Paul Simon introduced 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neil Diamond to the stage by pointing out that Diamond has been eligible for induction for 20 years and asks, “Why so long?” Simon theorizes, “Six words: ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore.‘ Beautiful love song. Recorded with Barbra Streisand, one of the great voices of our time. But Barbra Streisand, rock and roll? I don’t think they even allow that kind of DNA near this place.” Later in the evening, Diamond kicked it into high gear and performed three of his fan favorites.
When Diamond took the podium to receive his long-awaited induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he had just stepped off a 25-hour flight from Australia, where he had been touring. ”Where am I?” he jokes. ”What are we doing here?” Diamond had previously been passed over for induction into the Hall of Fame, because even though he is well respected for his skills as a songwriter, he’s also an entertainer who’s made a career of appealing to Middle America with what the Hall of Fame and Museum would consider mainstream tunes.
[pullquote quote=”Even if you didn’t vote for me, I still love you.” credit=”Neil Diamond”]Neil Diamond explains that Paul Shaffer chose the songs for the evening which Diamond played to raucous cheers and applause. He started off with his first big hit which was issued as a 45 single in 1966 and reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart: “Cherry Cherry.” Diamond flash-forwards to 1971 with one of his more deeply personal efforts that hit #4 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart: “I Am I Said.” Finally, Diamond finishes on the song he must sing for every encore he’s ever sung since 1969 when he released it as a single, “Sweet Caroline.” Diamond announced, “I’m flying back tomorrow to Sydney Australia, because they love me there, and I’m gonna keep coming back until they stop loving me.”