“There’s a mystery to writing, and you don’t really know where most of it comes from.”—Neil Diamond
Today is the birthday of one of songwriting’s and the entertainment world’s greats, Neil Leslie Diamond, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but a gift to America and the world. And, this great musician almost took his talents in a different direction.
A terrific athlete, he attended New York University on a fencing scholarship and was a member of the 1960 NCAA championship team. But his life ambition was to be a laboratory biologist “and find a cure for cancer (his grandmother died of the disease); I sincerely thought I could discover the cure,” he said. But during his senior year, a music publishing company made him a dream offer he couldn’t refuse – writing songs at $50 each, a huge amount in those days.
His singing and songwriting have been lucrative beyond even those lofty early days. He’s written hundreds of songs for himself and others and had 11 number one hits. To date he’s sold $140 million worth of them around the globe – the third highest grossing solo performer in history. His secret?
“The main objective in any song I write has always been that it reflect the way I feel, that it touch me when I’m finished with it; that it moves me, that it can take me along with it and involve me in what it’s saying. Songs are life – in 80 words or less.”
A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Kennedy Center honoree, his 11 Number One songs include Heartlight, perhaps the only song ever written for an Extraterrestrial (It celebrated filmdom's E.T.), and Sweet Caroline, which has become a standard for almost every sporting venue – even though Boston Red Sox fans say it was their idea first. The “bah, bah, bah” refrain may be the most sung phrase in the world, next to Happy Birthday, of course.
So, Happy Birthday … bah, bah, bah!
Here’s a link to another of Diamond’s number ones, the terrific and poignant I am … I said.
Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.