Now they're believers

New generation takes a shine to Neil Diamond

Staff Writer  

Published November 23, 2001

© 2001 The Dallas Morning News

If Generation X had its Tony Bennett, Generation Y has Neil Diamond.

Mr. Diamond has written some of the catchiest tunes in pop music: "Kentucky Woman," "Red Red Wine," "Sweet Caroline," "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon." His numbers are huge: He's had 38 Top 40 hits with three No. 1 singles: "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Song Sung Blue," and "Cracklin' Rosie." He was the top solo concert act of the '90s, and last year he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

Yet there was a time when he was abandoned, cast aside like so many tie-dye shirts and bell-bottom pants.

But bell-bottoms are back, and so is Mr. Diamond.

It took a younger generation - including cultural "visionaries" like Tenacious D's Jack Black - to rediscover the "solitary man" and put him back on the pedestal.

Gary Maxwell, 34, is a lifelong fan who sings in a local Neil Diamond tribute band called Diamondbag.

"When I was a kid, I can remember driving around in the back of the Pontiac with my parents, listening to 'Hot August Night,'" he says.

Mr. Diamond's appeal is multidimensional and multigenerational, Mr. Maxwell says.

"There's that comfort that comes from hearing something familiar, but 'Cherry Cherry' is just a great three-chord pop song. I think people are just into good songs. I went and saw him in Fort Worth in '95, and one thing I noticed is how multigenerational it was. You'd have a grandmother there with her daughter and her daughter."

A lifelong fan, Mr. Maxwell has watched Mr. Diamond's journey from yesterday's news to latest thing.

"He's always been there and had his audience - his tours have always sold out - but he is coming back," he says. "It's like the Tony Bennett thing a few years ago: What used to be uncool is cool."

But, he maintains, Mr. Diamond's resurgence is based not in irony but on real talent.

"It goes back to the music. Tony Bennett doesn't write his own songs, whereas Neil Diamond is in the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. There's a reason for that. He writes great songs."

back to News >>