Thanks for dropping by!
This CD is a solitary work of a longtime Neil Diamond fan and a hobbyist musician. My music never really left my apartment to the world out there before except for occasional home recordings to family members. However, I have been playing music all my life. It’s my passion and companion. When things get difficult to handle and the world gets to me, music holds me together. I come home to my friends (instruments) and pick one of them to play whatever comes through my fingers and get lost in my very own world. I have always wanted to dedicate something to the Legend and since I play music anyway and a lot of his among others, I thought it would be nice to share with you the things I do. This is my way of saying to the Legend, “Thank you for the music.”
I felt this was the time to do it or otherwise I probably would have never done it. After losing first a good job, something personal, even dreams, I was only left with music and the inspirations I received from being at the Neil Diamond concerts. I realized that there will always be some downtimes in our lives, but the inspirations are hard to come by. If I don’t grab them now, I may lose them. My oldest sister also realized that the time was now, and she started giving me the encouragement that I really needed. I would record a song and play it for her over the phone to England. There were times I wanted to give it all up. It was just too much work for one person and financially burdensome without an income, but I didn’t give up. I couldn’t; it was all I had left at that time. Sometimes after fine-tuning a few songs, I would find someone professional, pay for a session and get their feedback. Also I knew some musicians at various music stores where I shopped, who would lend their ears from time to time. Everything helped. In the process, I learned a lot of things, but I have a long way to go. People were very helpful and gave me positive feedback. I don’t know when I will be able to do another one. Otherwise I would very much like to do one more tribute album with a few musicians. Perhaps an ambitious project with a two-cd set?
I spent the money I didn’t have to see this album a reality! You can’t put a price on passion. I couldn’t afford long studio hours or other musicians. If some of you enjoy what I have presented, I can call it an accomplishment! It was a lot of hard work to publish this CD and if I count the number of hours, it would be in higher 3 digits! Every moment of it was joyous until I had to get down to the business of music, producing, marketing, working with studio engineers, graphic and web designers, writing everything such as the CD inserts and web contents, coordinating pictures, etc. I took the photographs used for CD cover and general layout during (late 2001 and early 2002) my trips to different places for Neil Diamond concerts. The designer chose the photos of the mountains in Colorado (Where I almost lost control of the car twice by driving so fast. I slowed down of course just in time, didn’t panic, survived, took the pictures and saw Neil Diamond at the concert in Denver, and “Thanked the Lord.”) and California coast! The easiest of all was licensing from Sony Music. It took about a month, but it was painless!
How did it all begin?
Everything started when I went to see Neil Diamond at the concerts! After being a fan since 1975 (I wasn’t in the U.S. then), Madison Square Garden in New York, October 2001 was my first ever! It was an incredible experience. Yes, I got on the plane at San Jose, California en route to New York exactly one month after the 9-11 tragedy when many people were still afraid of flying. The lady sitting next to me tried to say something and I stopped her by saying, “Don’t even think about anything. This plane is going to New York and you’re going home to Connecticut. I have a very good reason for going to New York and nothing can stop me.” She thanked me for being so positive, etc. It was a very smooth flight, no turbulence even! Two concerts at the Madison Square Garden will remain a very special memory for as long as I shall live! After that I went to several west coast concerts and something stirred up in me. I would come home from a concert, unload my car and before I would bother to unpack, I would simply reach for my mandolin or the keyboard and play until my fingers would start to hurt. Since I lost my job with the downfall of Silicon Valley, I had all the time in the world. The more I played, better I sounded and improvisations became easier and easier.
After a while I found myself paying close attention to arrangements, orchestrations, etc. While I kept my eyes fixed on Neil Diamond, singing and dancing along, my ears were focused on the overall background music. Then of course at home and in the car I was listening to the songs I was going to do over and over again. Sometimes I did look up the book briefly. For a while, I was practically living inside those songs, becoming one with them. One day, all of a sudden I found myself writing music of my own and I have now about 12 or so tunes (two included on this CD) awaiting arrangements. When I decided to invest in a professional-quality synthesizer about two months ago, I became more inspired than ever before. And yes, a fine but affordable digital recording machine was a must. How else could I’ve tried my arrangements?
If you would like to know more or have any specific questions about machines, recording, cost, time, etc, feel free to send me emails at email@example.com. I would be more than happy to share what I know.
Now I would talk briefly about making of each song (not in any order). I know many people would’ve liked to hear many other songs and if I could I would do all the ones you want to hear. I have selected several popular tunes for this album. The ones that aren’t so popular, are very dear to me and I believe they are dear to the Legend himself and some of you out there. I did this CD because I wanted to and therefore; I wasn’t compelled to limit myself to ten or so popular songs only! From hundreds of his beautiful songs, I wanted to touch some of the very special ones, popular or not! And by doing so, if I have touched a few souls, I would know it was worth the effort! There is almost an hour of beautiful music on this CD. Enjoy!
This was the first song I did a long time ago and originally it was on pop/rock beats. I knew all along that it would sound good on mandolin and strings. One evening I stumbled upon a cool Samba rhythm and octave piano on the keyboard and all of a sudden, I was in Rio doing the Samba with Solitary Man! By playing around with the rhythm and the piano, I found my introduction. Then mandolin, strings, flute and piano arpeggios completed the song to my satisfaction. It may sound short and easy, but it took a long time to perfect it!
(mandolin and keyboard)
Another good candidate for mandolin. Since I have an electric one, often I incorporate guitar effects to get sort of a hybrid sound. I kept the tune in country-western flavor, using a country-western rhythm, fiddle etc. After recording it, I played the tune for a few musician types and they all found it to be uplifting! Hence it became the first song on the CD.
(mandolin and keyboard)
I’m a Believer
Definitely a mandolin song and I have been playing it for a long time before I even thought of making this CD. First I did it on Hip Hop style. After finding the cool Samba, I changed the style and I really liked the second version. Well, now you can all Samba to “I’m a Believer.” Let me know how it goes!
(mandolin and keyboard)
Being a great lover of classical music all my life, I’ve always wanted to do something in classical flavor. One of my favorite songs, “Dear Father” was an excellent candidate. (keyboard)
They are everywhere. I sometimes see them at night with silver wings flying over the highways and it’s absolutely fascinating to see them in the dark! The combinations of the beautiful scenery and the seagulls with silver wings have always been very uplifting for me. I hope that the “Skybird’ on the CD captures that spirit! Again mandolin was used here with very different (lighter sounding) effects in the background. It was a fun, bonus song for those who like it. Someday I wish to do a better orchestration on it. (mandolin and keyboard)
Not an easy song. I worked on it for days and finally I got the amount of inspirations I needed the day the Legend turned 62! The final version was completed as a celebration of his birthday. I’ve listened to this song for years, but it didn’t touch me so deeply until I saw Neil Diamond deliver it with such feelings. Of all 26 times, I found the entire experience to be truly spiritual! I tried to capture that by playing with all the feelings I could convey via instruments. One very interesting thing about the tune is that it has sort of an Indian-style chord progression. Therefore, an Indian introduction seemed to fit in perfectly. It just came to me. Most of the original phrases are there. I did my best without a real orchestra and am happy about the result. Hope you like it. (keyboard)
The Last Picasso
Yeah! Being a “Serenade” girl, I’ve always listened to it for years and loved it. But the idea to do a dance sequence on it came to me about 9/10 months ago when I received a very different version of the song via email. Apparently, it was being passed around. I got mine from a friend in Canada. When I didn’t open it for two hours (she must have been reading me or something!), came another email urging me to open it immediately. The minute the song started to play on the computer, I almost fell off the chair before I could even get to the main part. Interesting rhythm and certain vocal noises were absolutely seductive! The song was being discussed in the message boards and chat rooms probably worldwide for a while and I knew then there are many LP lovers out there. What could be more fun than to get you all up on your feet? The Caribbean flavor fulfilled my intentions. Have fun! (keyboard)
Is beautiful noise! It’s on a carnival theme and I borrowed arrangements from two versions of the original song and put my own touch here and there as usual. “Cracklin’ Rosie” seemed to go well with it almost effortlessly. Sounded good and I was happy! (keyboard)
You Are The Best Part of Me
What a lovely song! I don’t know if anyone is thinking about doing it, but I wanted to be the first to try one of these new songs. This is another song that I liked more and more at the concerts. I’ve been playing it on the keyboard from the very beginning, but it took a long time to find the right instrument sounds for the melody part. Sax was the winner! Then clarinet, strings, harp, harpsichord/strings, and flute completed the orchestration. (keyboard)
Oh, I couldn’t have an album without it! One evening I was playing around with some built-in rhythms on the keyboard. A particular reggae style sounded pretty. All of a sudden I was playing “Sweet Caroline” on pan flute and I loved it right away. This was the song that I first played for my rhythm-master friend in the lobby of a hotel after a concert in December 2002. I always carry my music with me on a portable minidisc player. I asked him if he could spare a couple of minutes listening to a tune. He gladly agreed. The moment the song started to play, I saw him shake a little and he said, “I like it.” You have no idea what that meant to me! The comment came from a talented, experienced musician and not from a friend or a family member. When I told him about wanting to do a tribute CD on Neil Diamond music, he gave me all the necessary info to get started and we’ve just met for the first time! What a kind and a generous person he’s. Like all the other songs, this also took many trials and errors to find a satisfactory level. (keyboard)
Red Red Wine
With harp, classical guitar, and harpsichord, a classical flavor is added to the pop/country theme. Then with rhythm in bolero, it’s a work of fusion and is very relaxing. The tune was played with a lot of feelings to preserve the mood of the song. So get your wine and relax! (keyboard)
I did it first a long time ago without the orchestration. I tried to capture the Shilo-moments (the moments that I remember) the best way I could. This song is very dear to me. (keyboard)
I’ve Been This Way Before/Songs of Life
This is the song that introduced me to Neil Diamond back in Asia about 28 years ago! It’s my first love and the dearest song of all! I couldn’t have put out my first album without it. I’ve kept almost all of the original phrases and it wasn’t easy. I settled for saxophone and violin for the solo part in an effort to capture the emotions, which only a human voice can deliver. Playing, recording and listening to it over and over again were pure joy. It brought back memories of some of the happier times of my life!
Songs of Life!
Even more difficult to do. A decision to do a medley with I’ve Been This Way Before was a challenge that I placed upon myself and I survived it. For years, I didn’t really pay much attention to the lyrics. Don’t know why. Back in December 2002, I was having a chat with a charming guitarist after a concert. Suddenly he mentioned this song and how he found it to be highly emotional, especially the way it’s sung by Neil Diamond. On my way home the next day, I listened to it in the car a few times and I couldn’t agree with him more. Apparently, there are many sensitive people out there who may appreciate this combination. It is the longest of all (a little over 7 minutes). This medley is for you and thanks for letting me share my feelings. (keyboard)
This is one of the first tunes I’ve composed back in September 2002. I wish to make a CD single of this with different orchestration, having a couple of creative guitarists and a drummer to accompany me. This song is about my life. (keyboard)
It was inspired by a very pleasant smile of someone special! Time and place irrelevant. A few months ago, that person stood in front of me about 3 or 4 ft. away, looked me in the eye deeply, and gave me the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen in my life! It was more of the smiling eyes than the facial expressions. I’ve always believed that the eyes are the windows to one’s soul and his (soul) seemed so beautiful. For a few moments, time stood still and everything around us vanished, as all the heart lights on both sides came on. It was an incredible experience! I didn’t know how else to store that than to put it in a tune. Enjoy! (keyboard)
Happiness is very important to a human soul. Sometimes we have to find a way to uplift ourselves to be able to simply survive out there with strength. I’m very happy to be able to start and end this album with uplifting tunes. I hope this will give you some joy if you’re having a sad day and if I’ve brought joy to a few people, I can say I’ve accomplished something in life! This is my debut album and I look forward to doing more albums in the future.
Enjoy and thanks for listening!
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