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Book Review: Neil Diamond is Forever… And With Good Reason by Jon Bream

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There’s a very spirited argument running through my head as to whether Neil Diamond is Forever should be published as a book critique or a music review. This beautiful hardbound monster of a book came in the customary brown mailing envelope and the moment it emerged from hiding, music began flowing through my head. Music more clear than any CD could possibly produce and more vivid than any photograph or painting. From the moment you open this volume until hours after its last page is viewed, Neil Diamond’s music will flow flawlessly through your mind.

You are the sun, I am the moon, here are the words, you know the tune… read this.

Masterful fingers will continuously strum a blessed guitar and strings swell higher than an eagle dares to fly… and I hadn’t even opened the damned book yet. Neil Diamond has an incredible talent for placing images in your mind intertwined with music and though sometimes after a period of years you may forget a lyric or two, the music lives on.

As each page turns you find a new image of a career that has spanned decades – and deservedly so. It’s a book that has to be read twice because you don’t want words to distract from the beautifully reproduced images and the music that can’t leave your mind. “I’ll read it after I check out more of the pictures,” you’ll tell yourself.

Fat chance

The next page always seems to have an image that brings up a long-lost memory that compels you to read its description. You find yourself carried away remembering your old 45 collection; deciding not to explain to your kids what a “45” is for fear of making yourself seem or feel too old just yet. Surprise’ll catch you by the image of a Monkees single, then you read where young Neil was approached by Don Kirshner to submit some music for his new TV show. The pre-fab four’s rendition of “I’m a Believer” originally began as a throwaway tune that was a little bit too “bubblegum” for Neil until he became rich overnight from it, setting up his financial freedom to record more masterful works.

And the story of a young delivery boy who made it good in the big city, and then the country, and then the world goes on from there, but it’s the pictures that make this book a worthy addition to any Neil Diamond fan’s collection.

This incredible artist began his career in a long-lost era when music was mostly delivered over three-inch transistor radios in mono laying face down on a beach somewhere. The only alternative was a single five-inch car dashboard speaker bouncing off of a flat windshield. To impress someone under that format was a feat in itself. It was a time when AM radio stations played the Mamas and the Papas, the Smothers Brothers, Steppenwolf, and Barbra Streisand one right after the other and never batted an eye. There were no synthesized instruments or stolen bits and pieces of other musical artists’ work to hide behind. You usually only had no more than three or four minutes to sell your song because radio stations didn’t want listeners wandering off if they didn’t like what was playing at the moment… so that’s all you had – a moment. If you weren’t good you were relegated to that much-avoided category of “one hit wonder.”

Jon Bream has done a great job of building this 8.5 x 11 inch hardbound collection and it is a testament to just how well the author knows his subject. Within its 160 pages you’ll find 225 huge color and 81 black & white photos leaving you with the impression that there can’t possibly be a single photo of Neil that isn’t contained in this volume. The story of Neil’s life and career is inspiring and noteworthy because of its many triumphs and it’s longevity.

The only regret I have of writing this review is having to reduce the size of the incredibly clear and large photos so that they’ll fit on a little computer screen. The only question still looming after reading the book concerns wondering why Neil hasn’t been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet. The next time you go to a fireworks display and sing along with Neil coming to America you can ask yourself the same question.

I highly recommend this book and it holds an honored place on my shelf.

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About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • Don’t be scared, I liked this one 🙂

  • Neil Diamond owes his career to the Monkees???

  • Jet,

    It would be nice if you were to comment once in a while on political articles that weren’t authored by you.

    So why don’t you surprise me, bud?

  • I believe EO asked us to comment more on non political stuff-ask Mr. Nalle I HAVE been commenting on stuff that I didn’t author…

    and who the hell made you hall monitor?

  • That was a friendly question. I’m sorry you’re taking it that way.

  • The implication was that I don’t comment on articles that I don’t write, which isn’t the case.

    I’ve been absent writing this recently.

  • Forget it. My mistake.

  • …besides the political section of this site is so tilted to the right that I have to keep grabbing my monitor to keep it from falling off of the desk!

    Oh the article titles may not give that impression but the comments section should just have a photo do Dick Chenney over it and be done with it.

    There’s things going on in my life behind the scenes Roger that have kept me away, kept me with a quick temper and a fragile state of mind-I’m being fucked over by Medicare-Medicaid, Workman’s comp and Social security all simultaneosly.

    I’ll come back when I think I’m stable. Until then I’ll use my alternate personality to write articles I’m obligated to.

    until then

  • No problem. I’m aware of that. The only reason I brought it all up precisely for that very reason – because it’s so tilted, we need a few more enlightened voices, such as yours, to help restore the balance.

    Take care.

  • #8
    the political section of this site is so tilted to the right that I have to keep grabbing my monitor to keep it from falling off of the desk!
    no truer words were ever typed!

  • I love Neil Diamond. I love the Monkees.

  • …and now that the cymbalta has set in I love you too Cindy

  • Wait a minute-this is a political article-aren’t all ND fans republican?

  • Neil Diamond owes his career to the Monkees???

    As a Brill Building songwriter, Neil wrote a modest hit for Jay and the Americans before Don Kirschner tapped him as a songwriter for the Monkees. But along with other Brill-ers like Goffin/King and Mann/Weill, he came up with several fine pop tunes for the boys. In addition to “I’m A Believer,” he did “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” both fine pop-rock trax.

  • Thanks Bill, I wanted to include those but the article was getting too long and I wanted to concentrate on the pictures.

    Now that I’ve written the article his music is stuck in my head.

    I was going by what the book said about him wanting to do more serious stuff, he said he thought he had to “Live it down” for years afterward and that why he started writing more cerebral materal.

    I still think it’s an injustice that he’s not in the R&R hall of fame… yet

  • Evan

    Jackson Browne should have attended the Neil Diamond tribute

  • Indeed he should have Evan

  • Evan

    yes he should have but none of them are on tour

  • It’s all insider politics Evan, nothing more

  • Evan

    yes but im proud of Jackson Browne for meeting Paul Williams and ps Paul Williams is close to Neil Diamond and youre right nothing more theyre all just people with talent

  • Update:

    Neil Diamond is a married man for the third time.

    The 71-year-old singer said “I do” to his manager-sweetheart Katie McNeil in Los Angeles Saturday in front of family and friends, according to People.

    While Diamond is keeping mum regarding details of the ceremony for now, the “Sweet Caroline” crooner was much more vocal when he announced news of the couple’s engagement via Twitter last September.

    “Good news coming from sunny LA/ and you’re the first I want to tell/ Katie & I just got engaged/ and I hope you wish us well,” Diamond wrote.

    The couple met in 2009 while making Diamond’s doc, Neil Diamond: Hot August Night NYC, which McNeil executive produced, according to the Daily Mail.

    This is the first marriage for McNeil and the third for Diamond, who forked over a reported $150 million to his ex-wife Marcia Murphey when they divorced in 1995.