When Rolling Stone journalist David Wild approached his hipper-than-thou editors about writing a profile of Neil Diamond for the magazine 20 years ago, he was greeted by more than a few raised eyebrows. Nonetheless, the piece ran and the author has continued to champion the often out-of-style singer he affectionately refers to as “The Jewish Elvis”.
Diamond’s standing in the music world has undergone a renaissance in recent times, thanks mainly to two well-received albums midwifed by Rick Rubin (themselves preceded by a Rubin-produced Johnny Cash cover of Diamond’s Solitary Man). The author occasionally allows himself a “told you so” in these pages but, for the most part, it’s a carefully considered and thoroughly researched biography by a diehard fan refreshingly untainted by a personal agenda.
Wild continually draws from childhood memories, so his family appear as supporting characters in a Fever Pitchstyle chronicle that’s full of warmth and humour – hardly surprising from a writer who’s previously published books on Friends and Seinfeld. His critical appraisals of Diamond’s work are rarely rose-tinted, but offer persuasive arguments that the singer is an important musical figure who’s been overlooked and undervalued for too long.