Saturday, October 8, 2011

Neil and my nervous breakdown

Brief interview with Neil Diamond on American Bandstand in 1966. There is so much to love about this. He looks 12 years old (to be fair, he looked 12 until he was in his 30s, the bastard). He has great hair, but then Dick Clark asks him a stupid question about long hair, which is hilarious in retrospect. Neil is too nervous to look at Dick Clark while talking, but watch at the very beginning for his instinctual "hey baby" suave look at the girls shrieking at him.

Solitary Man video performance from 1966. Includes bonus original nose.

Neil with Johnny Cash in 1970. He's started growing his hair out and he's gotten over his nervousness. The banter before the song is corny, but don't blame me, I wasn't even born in 1970. I just report the facts. Once again, the host has to compliment Neil on his hair, but you have to admit, Neil had the best hair in show business. No offense to Gary Sandy.

BBC concert from 1971. UPDATE: I changed this to the full version instead of the edited 30 minute version which was released on UK DVD. The edited version omits two songs and some really nice banter. Small audience, intimate performance. The version of "I Am...I Said" at 30:00 will ruin your life forever. If you want to see just that song and not the whole thing, try here, but the video quality isn't quite as good.

Promotional film to go along with the studio recording of "I Am...I Said" from 1972.

Audio-only interview with Geraldo Rivera on August 13, 1976 before his concert at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, after the nearly four-year hiatus he took at the height of his career. Includes a little sound check audio and performance audio at the end. I think this is audio recorded from a television broadcast. You youngin's don't remember, but in the days before VCRs we would put a tape recorder in front of the TV to record shows. Some "Doctor Who" episodes survive only in audio that fans recorded this way.

Absolutely insane 47-minute interview during Neil's Australian tour in 1976. The sound goes out of synch halfway through; the whole interview can be found on the DVD release of the concert footage.

According to the anchor, it's the first real in-depth interview he had ever given on television, and Diamond says early on that he agreed to the interview because he wanted to counter his image in the press.

UPDATE: I have the dates wrong on this. The drug bust thing was about 3 months after this, but I'll leave the story because it's interesting.

The media in mid-1976 was filled with news of his drug bust on the day before the launch of his comeback tour. A few dozen federal agents swarmed his house as he was packing for the tour, brought there by an anonymous tip that Neil had shitloads of cocaine in his house. He did not, but they did find less than half an ounce of pot, which was not a federal crime. It was a crime in California at the time, though, so a few months after this interview he went before a judge, pleaded not guilty, and was given diversion. That's like probation for misdemeanors. Go ahead, ask me how I know this. When he completed drug counseling, the charges were dropped. The big news about this was that Neil had been adamantly anti-drug prior to this, so he came across as a hypocrite. Like all things, time has dampened the scandal, but the news coverage is probably the first memory I have of Neil Diamond.

If you ever wondered why Neil Diamond is considered so damn sexy, watch the concert footage early in the clip. Those hips in those pants, and then the breeze pulls through his hair at just the right moment.

I know it's a long interview, but give it about 14 minutes or so because it's fascinating to see Neil when he drops his defenses. He's honest from the very beginning, but he's often very guarded, hidden behind tinted glasses and defensive postures.

Also, glory in the fashions of 1976. Hipsters would pay hundreds for knock-off vintage copies of those glasses.

"I Am...I Said" again, this time at the Greek in 1976.

I'm watching a ton of Neil Diamond concerts, TV performances and interviews during a pretty spectacular nervous breakdown tonight. You may have seen mention of this on my Twitter, which I use infrequently. So infrequently that in my inexperience typed "@NeilDiamond" instead of "#NeilDiamond" and thus directly tweeted news of my emotional distress to a major, international celebrity. I'm sure he appreciated that.

For some reason the sight of a 30-year-old Neil on an old album cover a few days ago triggered an enormous emotional response that I cannot fully define, and of course one of Neil's most famous lyrics is "I am lost and I can't even say why." So I am fluxing between relating to that and feeling like an idiot for relating to that. To semi-define the problem, I'm absolutely consumed with this overwhelming feeling of loss for the past, and it becomes unbearable in the context of Neil Diamond. (See for yourself.)

We all go through life accepting that we get older and everything changes, but for some inexplicable reason I have lost that acceptance and am pretty much just wailing and gnashing my teeth about it 24/7. Maybe posting will help get it out of my head for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I'm being too hard on Neil "not having it anymore" as I implied with a link above. This is similar bootleg footage from 2008.