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Neil Diamond Adding ‘Melody Road’ Songs to Tour — But ‘Sweet Caroline’ Isn’t Going Anywhere

Neil Diamond promises that even though he's promoting a new album -- last year's Melody Road -- fans can still count on hearing the old favorites when he hits the road Feb. 27 in Allentown, Pa.

Neil Diamond promises that even though he’s promoting a new album — last year’s Melody Road — fans can still count on hearing the old favorites when he hits the road Feb. 27 in Allentown, Pa.

“There’s always a lot of songs in a show people know,” Diamond told Billboard during a conference call about the tour. “I can’t leave them out, so the shows get bigger and bigger. This show will probably have more songs in it than any show I’ve ever done because I don’t want to take out ‘I Am I Said’ or ‘Sweet Caroline’ or ‘Holly Holy.’ And there are 15 or 20 like those, and I also want to make sure I do a fair share of the new songs and keep the audience involved in every way. It’s going to have a lot of songs, and it’s gonna be a big show.”


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And Diamond says he’s serious about getting those new songs in the mix. “We’re gonna do a bunch of songs from the Melody Road album because they work. We won’t know till we actually do them, but the band is sounding fabulous and I’m in good voice and I feel strong, so I think these are gonna work very well. I have three songs from the new album I want to do. I’m anxious to share them, and there are some of the newer songs I want to do from the last couple of albums, the Rick Rubin albums, and I’m anxious to do those and, of course, the songs that everybody knows. I want to be fresh and enthusiastic about those songs, and I am. For some reason it’s always like the first time I do it … so I really just want to concentrate on the songs and do them as well as possible and have the audience involved in that performance.”

Diamond currently has 63 shows booked for the tour, which plays North America through May 31 then heads over to Europe in June and July. And he hints that there may be more to come. “When I started putting this tour together I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a challenge for me to do a tour that had one show for each of my years?” says Diamond, who turned 74 during January. “I’m gonna try to get as close to 74 shows and cities as possible, and It’s a huge undertaking. It’s a little nervy for me and it’s a little bit scary, but I know that from past experience, that as I do these shows in a tour, I don’t wear down; I get stronger. So I’m not worried about that … but it is a giant challenge. It tells me I’m still young enough to even consider doing that and I expect to do it to the best of my ability, and I’m looking for good results and hopefully good reviews from the audience and critics.”

And even though the tour is top of mind for Diamond right now, he also has a hankering to come up with even more material and make a quick follow-up to Melody Road, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 after its October release.

“I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing,” Diamond says. “When I finish an album, within a matter of weeks I start writing again. I can’t help myself. It’s built into my genetic code as this point. There are songs to be written. I just have that thing that hurries me up and says ‘Don’t sit around and don’t waste time, ’cause it’s fleeting and if you have any songs that are still inside yourself you better get to work.’ That whole concept has become part of me, and as i get to be older it’s a more insistent whisper in my ear — ‘Got to work. Go to work. Do not dawdle. Do not waste time. Write your songs. Do them as well as you possibly can.’ That’s one of the things that motivates me now, that time is limited, so I’m taking advantage of every moment I have to make music. I think that’s my purpose here — to make music and to share my music with people, and I’m on a mission to do that.”