Neil Diamond is on tour celebrating 50 years, performing dates around the world.
Making my second visit to watch him on stage at Leeds Arena, I felt it was time to finally visit one of the albums that inspired the re-introduction of my vinyl collection and this album thread.
Faithless, Jason Donovan, Ben Folds & Neil Diamond.
These are the bands and artists who my friends and family associate with me. It may not be the most eclectic mix of musical minds, but it is a group of talent that has been important to me growing up.
Neil Diamond will always be associated with my dad who passed away in 1994 when I was 13 years old. I had always imagined he was a huge fan of the 70s superstar – perhaps because of their shared charisma and open top shirts, but also thanks to his Diamond dominated record collection.
Dads record collection included classic albums such as Love at the Greek, Stones, Moods, Beautiful Noise, The Jazz Singer and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I am sad to say that I don’t own any of his records anymore – but as I look to develop a vinyl collection for my boys that gives them a tangible narrative of who I am, I am keen to ensure that Neil Diamond is properly listed.Photograph of Dad
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Over the years I have read all the books, watched the film and listened to each album over and over again. Selecting an LP that doesn’t include Little M’s current bedtime lullaby ‘I am I Said…’ and ‘ Song Sung Blue’ seems crazy. I should also acknowledge that on several occasions ‘Red Red Wine’ has been serenaded to me as a result of my love for the grape!
I have chosen ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers‘ for the next addition to my collection, as I feel it is the most reflective of Neil Diamond and the memories I have of my dad.
Compared to the soundtrack albums, fascinating production in the live records or his career-defining releases, by all accounts ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ was thrown together to capitalise on the success of the duet with Barbra Streisand.
What songs remind you of your parents? Is this the best Neil Diamond Album?
Perhaps it is because of this that the album showcases a wide variety of genres than his more focused conceptual records, with country, ballad, pop and disco’esque tracks all featuring.
After years of listening to my dad’s record, I have been confused to why it doesn’t sound right on Spotify. On the return to vinyl, I have been reminded that it was never designed to be played from beginning to end, but with a break halfway through. Each side is a journey.
His twelfth studio album, ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ was released in 1978 and has contributed to Neil Diamonds worldwide album sales of over 130,000. For an LP recorded so many years ago, the production quality still impresses me – the album cover, however, is perhaps a little less inspiring, although it does show the main attraction.
The American Popular Song.
Even now I prefer songs with a proper introduction. The string orchestra opens proceedings with a classic 70’s prelude, ahead of The American Popular Song, that no matter what my mood has always made me clap my hands and tap my feet.
Forever in Blue Jeans.
I always thought he said ‘Reverend Blue Jeans’ and it was a song about the church. I am learning so much doing my album notebook.
This song showcases Neil Diamond at his best, with gritty vocals working to an emotional crescendo. About past friendships, past loves, and places travelled it has always been about one person for me.
You Got Your Troubles.
A cover of the 1964 hit by the Kestrels, the song captures the same values as Neil Diamonds own compositions. A great country rhythm against lyrics that tell a story whilst enabling the audience to consider their own interpretation.
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.
A classic song, the duet with Barbra Streisand (his former school classmate) always finishes too soon. As with many of Neil Diamonds compositions, it is sincere and honest. It was in my late 20’s I first listened and related to this beautiful and emotional story about the end of a relationship.
The Dancing Bumble Bee/Bumble Boogie.
From the emotional climax of ‘Side A’ I always looked forward to flipping the record to a track that tested by drumming stamina through my teenage years as I would play along to this energetic dance track.
Mothers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons.
I would love to know more about the origin of this song; as I explore parenthood, it takes a different meaning each time.
Continuing the upbeat tempo of the album this disco track feels it was produced purely for live performance with lots fist pumping accents and vocal crescendos.
With a sound of the Partridge family, Say Maybe plays perfectly in the late 70’s pop culture.
I would love to hear a full version of the guitar solo in the final track of the album. Nieve to the story of the song and the brilliant wordplay of the title until my 30’s, this could play for hours without me getting bored.
50 Years of Music
‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ captures the appeal, performance and songcraft that has enabled Neil Diamond to remain an international superstar for over fifty years.
Featuring in many key moments of my life (we even share the same birthday) there is a reasonable chance that my Dad wasn’t actually a huge fan according to my older brother. This has given me the inspiration to re-build my vinyl collection to pass on to my boys with posts that outline my journey with a given album to avoid any confusion.
Considered to be insecure and a showman at the same time, Neil Diamond seems to be a complicated individual who has been challenged by conflicts within his own personality.
This depth is reflected in his songwriting which combined with the magic and nostalgia of his music has ensured he was still the top solo performer of 1990s and a personal favourite of mine.
Classic Neil Diamond
It was so hard to select an album that captured the essence of Neil Diamond, especially with so many well-known songs across more than 42 albums. ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ is a classic late seventies easy listening album with a mix of uptempo tracks intertwined with songs full of vulnerability and emotion.