to make the costumes reflect that. But I guess now I’m kind of toning things down a little bit and feeling right about it.
“Feeling that it’s appropriate and right for me at this point in my career and my life.”
After more than 40 years in the music business, the singer-songwriter assures fans old and new that he has no plans to retire, continuing to crank out his megahits to the strong crowds that he draws.
“Maybe in 20 years from now, but not right now. This is what I do and I mean it’s my official job,” he said. “Every night is different, every song is different. And I couldn’t think of a more exiting way to spend my life. I think Pavarotti once said, ‘a life in music is a life well lived.’ And I feel as though my life has been well lived thus far and I want to do it as long as I possibly can.”