A Neil Diamond Is Forever

June 13, 2012

Who hasn’t cried, “I am!” when no one’s around? No, not while in the throes of an existential crisis, but during an epic bedroom karaoke rendition of the Neil Diamond jam “I Am … I Said.” That’s one of many timeless tunes from this legend of popular song, many of which he’s performing on a greatest-hits tour.

Backstory: Diamond, a Brill Building songwriter in the early ’60s, found tremendous success composing smashes for the Monkees (“I’m a Believer,” “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You”). But when you have baritone pipes as golden as Diamond’s, singing your own songs becomes a must.

Hit Machine: His first hit as a solo artist was 1966’s “Solitary Man,” and Diamond went on to crank out 37 Top 40 hits. Even after he established himself as a solo star, artists continued to cover Diamond gems and have chart success, including UB40 (“Red, Red Wine”) and Urge Overkill (“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”).

Good to Know: The 1969 song “Sweet Caroline” is now a sporting-event staple, with drunken yahoos screaming the “bah, bah, bah” bits. But the song’s non-buffoonish inspiration was a photo of President John F. Kennedy’s 9-year-old daughter.

Don’t Miss: Diamond is a sensitive man’s best friend, as proved by his delicate 1972 beauty “Play Me.”

Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW; Thu., 8 p.m., $55-$120; 202-628-3200. (Gallery Place)
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Rudi Greenberg | June 13, 2012