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About Neil Diamond

When you consider Neil Diamond’s legacy, you have to specify which Neil Diamond you’re talking about: The professional songwriter who’s penned standards for countless artists? The exemplar of ultra-personal singer-songwriter fare? The glitzy entertainer behind anthems like “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “America”? Born in 1941 and raised in Brooklyn by Jewish immigrant parents who ran a clothing shop, Diamond first made his name as a Brill Building tunesmith (alongside folks like Carole King and Gerry Goffin), providing The Monkees with a jangle-pop gem worthy of their Fab Four forebears: 1966’s “I’m a Believer.” At the same time, his own solo albums teemed with soulful sing-alongs that proved adaptable to any genre: “Kentucky Woman” got rocked up into a breakthrough hit for Deep Purple, while UB40 famously gave “Red Red Wine” a reggae makeover in 1983. (And, of course, there’s not a karaoke bar in the world that hasn’t worn out its backing track of “Sweet Caroline.”) But Diamond’s swinging-’60s pop was undercut by disarming ruminations on loneliness, like “Solitary Man.” And in the ’70s, he reinvented himself as a denim-suited Sinatra on the lavish live set Hot August Night, while ascending to adult-contemporary sainthood with the strings-sweetened Streisand duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” But a pair of intimate, Rick Rubin-produced albums in the mid-2000s remind us that behind the big-stage spectacle is an artist who’s always seeking to communicate heartfelt emotions in the simplest terms.

New York, NY [Brooklyn]
Jan 24, 1941

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