Neil Diamond, sometimes dubbed the “Jewish Elvis,” is back in the spotlight this week with an upcoming Christmas album and a new book, Neil Diamond is Forever by Jon Bream, who debated the star’s merits with humorist Dave Barry on WNYC yesterday. They focused on the seemingly age-old question: Why hasn’t Diamond been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Sure, bands like Kiss waited ten years before getting a nomination, but Diamond has been making music for 40 years, and his songs have been covered by more than 100 artists. Still, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner’s selection committee passed over Diamond again in favor of other smooth favorites such as LL Cool J and Donna Summer. Love him or think his lyrics are pure cheese (or both), with 37 hit singles and 16 Top Ten albums, it is difficult to claim that he hasn’t contributed “to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” the Hall of Fame’s requirement.
Diamond’s rabid fans will have to comfort themselves this year with the schmaltz on his October 13 album, A Cherry Cherry Christmas. And in defense of his Yiddishkeit, it even contains one Hanukkah song, a “party-time” version of Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” with DJ Ashba.