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NEW YORK — Neil Diamond may have retired from the road due to Parkinson’s disease, but he said he’s working hard to get back onstage.
“Well, I’m doing pretty well. I’m active. I take my meds. I do my workouts. I’m in pretty good shape. I’m feeling good. I want to stay productive. I still have my voice. I just can’t do the traveling that I once did, but I have my wife there supporting me (and) friends,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“It does have its challenges, but I’m feeling good and I feel very positive about. I’m feeling better every day,” he added. “Just dealing with it as best I can, and just keep the music coming.”
The 77-year-old canceled planned concerts when he announced he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in January. Still, fans will be able to see the icon perform with “Hot August Night Ill,” a live concert CD/DVD chronicling his return to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in August 2012. It’s out today.
The two-hour-plus performance featuring 33 songs celebrated the 40th anniversary of his original “Hot August Night” live album, also recorded at the Greek in August 1972. He performed 10 shows at the venue that month.
“It brings back memories — very deep, loving and warm memories,” he said of his performance. “Playing there and doing music relating to the audience, it was special. It’s a special experience for me.”
He said he re-watched the 2012 footage recently as it was edited for the new release, and he calls it “one of the best live performances that I’ve done and I’m proud of it.”
“I love the chemistry with the audience and myself. That’s part of the thrill of the whole thing. There’s a little magic involved in it,” he said. “I’m just going to keep on keeping on, and that’s about it.”
“The thing I love most about live performing is that it’s very much in the moment. It’s just something that you really can’t describe,” he continued. “You just have to be there and let the moment happen. Let yourself connect with the audience. Let that relationship with the audience express itself. It’s a powerful tool.”
Diamond is one of music’s best-selling singers with a number of hit songs, from “Sweet Caroline” to “America” to “Love on the Rocks.”
He’s given one-song performances since his Parkinson’s diagnosis, including at the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June and last month for firefighters battling a blaze near his Colorado home.
He said he’s not sure he can perform more than one song at the moment, but added: “The only way I could find out is to actually do it.”
“But I think I can and I will give it a try at some point,” he added. “I’m glad to still be around. The fact that I’m still singing well is a bonus and I hope to continue doing it, but in a format that I can handle.”
Could a residency be a possibility?
“Well, I feel I can do it. I want to do it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of resting up, finding the time, preparing, and then just doing the show.”