To hear Neil Diamond tell it, he is locked into a routine — and he could not be happier about it.
“I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing,” Diamond told reporters during a February teleconference. “It’s built into my genetic code at this point. When I finish an album, within a matter of weeks, I start writing again; I can’t help myself.
“So far, for the last 45 years, each of the writing periods have led to records and each of the records have, more or less, led to some kind of touring activity.”
The Brooklyn native, as he explained, has a new record — last year’s Melody Road — and his current world tour, during which he plans to hit upwards of 70 cities (it wraps up in November in Australia), is another chance to celebrate the entirety of his catalog.
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The 74-year-old Diamond plays Dallas’ American Airlines Center — his first North Texas gig in seven years — May 28.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Diamond said of his current tour. “It’s a little bit nervy for me and it’s a little bit scary, but I know that, from past experience, that as I do these shows in a tour, I don’t wear down, I get stronger. I’m not worried about that. … I’m enthusiastic, but it is a giant challenge and I set it up so it would be a challenge.”
Melody Road, Diamond’s first studio album in four years and his first album of original material in seven, is a reflective record, taking stock of a life spent pulling lyrics and music from the ether: “Making up songs along the way/I’m thinking I just might stay on Melody Road,” Diamond sings on the shuffling title track.
Throughout the dozen songs, Diamond drops plenty of allusions to the craft of building immortal pop songs — First Time takes listeners through the thrill of artistic discovery (“Keep doing it and word will spread,” he sings) — with a naked honesty that’s startling even for an artist who’s no stranger to songs of intense intimacy.
Pressed about the true nature of Melody Road — whether it’s effectively a concept album about Diamond’s life as an award-winning songwriter — the troubadour momentarily demurs.
“I don’t like intellectualizing, first, the songs, and second, the whole concept of the album, but you have to do it a little bit to shape the way these songs go together and how they work together and the story that you tell and the journey, itself, that you’re taking,” Diamond said.
“Melody Road is really a place in the mind, especially a songwriter’s, particularly me; I can’t talk about anybody else. … I don’t want it to be too thought out.
“I want it to just move from one piece of music to another and add up to something,” he said. “The songs are pretty positive; the songs are autobiographical.
“There’s some pain involved in some of these songs, but that’s part of life, too.”
A life built upon routine, and one which Diamond will maintain until there are no more songs left to sing.
“I always have that thing that hurries me up and it says, don’t wait around and don’t waste time because it’s fleeting and if you have any songs that are still inside yourself, you better get to work,” Diamond said.
“That whole concept has become part of me as I get to be older, it’s a more insistent whisper in my ear: ‘Go to work, do your work, do not dawdle, do not waste time, write your songs, do them as well as you possibly can, and don’t waste any more time.’”
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713
8 p.m. May 28
American Airlines Center, Dallas