Acoustic Neil by Jerry Giles
The music of Neil Diamond in acoustic sets as performed by Jerry Giles
Jerry goes acoustic!
As a Neil Diamond impersonator, Neil Diamond tribute artist, impersonators, tributes or whatever we may be called, what we all have in common is the pleasure of bringing you the music of Neil Diamond. Many of us also play the guitar, which brings a little something else to the experience. What is lost in production value on an anthem like “America” is more than made up for with the intimacies of so many others like “Play Me”, “I am…I said” and “Solitary Man”. This solo acoustic offering really is a ‘solitary man’, because it is just me, my voice and my guitar.
Whether I’m playing the newer hits like those from “12 Songs”, or I’m playing his country rock classics like “Kentucky Woman”, “Cherry, Cherry”, “I’m a Believer” or many other of his early hits, the sound is all live and all acoustic.
Inspired by the simple approach of “12 Songs”, I have gone back to basics just as Neil did. I will try to be as true as I can to the songs. The fact is that the lyrics are all that any of his songs ever needed. His lyrics have been that good from his earliest days as a songwriter. Then he added the guitar first. There may have been an exception in songs like “Hello Again”, “America”, “Love on the Rocks” or a few others. Even “Sweet Caroline” was written on an acoustic guitar with a heart that sings out, “good times never seemed so good!”
That’s what I’m after in the new sets that I’m performing in clubs and private parties. Some places are just not appropriate settings for the full bravado of “America” or “Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show”. For those more intimate settings where what you really want is a warm acoustic sound, mellow voice and Neil’s words, then I am your guy with this new offering of tunes.
A single guitar is perfect for the sweet and delicate songs like “Men are so easy”, or for the bolder splashes and heavy strumming country rock like “Kentucky Woman” or “Cherry, Cherry”, or songs like “Hell, Yeah”. It’s all about the intimate experience.
Another advantage of a setting like this is that you can request so many other Neil tunes that you wouldn’t dare expect of a full band. How could they know that many songs? Yet, with me you could request such obscure songs as “Porcupine Pie”, “Stones”, “Captain Sunshine”, “Gitchy Goomy”, and so many more that are fun to reminisce over and to sing along with. This show is a celebration of all of Neil’s music and gives you an opportunity to sing along and join the fun.
Neil Diamond most certainly doesn’t need my endorsement or accolades, but, as I am a fan first and and foremost, I must say that to me “12 Songs” is one of the greatest compilations of music ever. I can’t take it out of my CD player, whether in my car or my home. The simplicity that he and Rick Rubin achieved is amazing. It is truly all about great lyrics with the most minimal of back-up. I believe there are only drums on one song. Their usage of 12 string guitars, Hammond organ on a few songs and a few other stringed instruments makes you feel that you are in a coffee house with a great sound. Or, maybe a friend’s back porch on a cool evening listening to great tunes as someone just pulled out their guitar. It feels that intimate.
It reminds me of “The Jazz Singer” when Neil just had to get back to his roots, when the studio life of a “star” had gotten the best of him. He left town on a bus and ended up in the middle of nowhere. He bought a guitar at a pawn shop and went to work locally working for tips, but he loved it! His music could be simple again, without all the pressures of being in a studio with a full orchestration, etc. Neil’s character had “found” himself and, indeed, his love for music.
I don’t know if anything that cathartic happened in Neil’s cabin as he prepared and wrote for “12 Songs”, but I know it was cathartic to me as I listened to it. It renewed and invigorated my love for the acoustic guitar. It reminded me that great lyrics backed by even a single acoustic guitar can be as grand as the largest orchestra. It took me back to my earliest days of performing in college, and long afterwards as I made part of my living playing coffee houses and pubs with just a trusty acoustic guitar. I hope to take you back to a simpler time and let you belt out a verse or two with me. Foot tapping, swaying to the beat, singing along, and almost uncontrollable smiles are optional, but almost guaranteed, audience behavior.
Many years later I got to be in a short written and directed by Lynda Tarryk. It’s called Maverick and it’s about a guy who gets back to what made him love music. Sound familiar? And what was the music that he loved? Well, Neil Diamond, of course. Check it out, Maverick