Pete Murray – Radio II


Pete Murray:
Coming up to eight and a half minutes to eleven, and I’m delighted to welcome to the programme Neil Diamond. Good morning to you, Neil.

ND:
Hello Pete, how are you.

PM:
One thing we’ve got to clear up, Neil, before we go any further, is that you’re only here to do a television show, is that right?

ND:
That’s essentially what I came into England for, to do the Shirley Bassey show, the Christmas special, and – er – to talk to some people and reacquaint myself with some old friends and see England again, I haven’t been here for a while. And also to kind of prepare myself for the rigours of travelling, I’m planning on going out and doing a limited number of concerts next year.

PM:
What, here?

ND:
Yes, I’ll be doing some here in England as well, I hope in the spring, and – so this is kind of a shakedown cruise for me, to see if I’m capable of dealing with all of the travelling and touring again.

PM:
Well, we had to get that cleared up, I’ll tell you for why, because we had so many phone calls asking where you would be appearing while you’re over here. Now this Shirley Bassey show you’re doing, I don’t think has an audience, does it?

ND:
Yes, there was an audience there.

PM:
Oh, you’ve done it already?

ND:
Yes, it was done Sunday night, and I think it’ll be shown in about two weeks.

PM:
Excellent.

ND:
I think – well, she’s a spectacular lady, but – there was an audience of five or six hundred people in during the taping.

PM:
It’s an extraordinary thing, ’cause I’ve been an admirer of yours for quite a number of years, and you’ve made some beautiful records, and it took quite a time before you got the appreciation here in Britain, didn’t it?

ND:
Er, yes, it – well, it took quite a bit of time before I got any appreciation anywhere! But – er – fortunately I’ve – there is an audience that’s into my music, and – but it did take quite a bit of time, you know. I think it’s very important for performers to come over here and to – to show people what you can do, so I did a number of tours through England, and fortunately was able to establish an audience.

PM:
You’ve certainly got that now. In fact we’ve got your fan club in here this morning! (Laughter)

ND:
I see that, yes.

PM:
Right, well, we’ll hear one of your records a little later on, because we have a news junction at eleven o’clock, so I’ll play a couple of requests, and then we’ll get round to talking to you again.

PM:
… and myself, we didn’t know what fell walking was, but I’m glad to tell you that fell walking, Neil, is walking over the moors.

ND:
Yes, it sounds fascinating.

PM:
It’s not a hobby of yours, walking over the moors?

ND:
No, I don’t think they have any moors any more in the United States! But they’ll probably create one, the Walt Disney organisation will probably –

PM:
(Laughter) A Walt Disney special!

ND:
Yes.

PM:
Well, we have – it’s just coming up to eleven o’clock.

PM:
… and a half minutes past eleven, and Neil Diamond is our guest on Open House. Neil Diamond, of course, is a singer of songs, and generally speaking you sing your own songs, don’t you Neil?

ND:
Generally I do, yes, but I don’t limit it to my own songs because I love to sing, and every once in a while I find a song written by some other people that I just love and I have to go in and record, but for the most part I’ve been doing my own songs.

PM:
What sort of composers do you – contemporary composers do you admire?

ND:
Well, there are a – I think Lennon and McCartney have been doing – have done some fantastic music, and in the States Randy Newman, and Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and – er – here in Europe, Gilbert Becaud and – there are some very fine writers around today.

PM:
What about what they call the old-timers, the ones that have still got the songs going round, the standard songs? Anybody you like in that way?

ND:
Well, there are some extraordinary writers, but the – it’s a different style of music, and the language is different. The lyric is the thing that most dates a song, and Cole Porter and Irving Berlin were extraordinary songwriters, but – I think times are different, as we were just talking about, different times, and songs really reflect the times, and so it becomes more and more difficult to relate to a song written in the 1920s or 30s or 40s on a consistent basis, although occasionally they’ll come through and be very popular.

PM:
Well, there was an instance of that not so very long ago with Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You, which was an enormous hit.

ND:
Yes, yes.

PM:
So sometimes those songs can break through, and the lyric is pertinent to the moment, isn’t it?

ND:
Uh-huh, yes.

PM:
Of all the songs that you’ve written, do you have a particular favourite, or is that an impossible question?

ND:
It’s difficult, I suppose if I had to sum up my entire writing career with one song and say, well that would be the only song that you’ve written, and just to leave it at that, I suppose it would be a song called I Am … I Said. But again, it is difficult, you have – you’re so non-objective about the music that you write. I find songs that I like very much that people don’t care for very much, and songs that I never really considered very important that people adore, and so it’s very difficult.

PM:
Your latest album is called Serenade, it’s a recently released album on the CBS label, and all the songs you’ve written.

ND:
Yes, yes, that’s right.

PM:
How long does it take you to write for an album, how long would it take you?

ND:
Well, this particular album, the writing and the recording took almost a year. I’m not a very fast writer, I take a lot of time with each song, and – I’ve written songs in a matter of a few hours, and some songs have taken months and months to write.

PM:
This one took a year, this particular album?

ND:
This album took a year, yes.

PM:
Well, we’re going to hear a track from it now, it’s called (trips over words) – Rosemary’s Wine we’re going to play, sung by Neil Diamond from the album Serenade on the CBS label. And we’ll couple this with a request to a gentleman in hospital who’s recently had an operation, and we wish him well. Well, quite a number of people wish him well, his name is John Cosgrove and he’s in Ward C of the Royal Masonic Hospital, Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith. And good wishes come to you from your friends:- Tom the Song, Philip the Barber, John the Nose, Terry the Oats –

ND (in background):
And Neil the Singer!

PM (chuckles):
Neil the Singer! Pam the Wife, mustn’t forget her, and all the lads at Peeps (?sp). And we wish you well, John Cosgrove, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this record by Neil the Singer – Neil Diamond with Rosemary’s Wine.

PM:
Rosemary’s Wine by Neil Diamond, written by Neil Diamond and sung by Neil Diamond from Neil Diamond’s recently released album called Serenade, recently released on the CBS label. I love that arrangement, it’s beautiful.

ND:
Thank you.

PM:
We’ll talk more to Neil, but first hear this.

PM:
Just coming up to fourteen minutes past eleven, and this is our last little piece of chat with Neil Diamond. But before you leave, Neil, I don’t know very much about your – um – you are married, aren’t you?

ND:
Yes, I am, yes.

PM:
And do you have any kids at all?

ND:
Yes, I have a few of them!

PM:
How many have you got?

ND:
Three.

PM:
Oh, great, yes.

ND:
Fabulous.

PM:
And you live in California?

ND:
I live in Los Angeles – home of the earthquake and smog!

PM:
And 80 degrees at the moment!

ND:
80 degrees today, yes.

PM:
Looking forward to going back there, I’m sure!

ND:
Yes, actually I am looking forward to getting back.

PM:
Getting away from the winter and back to the summer!

ND:
Yeah.

PM:
Do you have any, apart from songwriting, do you have any time for any hobbies or pastimes at all?

ND:
Well, I do, I do get into some things here and there, I like to play chess, and I have, in the last two years since I haven’t been performing, been doing quite a bit of reading – um – very simple things, you know.

PM:
You’re not the type that likes to perhaps sit down and read a thriller, do you like thrillers? A lot of people like to relax with thrillers.

ND:
Er – no, you know, I prefer to see those type of films, but I’ve never really gotten into those books. No, I read – er – oh, very strange reading habits – everything that I haven’t read as a child in school and – er – is interesting – mostly non-fiction books, adventure stories and that kind of thing.

PM:
The true thing, in other words.

ND:
Yeah.

PM:
Well, Neil, thank you very much indeed for joining us, and we hope it won’t be too long before you come back to Britain. I think you aim to come here in the spring, that right?

ND:
Yes, I hope to, and thank you very much for having me.

PM:
Been a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed.

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