Neil Diamond is about to embark on the final leg of his latest world tour, but he's already put his next album with producer Rick Rubin in motion. "We're going to make believe there's no such thing as

Neil Diamond is about to embark on the final leg of his latest world tour, but he's already put his next album in motion.

The veteran singer tells Billboard.com that he recently met with Rick Rubin, who produced his last two albums and they've set a meeting for Jan. 12, four days after Diamond's final concert, to start planning the follow-up to his recent chart-topping "Home Before Dark."

"I told (Rubin) I want to start writing on the 12th," says Diamond, who hits the road Saturday in Grand Forks, N.D., for a 17-show North American run. "He said, 'Why don't you not start writing and let's sit down and talk about what the concept is and what we're gonna do.' I said, 'Good idea,' so we'll meet on the 12th and go from there."

Diamond says he and Rubin have "spoken about an idea we both like" but adds it's "too early in the process" to talk about it, other than to say that he expects it will be "a different concept, a different approach to the album than we've had on" "Home Before Dark" and 2005's "12 Songs."

There's material left from both albums including a few songs Diamond considers "really wonderful recordings," but he says he and Rubin still plan to "start fresh. We're going to make believe there's no such thing as songs in the can. We don't know if the songs we've recorded are going to be meaningful or even usable on this next album."

Before fans hear the new music, however, Diamond plans to deliver a souvenir of the tour, which has so far played to nearly a million fans in nine countries since May. He says the show has been filmed, and he expects to roll it out in the new year as a television special as well as a DVD.

"I'm very pleased with it," Diamond says. "I've always felt you could never really replicate the experience of being at a concert, but this film comes as close to replicating it as anything I've ever seen."

Diamond will be honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year on Feb. 6, 2009, in Los Angeles, and he'll also be acknowledged two nights later during the 51st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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