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Neil Diamond: 5 Songs That Influenced Me

The veteran songwriter looks back on the music that shaped him, from the Rolling Stones to the Everly Brothers

Neil Diamond: Five Songs That Influenced Me

Recording artist Neil Diamond performs onstage at Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Debra Lee at The Beverly Hilton on February 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Michael Kovac/Getty

Neil Diamond is currently on the road in the U.S., in the midst of a lengthy world tour celebrating his 50th anniversary as a recording artist. “It’s been very heartening to me,” the singer-songwriter told Rolling Stone in December after seeing the positive response to the initial shows that went on sale. “I’ve been doing this 50 years and to have an audience that’s out there and anxious and enthusiastic is exciting.” In the spirit of the tour, Diamond reminisced about five songs that shaped his musical direction.

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Lonnie Donegan, “Rock Island Line”

I first heard this when I started playing guitar. It was a combination of folk and rock & roll, and it angled me into the world of Woody Guthrie.

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The Everly Brothers, “Bye Bye Love”

If you were a teenager into music at this time, you loved the Everly Brothers. Anybody could do harmonies, but nobody had their sound.

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Peter, Paul and Mary, “Blowin’ in the Wind”

This actually talked about current events. It spoke about an issue that had been boiling for years and was ready to make itself known.

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The Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction”

This had a black groove, not only by white people but non-American white people. They were as responsible as the Beatles for the British Invasion.

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Ritchie Valens, “La Bamba”

It had the most infectious rhythm, with a certain magic that you hope for when you make a record. It was also fresh, with a great groove. 

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