Friday, 01 August 2008
Always regarded as a great craftsman and tunesmith, Neil Diamond has occupied an unusual place in the American songwriting canon, utilizing his undeniable gifts to sell millions of records but remaining just on the cusp of counterculture acclaim throughout his now 50-year career. With a catalog stuffed with memorable hooks and clever turns of phrase, he nonetheless has remained a terminally un-hip artist, a man whose overwrought self-examination and melodramatic phrasing has kept him from ever achieving the sort of stoic gravitas that has come so naturally to the Bob Dylans and Leonard Cohens of the singer-songwriter world. As such, he provided a particularly daring choice for Rick Rubin, the uber-producer who revived the moribund Johnny Cash 15 years before he attempted a similar renaissance for Diamond on 2005’s 12 Songs. And while Diamond didn’t become an overnight icon for ...