Singer Neil Diamond digs for 'real gold' with new album
Making music is all about "digging inside of yourself" for "real gold", Neil Diamond, one of the bestselling singer-songwriters of all time, told AFP in an interview.
Speaking in London before this week's release of his latest album, "Melody Road", the 73-year-old said that success is often down to luck and being a musician is a gamble.
"It's not a very practical way to live your life, the odds are against you being able to make a living doing it.
"But if you insist then you have to devote yourself almost entirely to it and remain passionate about it," Diamond said.
The Brooklyn native, who has sold 128 million albums with hits such as "Red Red Wine", "Sweet Caroline" and "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon", was in London to promote his latest album.
"Definition of optimism: bringing my sunglasses to London," he joked to his 810,000 Twitter followers as he arrived.
"When you're creating the music, you're compiling ideas, you're digging inside of yourself, you're reflecting on the past," Diamond said.
"It's a pretty difficult process. But it's supposed to be difficult. If it were easy, you couldn't really dig down and get the real gold, the important elements that you're looking for."
- 'A musical journey' -
Dressed in a taupe blazer with a carefully trimmed salt and pepper beard, as he appears on the front of his new album, Diamond met AFP in a luxury hotel and explained that his latest work is very personal.
"The story of Melody Road is the story of my life," Diamond said. "It takes us through my experiences over a period of years, my observations, my impressions... It's a journey, a musical journey."
The musician, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whose music has been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Andrea Bocelli, has stuck to his classic style in his new work.
A mix of rock, country and folk, peppered with love songs, "Melody Road" was greeted as a "schmaltzy but well-crafted honeymoon album" by the Guardian newspaper -- Diamond married his third wife Kate McNeil, three decades his junior, in 2012.
The musician said he tends to avoid being influenced by other music to protect his unique sound, and it seems to be working as his 2008 album, "Home Before Dark" topped charts in the United States and Britain.
"I try to avoid getting involved with or being infected by the music that I hear on the radio, the music that's on records," Diamond said.
"I'm focusing on my music and I have to stay clear of everything else while I'm doing that."
Will he ever retire?
"I think it would be horrid for me, stopping would be very difficult," Diamond said. "It's part of who I am."
Or as he croons on "Melody Road", the title track of the eponymous album: "Melody road I'm on with you, all the way to the end."
© 2014 AFP