Julia Orange (1975)
Julia Orange: ??? What’s the position of Australia at the moment? Are you off there or not?
Neil: Well, no, I’m definitely not “off” there. When you say I’m “off” there…
Julia: Is the tour going ahead?
Neil: The tour is going ahead. I’ve just put it back maybe one or two seasons, but I originally planned to be there at the end of January or the early part of February, but after sitting down with all kinds of production people that would be involved in putting the staging and the lighting and special effects together, we just felt that there wasn’t enough time to do it properly. And I’ve never been to Australia before and it may be a while before I get back so it’s very important to me that I have Australia see what I do and it’s important to do it well and do it right and I’d rather not show my face there until I feel I can do that. So …
Julia: You’re a perfectionist like that?
Neil: Well, I like to do it right.
Neil: It’s so much more fun to do it’s more exciting…
Julia: Is the show…is it very lavish what you do…the presentation?
Neil: Well, I’m not sure if you’d describe it as lavish, but I’d much prefer to call it relevant to the music and it does require considerable production work and staging and orchestrations that have to be done in order to do it properly and that involves a tremendous amount of work and time mostly. And so I hope to be there some time next year …maybe in the spring and show Australia what I can do.
Julia: Yeah. I understand that three Australian promoters were actually in L.A. asking for your hand. Have you given it to anyone yet?
Neil: No, we haven’t made any commitment to anyone although there were a number of promoters up from Australia and they were all interesting and frankly I felt that each of them could handle the tour that I wanted to do very well, but I’ll leave that up to my agency and my attorneys to decide on who they finally want to go with. But I was impressed with all of them so it’s a very difficult choice. I’m not really too concerned that they’ll be handled on a high level …a very high quality level …when we get there.
Julia: Yeah. I know in Australia that you outsell even the Beatles…everybody. I think it’s one person in every thirty-five has “Hot August Night.” And that’s very neat is it? I know that your sales are phenomenal anyway. Have you ever analyzed why that might be?
Neil: I don’t really know. I guess they like what I do. It’s really kind of simple.
Julia: In terms of the Australian personality?
Neil: Maybe I was an Australian in a previous life.
Julia: ??? son. Quite interesting! Is it going to be a strange experience for you…touring again after three years?
Neil: Yeah, well, yes. It’s going to take some getting used to because I’ve been writing for the most part and it does take getting the wheels lubricated and in motion again. Not strange because I’ve toured and I’ve been doing performances for a long time, but it is a lay-off. You know it’s kinda like an athlete laying off for a year or two. You have to get yourself back into shape and prepare yourself for the rigors of traveling and performing and that kind of thing.
Julia: But George Harrison said that ???? he felt like hell after…you know he had such a long lay off. It could be very traumatic ???? again. How do you think your lay off has helped you? Do you feel better for it?
Neil: Well, first of all, I think the road…traveling and doing concerts if fantastically exciting, but it also…after you do it for a long period of time…it can become very draining, especially if you’re writing music which requires time for contemplation and it requires time…time away from the level of excitement that you’re dealing with when you’re traveling on the road. In that respect it was fantastic for me because it gave me time to settle down. It gave me time to spend a year writing Jonathan Seagull. It gave me time to spend eight or nine or ten months working on “Serenade.” In that respect it was fantastic because neither of those albums could have been done or written or put together had I been traveling. And I find it very difficult to really devote myself to both of them at the same time.
Julia: Yeah. With “Serenade” it seems to me that lyrically you’ve moved into probably yet another dimension and you’re taking your audiences a little bit further. Were you trying to do that? Lyrically and musically?
Neil: It’s not so much what you try to do. You try to do the best you can, ultimately, but it’s what you are as a person. It’s what your development and your growth…those areas express themselves through the music and I think that this time off from the road has been good for me because I’ve been able to get myself more together as a person. And that’s really what reflects itself in the music… you as a person. That’s what comes across.
Play: “Longfellow Serenade”
Julia: ???? to do to make “Serenade” the hit it has been. Did you feel that after not recording for so long there was a certain need for you to ????
Neil: Well, you know the Jonathan Seagull album was very aesthetic…kind of an art kind of a thing more than a commercial music song thing. And when you spend a year on a project, which is what I spent on Jonathan, I was ready at that point to say…O.K. now I want to do some fun music… some up music,,, some new kinds of things for me. And that’s rally what “Serenade” is. It’s just a very up album for me and I feel very good about it.
Julia: It almost seems that you have done in the past ten years…all the gold albums and “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and the fantastically successful concerts. Is there a time that you remember as being more exciting…that you felt more had been achieved than any other?
Neil: Well, there are always high points. You know I have to say that the performances at the Greek Theatre were absolutely high points. It was tremendously exciting. Los Angeles was very up and I was very up and this is really my home town now. The Winter Garden Theatre was very very special. The Jonathan Seagull project was also special and I guess those were the most exciting things that I’ve done in the last couple of years although I have to say that the last two years, since I stopped performing, have been really… not the high level of excitement that you get when you’re doing concerts, but it ??? kind of an internal excitement because I was aware that finally I had time to sit down and do a lot of reading that I hadn’t done and to explore myself and to examine myself and really grow up over the last couple of years. It’s given me that time. You know when you’re on a merry-go-round it’s very difficult to look around. The last two years have also been a high point of excitement, but a whole different kind of excitement for me.
Julia: Will Australia be your first return to concerts?
Neil: No, I expect to do some concerts here in the states first… probably playing some universities to work out some new music and to experiment with some ideas that I want to work with before we start adding the production values to the show. Also it’s very important to me to show Australia and the Australian people what I can do. They’ve been very loyal to me and they’ve been fantastically kind to me so far as my records and my music.
Play: “Crunchy Granola Suite:
Announcer: …Neil Diamond talking to American reporter…