DOES THE MAN really need an introduction? Over the course of his 42-year career, Neil Diamond has sold some 120 million records, contributed more than his fair share of hits to the American songbook (“Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” among them), and become that rare icon who isn’t afraid to make fun of himself. On the strength of his latest release, Home Before Dark—which, if you can believe it, was his first No. 1 album—the 67-year-old “Solitary Man” hits town to class up the Rose Garden. Without further ado …
As you edge closer to 70, do you ever think about retiring? It crosses my mind occasionally when I’m particularly overburdened or exhausted. But this is what I am. I’ve been writing since I was 16. It’s an honor to spend my life working in music and trying to write and record songs that lift people in one way or another.
People question your coolness, but you were in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz—the coolest rock movie of all time. Yeah, it was done on Thanksgiving of 1976. I had dinner in a hurry with my family, jumped on a plane to San Francisco, took a cab to Winterland Theater, and got backstage a half-hour before I went on. After I did my song I flew back to L.A. and put my kids to bed. I missed the after-party. I hear it was a pretty good one.
You supposedly had a beef with Bob Dylan at the show. We chatted for a little bit. I told him he’d better be good that night because the audience was mine. He just arched his eyebrow and proceeded to go out and do a terrific show. He was electric that night.
Does it bug you that you still aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It just makes me think that maybe I just have to keep doing this. I’d like to get in someday with my peers. I’ve paid my dues and think I’ve done the good work.