Open End Interview (Stones)

Open End Interview (Stones)

Stones Interview Recording Transcript:
SEGMENT 1 (12:00)

INTERVIEWER:
“Music-Radio 940, WSHS- hi, it’s Chris Pickett with you and our special guest, one of the music world’s great stars, Neil Diamond- whose last 4 albums alone have sold over a million copies. Neil’s latest album, on the UNI records label, is entitled Stones and we’ll be talking to Neil about that album as well as playing songs from it as we go along. So, without further a-do, our special guest during this hour of “Album Spotlight,” Mr. Neil Diamond!”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Hi everybody, this is Neil Diamond and ah, it’s really nice to be here on the show and I’d like to play for you some of the new sides for you from the album Stones.”

(MUSIC: I AM… I SAID- NEIL DIAMOND- 3:32)

INTERVIEWER:
“That’s the opening track to Neil Diamond’s latest album Stones. It’s called ‘I Am… I Said’ and we’re talking with Neil Diamond this hour on Album Spotlight. Neil, that’s a great song- it’s already become a classic. Why don’t you tell us how you came up with the idea for it?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, ‘I Am… I Said’ was a very difficult song, very difficult because it was, ah, because I really had to spend a lot of time thinking about what I was before the song was written and ah, I spent about four months writing it. And ah, it’s easily the most satisfying lyric that I’ve written because it’s very personal because it touches me ah, maybe more deeply than some of the other songs.”

“‘I Am…I Said’ is a very complicated song and it’s complicated probably because my feelings were very complicated when I wrote it. It’s ah, it tells of feeling lost and full of questions and doubts and insecurities and ah, really having a need to go back home, to go back to the roots, to go back to that original security that you feel in life and ah, realizing that you- you never can go back home- that- that time makes things different and it changes things.”

“I suppose it’s a, it’s a song of conflicts and frustrations as well as the ah, lost/scared thing that I mentioned. Yeah, I guess I do have a lot of myself wrapped up in it.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Well, having listened to your music for the past few years, I feel like a lot of your songs are personal statements.”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, I’ve found for the last couple of years that the things that I can become most deeply involved with are songs that ah, reflect my real feelings about things and ah, so that’s what I’ve been writing about.”

INTERVIEWER:
“You’re listening to Album Spotlight with our special guest, the brilliant entertainer, composer and musician, Neil Diamond, whose new album Stones has just been released on the UNI records label.”

“Neil, it’s a very interesting cover that you have here for the album. There’s a picture of you sitting on a bench in front of an old wall. What can you tell us about the photo?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“This photograph was taken in a manor house outside of London. The house is about 450 years old and the photograph is a little meditation garden that the man who had owned the house had built in memory of his wife after she died and was a beautiful, peaceful area and the statue is of his wife and I imagine that he came and sat on the bench and just meditated. It was one of the most peaceful, quiet places I’ve ever been.”

INTERVIEWER:
“And was that the inspiration for the title of the album Stones?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“No actually, the title of the album came from the feeling that most of the songs projected. And ah, of course, it is the title of the song ‘Stones’ but I felt that, ah, it also captured the feeling of the- of the album so I wanted to use it.”

“Stones has meant to me things that hurt people- things that, ah, cause people pain. The next album may be called ‘Sticks.'”

INTERVIEWER:
“We have nine different songs on this LP, how many of them did you write?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Ah, I’ve written three of the songs on the album. The rest are, ah, outside songs- songs written by writers that I have a tremendous amount of respect for and they were songs that I’d been wanting to record for a couple of years and, ah, I finally got around to do it and I just couldn’t be more pleased about it.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Yes and we’ll be hearing some of those songs as we go along. But I can’t help but wonder, your songs seem so personal- what is it that you look for when you record someone else’s song?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, it would be, ah, foolish of me to assume that the only music that I can be moved by and affected by, is my own music. There are many songs that I love and, and can touch me and move me and that’s really the only yardstick that I use to determine whether I’ll record a song- an outside song or not.”

“If it can affect me, if it has meaning to me, if I feel I can do it well, I will do it and record it and that’s why I recorded these songs. They’re all lovely and beautiful and special in their own way.”

INTERVIEWER:
“And that’s the perfect intro to our next song, if you’d be so kind to tell us about it.”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Alright, this is a beautiful, beautiful Tom Paxton song and, ah, very touching and very lovely and very delicate and I- I- I just enjoyed singing it and, ahh, I suppose that’s reason enough to record it and that’s why I did record it. It’s called ‘The Last Thing On My Mind”’

(MUSIC: THE LAST THING ON MY MIND- NEIL DIAMOND- 3:31)

NEIL DIAMOND:
“That was ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ by great writer Tom Paxton and it’s right out my new album Stones and this is Neil Diamond.”

Stones Interview Recording Transcript:
SEGMENT 2 (5:30)

INTERVIEWER:
“Neil Diamond is co-hosting this week’s Album Spotlight and we’re featuring his brand-new album Stones which just cam out on the UNI label. The album has ten songs on it, three of which were written by Neil and the rest were composed by some of today’s top songwriters.”

“Neil, I was noticing that many of your songs seem to be constructed differently than those by other songwriters. Could you explain that for us?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, because, ah, my musical training has been limited, ah, I’ve never really been restricted by what technical musicians might call a song. I’ve never limited it to 32 bars. The main objective in any song, the songs that I write, ah, has always been that, that it reflect the way I feel, that it, that it touch me when I, when I’m finished with it, when I’m finished writing with it, that it moves me, that it can take me along it and, and involve me in what it’s saying and ah, it’s really the only, only rule that I use when writing, ah, there are no limitations other than that.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Do your songs come primarily from inspiration or can you just sit down and knock them out whenever you have to?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“The type of song that I’ve been writing requires that I become, that I be involved in it and ah, ah, I suppose that inspiration is the right word although it always seems so enormous to me, ah, I suppose that being moved to write a song is more applicable to me. Ah, I have to be moved. I have to have a reason to write a particular song and, ah, if the word inspiration fits then I guess that can be used. I like to use the word ‘moved.'”

INTERVIEWER:
“Do the songs come easily to you or do you have to sit down and labor over them for a long time?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“They did- the songs did come easily to me at the beginning when I first started writing but then I, I wasn’t saying what I’m saying now. I wasn’t delving as deeply as I do now. They- they’re very difficult now and take a lot of time and a lot of care. But again, the main point is that, that the ultimate song, the final, finished song be reflective of what I feel and be able to touch me and move me and affect me in, in whatever way the story that the message intends.”

INTERVIEWER:
“And that brings us to another tune. Why don’t you tell us about this one, ‘Chelsea Morning?'”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Chelsea Morning is, ah, a great Joni Mitchell song and, ah, I, I guess I’m partial to her lyrics because they, they show me a slightly different perspective on life. She’s a, she’s a really fine lyricist and she’s also a very delicate woman and, ah, I think that in a sense women see things from a slightly different perspective and, ah, I find it uplifting and refreshing and I love to do her songs.”

(MUSIC: CHELSEA MORNING- NEIL DIAMOND- 2:32)

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Beautiful, great Chelsea Morning by beautiful, great Joni Mitchell and this is Neil Diamond and we’re playing some of the songs from my new album ‘Stones.'”

Stones Interview Recording Transcript:
SEGMENT 3 (6:26)

INTERVIEWER:
“One of the triple-threat talents of the music world is our special guest on this week’s Album Spotlight, Neil Diamond. ”

“He’s got four gold albums so far and a whole host of hit singles. Plus- he’s out right now with a great new album called ‘Stones’ on the UNI records label.”

“Neil, it is fantastic to be talking with you. Tell us a little bit about your childhood. What was that like?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“It wasn’t an easy one, but I don’t if very many people do have easy lives. Ah, Brooklyn is not the easiest place to grow up in although I wouldn’t change that experience for anything. We moved around quite a bit, I went to quite a number of schools. Ah, it’s not the best kind of a life for a kid but, ah, I survived it somehow.”

INTERVIEWER:
“And then you moved to Wyoming?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Yeah, we- we stayed in Wyoming for about, ah, two years and, ah, that was a great experience. I was very young when we were there but, ah, great experience- very different from Brooklyn to say the least. We were in Cheyenne and, ah, just chock-full of cowboys and all that great stuff that you only see on films.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Did you ever think back then that you’d ever reach these heights?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“No, to be perfectly honest with you I didn’t. But, ah, the human mind adjusts to certain situations and whatever success I’ve had so far has been assimilated into my mind and body and it’s, ah, I don’t really feel much different than I did 5 or 6 years ago.”

INTERVIEWER:
“What was your goal back then when you were starting out as a songwriter in New York?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“The most that I hoped for was that I would be able to earn enough money writing music to live and to be able to write for as long as I wanted to without having to do anything else but write. That was the best that I felt that I could shoot for. ”

As far back as I can remember it was, ah, that I be a writer and, ah, and if I was lucky enough, maybe even land a recording contract and be able to sing.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Is there an inner voice that keeps a guy like you going in a field that’s as rough and frustrating as songwriting?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, I’m not really sure. I know that, ah, people do things and spend a lot of time on things to fulfill needs that they have inside of themselves. One of the needs that I had was to be accepted by people and be respected and I suppose that those two things were, were up in the forefront.”

“But, ah, I kept writing for, for a lot of years at the beginning because it was the only thing that I really wanted to do. I didn’t really have any choice. I wanted to write and later, I wanted to involve myself in recording and, ah, that was all I really wanted.”

“And so I struggled, took all kinds of jobs and, and just hustled and tried to kep- keep myself alive for 5 or 6 years, um, just to be able to write.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Well, it certainly must have been worth it because you’ve had quite the success. How about if we talk about this next song?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, this is the, ah, the title song to the album Stones and, ah, I guess if I had to sum up Stones, I’d call it a desperate love song and, ah, as I said before, Stones, to me, has always meant, ah, things that hurt people, things that cause pain and, ah, that’s what the song is about.”

(MUSIC: STONES- NEIL DIAMOND- 3:02)

NEIL DIAMOND:
“That was ‘Stones’ and, ah, that’s from the new album Stones and, ah, what more can I say?”

Stones Interview Recording Transcript:
SEGMENT 4 (10:50)

INTERVIEWER:
“You’re listening to Album Spotlight. I’m Chris Pickett with Neil Diamond, who was picked as 1971’s number one male singles artist by the National Association of Record Manufacturers and Cashbox magazine.”

“Neil’s songs have also been cut by everyone from Mantovanni to Elvis and by way of a special connection, Neil is our special guest this afternoon as we spin some of the great songs from his brand new album Stones.”

“Neil, how many albums have you recorded so far?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, this is about, ah, my eighth or ninth album- my sixth I think, for UNI Records. And, ah, it was interesting, when I recorded my very first album, I thought to myself ‘well, when this whole thing is over, I wonder how many albums I will have recorded’ and, ah, didn’t think I’d reach this many.”

INTERVIEWER:
“What’s your actual procedure when you write your songs? Do you write your music first and then put the words in or do you have the thoughts in your mind and then fit the music to it?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Very often the music comes first. Ah, I’ve always thought of music as something that gives the words their flight and their wings. Ah, music often comes first although, ah, sometimes, ah, I’ll have a concept, a title idea, ah, a lyric idea that I want to- to write and, ah, then the lyric will come first. It never happens the same way. Of all the songs that I’ve written since I was fifteen or sixteen, every song is different. Every song is special. It happens in a different way. And that’s – I like that.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Your music has been described as ‘urban rock.’ Is that the way you’d label it?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“It’s very difficult to put that kind of, ah, label on my songs because, ah, because I write- I found that I write in many different styles, in many different forms- folk or rock or country or latin.”

“Um, but to me, that’s always been secondary. I suppose if you had to put a label on the songs, they- it would be that they come from me, they come from inside. They are personal and yet they are universal. Ah, I guess that’s the only label that I can conceive of putting on them.”

” I suppose that I’m influenced by everything that I see and hear but I can’t really pin down something. There is a definite country influence, which may be strange in light of the fact that I’m from Brooklyn. But, ah, but country music was the first music that I fell in love with when I was younger and, ah, had a very strong influence on my early songs and, ah, still does now.”

INTERVIEWER:
“What about the arrangements on your albums- do you handle those as well?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, for the most part, ah, the- the instrumentation and the arrangements are done when the song is written. It’s all part of how the song is to be projected.”

“Ah, although I work with a number of arrangers when it comes down to the studio work- Lee Holdgridge in particular, who, ah, is super-talented and we think alike in many ways and, ah, we identify with the songs similarly. So, we’ve worked together a lot.”

“But, to a large degree, the arrangements come when the songs are written. Lee did all of the arrangements on Stones and he just did a fantastic, beautiful job.”

INTERVIEWER:
“So, what lies ahead, Neil? What do you see yourself doing to keep yourself busy in the future?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Well, there are a couple of things that I’d like to do. Right now I’m starting work on a, on a special for NBC and, ah, which will be shown, ah, beginning of April. I’m very excited about that. I have, I have stayed away from television for the last year and half or two years because I haven’t really been able to, to do what I wanted to do. To, to express the music in the way that I wanted it to and so I just kinda felt that I’d stay away from it.”

NEIL DIAMOND: (continued)
“But, ah, with this special I have, ah, complete artistic freedom, ah, and ah, I’m interested to see what it will come out like. I mean, it may be a total flop, but, ah, I hope not. I don’t think so, anyway.”

“I would like to do a- do a musical. Not the typical kind of musical. I can’t really get more specific than that ’cause I don’t know- I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I’m taking notes and writing down ideas. I guess when it’s ready to come, it will come out.”

“I think if I have one, one hope, one- one ambition, one aspiration for the next four or five years, it would be that I can improve as a writer and just be able to say more of what I want to say through the music. Ah, it’s, it’s really that simple. I just want to write music and record and, ah, if people still come to see me in performances, ah, I’d like that to be special also.”

INTERVIEWER:
“Well, Neil, it should be fascinating to follow your career. It sounds like it’s going to be one of the most exciting and productive careers in show business and before you go, how about one more song?”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“O.K., this is, ah, to my mind, ah, an amazing song. The arrangement, ah, which was done by Lee Holdridge is perfect for the song. It was- the song was written by Randy Newman.”

“Matter of fact, I dropped him a little note after I finished recording it with a copy of, ah, of an acetate and, ah, he- he sent back that, ah, that this was his favorite version of the song and I think it’s my favorite outside song on the album.”

It’s called ‘I Think It’s Going To Rain Today’ and, ah, it leaves me with goose bumps.”

(MUSIC: I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN TODAY- NEIL DIAMOND- 2:36)

INTERVIEWER:
“And that’s another great song from Neil Diamond’s latest album Stones on the UNI Records label. I’m Chris Pickett.”

“Neil, we’d like to thank you for joining us here on Album Spotlight. It’s been fantastic talking with you and we wish you all the best in the future.”

NEIL DIAMOND:
“Thank you, ah, it’s been difficult. Um, it’s always difficult for me to talk about the music. Comes much easier by doing it but, ah, I hope that, ah, I made some kind of sense and thanks.”

(MUSIC: I AM… I SAID Reprise- NEIL DIAMOND- 2:33)

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