I'm A Believer

Neil Diamond wrote The Monkees' #1 hit

When I heard this week that Davy Jones had died, I was filled with sadness. I couldn’t believe it. Another icon of my childhood was gone. Davy Jones was one of my first major crushes, him and Donny Osmond. I remember watching “The Monkees” as a child in the 1960s, and again when MTV re-aired the series in the 1980s.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, this is a Neil Diamond blog, why is she talking about The Monkees? Well, as any Neil Diamond fan knows, Diamond wrote one of The Monkees’ greatest hits. Diamond wrote “I’m A Believer” in 1966, and The Monkees recorded it in November of that year. “I’m A Believer” hit number one on the Billboard charts in December, just a few weeks after its release, and remained on the charts for seven weeks. It was the last number one song of 1966, and the best-selling song for 1967. It was also a number one hit in the United Kingdom.

Neil Diamond did not write “I’m A Believer” specifically for The Monkees. He recorded it himself before The Monkees recorded it. “I’m A Believer” has been recorded by a variety of artists since The Monkees’ hit version. It has been recorded by such artists as The Four Tops, Barbara Mandrell, Smash Mouth and Weezer.  The cover by Smash Mouth, along with one sung by Eddie Murphy, were featured in the 2001 Dreamworks movie “Shrek”. The Weezer cover appears on the soundtrack to the sequel, “Shrek Forever After”, released in 2010.


The Jazz Singer

1980 movie received mixed reviews

Since this is Oscar week, I thought I’d write about Neil Diamond’s one and only film so far, The Jazz Singer. The film didn’t receive any Academy Award nominations, although Diamond did receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, and “Love On The Rocks” was nominated for Best Original Song. Diamond won a Razzie (Golden Rasberry) Award for Worst Actor and The Jazz Singer was nominated for Worst Movie.

The soundtrack to The Jazz Singer was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album of an Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.

The Jazz Singer received mixed reviews when it was released in 1980. A remake of the 1927 Al Jolson classic, The Jazz Singer stars Neil Diamond as Yussel Rabinovitch, a young Jewish man who has dreams of becoming a pop singer. Yussel defies his father, a cantor (Sir Laurence Olivier) and his wife Rivka, and heads to California to pursue his dream.

He changes his name to Jess Robin, meets Molly (Lucie Arnaz), a woman who has the same dream as him, and drifts apart from his family. Jess’s father encourages Rivka to go to California in the hopes that she can get Jess to embrace his Jewish roots and return home to New York.

Jess has fallen in love with Molly, and informs his father that he and Rivka are getting divorced. Jess is living with Molly, and recording his songs, which is all he’s ever wanted to do. During a recording session that goes from bad to worse, Jess runs off and spends several months on the road. He winds up finding work as a singer at a bar. One of his bandmates tracks him down, and tells him that Molly has given birth to a son. Jess did not know that Molly was pregnant when he left. He returns to Molly, and his son. Molly hopes that Jess can revive his career, and is given a second chance.

During a rehearsal for a concert in New York, a friend of his father tracks Jess down at the concert hall. The friend informs Jess that his father’s doctor will not let him perform the Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur due to high blood pressure. He asks Jess if he will do it. Jess relents and goes to the synagogue on Yom Kippur to do the Kol Nidre. It is a surprise to his father, as he did not know that Jess was going to be there.  Later, Jess gives his concert, and his father attends.


Song is based on Diamond's lonely childhood

One of my most favorite Neil Diamond songs is the early classic "Shilo". The song reminds me of my childhood, playing by myself with my imaginary friend, Alice.

"Shilo" was written and recorded in 1967, but it wasn't released as a single until 1970. At the time it  was written, Diamond's label, Bang Records, refused to release "Shilo” since it was a departure from Diamond’s signature pop sound. Disagreement with the label over the release of “Shilo” caused Diamond to leave Bang Records in 1968 and sign with Uni Records.

During his first two years with Uni Records, Neil did not have any hit records. In 1970, Neil had hits with “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy”, and his career was back on track. At that time, Bang Records decided to release “Shilo” as a single. They re-recorded the back track to make the song sound more like Neil’s current sound at the time.

“Shilo” was not considered a hit, climbing to only number 24 on the charts. Despite this, “Shilo” is one of Diamond’s most well-known and beloved songs. It is a staple during his concerts and has appeared on several of Diamond’s albums, including “Just For You” (1967), “Velvet Gloves and Spit” (1968), “His Twelve Greatest Hits” (1974), “The Greatest Hits 1966-1992” (1992), and his latest album, “The Very Best of Neil Diamond” (2011).

“Shilo” is about an imaginary friend, and is autobiographical, based on Diamond’s lonely childhood. I think that a lot of Neil’s fans can relate to the song, which is why it is a hit with fans, even though it wasn’t a hit on the charts.





Neil Diamond on Pandora Radio

There's more to Neil Diamond than "Sweet Caroline"

A couple of weeks ago I downloaded Pandora radio to my phone. Finally. I’m enjoying it so far, for the most part.

I like the fact that you have the ability to listen to one of their pre-programmed stations, or create one (or more) of your own, based on genre or artist.

I’ve created several of my own stations: Queen, The Bee Gees, Buddy Holly, and Neil Diamond. If you use Pandora, you know how it works. You select your artist and a station is created based on your choice.  The station plays songs by your choice of artist and by others of the same ilk. About every fourth song that is played should be by the artist you chose for the station. Except for the Neil Diamond station, I guess.

As I stated, I created a Neil Diamond station. The first time I listened to it, at the time I created it, I listened for almost two hours and heard a total of one Neil Diamond song the entire two hours. The Neil Diamond channel was not the first station I created, so I had an idea how it was supposed to work. The first song played was “Sweet Caroline”, and that was the only Neil Diamond song played. There was a number of songs byf Simon and Garfunkel, Elton John, Billy Joel, Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot. One Neil Diamond.

The next few times I’ve listened to my Neil Diamond station, the number of Neil’s songs has increased, but not with the frequency of Queen songs on my Queen station, or Buddy Holly songs on my Buddy Holly station. Hopefully, Pandora will realize soon that there is more to Neil Diamond than “Sweet Caroline”, “Holly Holy”, and “Cherry Cherry”.

The Very Best of Neil Diamond

Latest album features original studio recordings

The latest effort by Neil Diamond, The Very Best of Neil Diamond – The Original Studio Recordings was released by Columbia/Legacy Recordings on December 6, 2011. The single disc collection features Neil Diamond hits from the last five decades of his illustrious singing career. This is the first collection of Neil Diamond songs that contains hits from his entire career.

The Very Best of Neil Diamond contains the original studio recordings of 23 of Neil’s hits. The song list includes some of his first hits such as “Solitary Man”, “Cherry, Cherry” and “Shilo”, tracks from the movie “The Jazz Singer”, and the more recent hits “Hell Yeah” and “Pretty Amazing Grace”. Neil has had 37 Top Ten singles and 16 Top Ten albums in his almost-50 year career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.Here is the complete track list from The Very Best of Neil Diamond:

  1. Forever In Blue Jeans
  2. Beautiful Noise
  3. Love On The Rocks
  4. Cherry, Cherry
  5. I Am…. I Said
  6. Sweet Caroline
  7. Cracklin’ Rosie
  8. Play Me
  9. I’m A Believer
  10. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
  11. Holly Holy
  12. Solitary Man
  13. Song Sung Blue
  14. You Don’t Bring Me Flower
  15. Hello Again
  16. Red, Red Wine
  17. If You Know What I Mean
  18. Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show
  19. Pretty Amazing Grace
  20. Kentucky Woman
  21. Shilo
  22. America
  23. Hell Yeah

A special set liner notes called “Recollections” was written by Neil Diamond and was created especially for The Very Best of Neil Diamond.



Neil Diamond 2012 Tour Schedule

His North American Summer Tour begins June 1

Pop icon Neil Diamond will begin his North American Summer Tour June 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The tour is scheduled to conclude on September 1 in Las Vegas. The tour will feature Neil Diamond’s classic hits such as “Sweet Caroline”, “Cherry Cherry”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, “America”, and many more songs.

I’ve included a list of scheduled tour dates and ticket price ranges for each venue. I can’t guarantee prices; these are just what I’ve been able to find for the different venues.

June 1 - Bank Atlantic Center – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Ticket prices range from $51.25 to $116.25

June 3 - St. Pete Times Forum - Tampa, Florida

Ticket prices range from $52.25 to $117.25

June 6 - Phillips Arena - Atlanta, Georgia

Ticket prices range from $55 to $120

June 8 & 10  - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater - Wantagh, New York

Ticket price range is $29.50 to $149.50

June 14 - Verizon Center - Washington, DC

Tickets range from $55 to $120

June 16 - Mohegan Sun Arena - Uncasville, Connecticut

Ticket price range is $75 to $95

June 18 - Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ticket prices range from $55 to $120

June 21 - Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec

Ticket prices range from $49 to $165 Canadian

June 23 - TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts

Tickets range from $52.50 to $117.50

June 26 - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Ontario

Ticket prices range from $50 to $170 Canadian

June 28 - John Labatt Centre - London, Ontario

Ticket prices range from $71.25 - $151.25 Canadian

July 1 - Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio

Tickets range from $55 to $120

July 3 - DTE Energy Music Theatre - Detroit, Michigan

Ticket prices range from $26.50 to $124.50

July 6 - United Center - Chicago, Illinois

Tickets range from $55 to $120

July 8 - Summerfest – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tickets range from $25 to $90. Price includes gate admission to Summerfest

July 11 - Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, Minnesota

Ticket prices range from $53 to $118

July 13 - Credit Union Centre – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Prices range from $23.75 to $169.75 Canadian

July 16 - Rexall Place – Edmonton, Alberta

Prices range from $27.50 to $170.51 Canadian

July 18 - Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, Alberta

Ticket price range is from $28.99 to $164.25 Canadian

July 21 - Rogers Arena - Vancouver, British Columbia

Prices range from $27.99 to $168.75 Canadian

July 23 - Key Arena – Seattle, Washington

Tickets range from $52 to $117

July 26 - 1st Bank Center – Denver, Colorado

Ticket price range is $69.50 to $125.50

July 28 - Rio Tinto Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah

Unable to find ticket prices for this venue

August 7 - HP Pavilion – San Jose, California

Tickets range from $52 to $117

August 29 - US Airways Center – Phoenix, Arizona

Ticket prices range from $50.25 to $115.25

September 1 - MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada

Tickets range from $49 to $139

Ticket sales for all venues are available now. Ticket prices do not include any additional taxes or fees. Shows at all venues start at 8:00pm local time.


Cherry Cherry Christmas

A cheesy, cheesy Christmas song

I like Neil Diamond. Really, I do. And I generally like his songs. So, what the heck happened here? This song is one of the weirdest Neil Diamond songs ever. The title track from his 2009 Christmas album, “Cherry Cherry Christmas” is strange. Diamond takes the titles from many of his hits, such as “Cherry Cherry”, “Sweet Caroline”, “I’m A Believer”, and the more recent “Pretty Amazing Grace”, among others, and incorporates them into the words to this Christmas song.

It’s a cheesy song, and the video is pretty cheesy too. Even though the song is a couple years old, I hadn’t heard it before tonight. Or, if I had, I didn’t register it. I came across it when I was doing a YouTube search of Christmas songs. I kind of wish I hadn’t. Even though it’s a, well, cheesy song, it’s one of those songs that is going to get stuck in my head, you know? So I’m probably going to go through the day tomorrow humming this tune.

For your listening pleasure, here are the words and official video for “Cherry Cherry Christmas”. Enjoy.

Wish you a very merry, cherry cherry Christmas

 and a holly holy holiday, too.

Underneath your tree may there always be

sounds of harmony, not a song sung blue.

Just a very merry, cherry cherry Christmas.

And if all of those who love you gather near,

you'll have a very merry, cherry cherry, holly holy,

rock and rolly Christmas this year.

When the snow drops on the treetops

it's a pretty amazing scene. Hear the choir, light the fire.

Feels like pretty amazing grace if you know what I mean.

Oh yeah, it's Christmas time.

In a world of make-believe I'm a believer,

and I believe in things not always understood,

but the things you feel make believing real.

That's why Christmas feels so good, so good, so good.

 When you imagine all the world as one great chorus,

you're gonna learn that every voice has got a song.

Let's raise a Christmas toast of red, red wine,

we'll even sing Sweet Caroline while the whole world sings along.

I hear music in the sound of children laughing.

It's a beautiful noise that fits you like a song.

Makes you wanna have a very merry, holly holy,

cherry cherry Christmas time the whole year long.

The whole year long...

sing your Christmas song...

the whole year long.

Cherry Christmas, Everyone!!!




Sweet Caroline

In stereo!

The Neil Diamond channel on YouTube gets really excited that all its audio is in stereo. Stereo! With an exclamation point! It's 2011, guys! We listen through both ears now! You can "enable" stereo by clicking...a link to the same video you started with? I don't know. It's seriously high tech. Enjoy "Sweet Caroline" in seriously high tech stereo. Exclamation point. No video, but you can enjoy Mr. Diamond staring you down in a sweet necklace for three and a half minutes if that's your thing.