Plays: Part of “Song Sung Blue”
Neil: Taking a sabbatical, getting away from what you’re doing for a little while, it doesn’t have to be 3 or 4 years it can be 3 or 4 months if you can do it…
Neil: … is a fantastic opportunity and I wanted to take it.
Geraldo: And Neil’s come back and I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say. And then we’re going to go back about 4 years ago he was just about to play a series of 20 sold out concerts in the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway. He was the first rock star ever to play a legitimate Broadway theater and at the time was also one of the hottest acts in the music business. Then really at the peak of his career he just stopped performing; he said that he wanted to rest a while to think about his music and about his life and that was 4 years ago, but now Neil Diamond’s come back. I met him again during the sound check before his opening concerts at Forest Hills stadium in New York City, during a break we talked about why he went away in the first place, why he came back and what’s ahead for one of the most talented men in music.
Plays: Part of “I Am I Said…”
Geraldo: 1972 The Winter Garden I talked to you the afternoon before the first of 20 sold out concerts and at that time you were certainly one of the top one, two or three people in the industry. Why did you choose that time to go?
Neil: Well I can’t honestly say that I choose that particular time, it was pretty hard at that time but I pretty well decided the year before that I would really give my all to it for another year and then I had to get away because the insanity was starting to creep in and it was no longer a normal existence, and I wanted to get back to just a normal life and of course there’s no better time to leave something than when you’re on top you know you hope that you have the option of coming back whenever you want and I felt pretty strong and I felt that there were enough people out there who had seen the concerts and seen the performance who would at least come back one more time to see what Neil Diamond was still doing so I had hoped for that and I felt that they might even wait a couple of years until I got my head together and got my act together and it seems like they have and so thank God it worked out ok.
Geraldo: It sure did.
Neil: It could of been a disaster.
Geraldo: And welcome back. Did you miss concerts ?? to see your family again
Neil: I got closer to my family I was able to take my son to school in the morning, I mean you know those kind of things it was very happy times for me, telling stories every night before putting him to bed. I was able to come here and do some traveling, I was able to go out and see shows see other performers which you can’t do while you’re out there working. It gave me plenty of time to do what I wanted to do; a great deal of reading, a couple of years of therapy you know to work on those talking muscles and be able to express myself verbally, you know I had done it before then really basically through the music it was one of the most worthwhile periods of my life you know I think taking a sabbatical getting away from what you’re doing for a little while it doesn’t have to be 3 or 4 years it can be 3 or 4 months if you can do it…
Neil: … is a fantastic opportunity and I wanted to take it.
Geraldo: So you’re real happy now that you’ve done it and how does it feel to be back?
Neil: It feels great I’m back because I want to be back; I’m excited about it I’m not burned out I … ?? there are interesting places to play whether it’s Las Vegas or Australia or Forest Hills even going back to the Greek Theatre in September it’s very exciting and I’d like to do it as long as it is exciting.
Geraldo: Do you… you say you went for therapy was that an attempt kind of to find out what had happened to your other 10 years? I mean starting out a songwriter for 50 bucks a week and then becoming the person that’s probably the highest paid act in show business in Las Vegas, in the Aladin anyway.
Neil: Well it was an attempt to find myself and also I had an interesting experience I went for a screen test for a film that they were doing at that time based on Lenny Bruce’s life I worked on it for a few weeks with Tom Oborgan I went and did the screen test and somehow speaking of Bruce’s words thinking his things studying him the way that I did before that test it opened up things in me that I didn’t really know existed before and I was a little afraid of them you know I began to think things, I was angry, I was ready to… you know because that’s where Lenny Bruce was really at and I started the therapy after that I said my God there’s got to be all kinds of places in my brain that I haven’t begun to touch and it was one way to do it and I did it for three and a half or four years and I got my diploma…
Neil: … I thank my analyst he said do you need more time with me, I said no you graduate after 4 years of college
Neil: … I’m graduating now it’s been great and you know I’ll be seeing you.
Geraldo: A lot of people would be very shy to talk about an experience as personal as that and you’re an upfront guy, you always were.
Neil: Well it was a good experience for me you know 4 years away unbelievable because I had been on the road, I had been traveling you know hundreds of cities all over the world and you never really get to see any of them when you’re traveling you know it’s in the airport boom the car to the hotel boom you get dressed you go and you do your show you’re swept out of there before you can see anyone or anyone can see you and you end up back in your hotel alone again and I needed time I needed time for myself for the person you know the celebrity and the performer that’s great but hidden underneath all of that is a human being that I wanted to get to know.
Geraldo: Tonight will be another one of those Hot August Nights I think.
Neil: Yes it is, really hot.
Neil: Good to see you again.
Geraldo: See you again Neil
Interviewer: Good luck.
Plays: Part of “Soolaimon”
Announcer: On a hot August night Neil Diamond came back. I don’t know if it’s a hot August night where you are right now, but we’ll be back with “John Denver and climb the Rocky Mountains.