Home Before Dark

Album: Home Before Dark (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • Diamond suggested to the Sun newspaper May 16, 2008 that this song is "very different from anything on the album, maybe from anything I've ever written before. I think of it as the end of this album or maybe the beginning of the next. I can't rationally explain it. It's all about feeling this is the right thing for this moment, this place. Go create it, write it. Do something. Make it happen. Make it live. Make it serve its purpose and do it beautifully."
  • In the same Sun interview Diamond added that the song and album title came almost accidentally from a scrap of paper on which the phrase was written. It inspired him to think of the need to bring "his close and loved friend home before dark, before the danger and fear that comes with darkness. It was the last song I wrote. I thought I had the album finished but somehow, subconsciously, I knew there was something left that needed to be said. (Guitarist) Matt Sweeney was available because he was around from the previous week's session. The other guys were not. It was a case of 'Matt, come into the studio please, with me, and play this and let's see if the two of us can make this song come alive.' Matt is an intuitive musician and he's brilliant. We didn't know the names of the chords but we made up names for them. This is an 'X chord'. There's no such thing as an X chord in music but we called it that because we couldn't conceive of what it really was. It's extraordinarily complicated but also as simple as it could possibly be. It kicked off the song. Matt with his intensity, his adventurous spirit and his courage, and me with my will were going to capture this song together."
  • Matt Sweeney told Billboard magazine about his contribution to the album: "I played guitar on all the songs, I think. We did them live in the studio, with no drums. Neil played a Martin guitar from the 1800's, Smokey Hormel played guitar and/or bass, Mike Campbell played guitar and Benmont Tench was on piano and organ. Mike, Benmont and Smokey are so great to play with - such cool people. And Rick Rubin is an incredibly sensitive and attentive listener who makes great suggestions for musical moves. I then threw on some electric and acoustic overdubs by myself, but I'm not sure if they made it on the final mixes."
  • Home Before Dark debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It was Diamond's first ever album chart-topper 42 years after he first appeared on the Billboard listings with 1966's The Feel of Neil Diamond. The closest he'd previously got to the summit was with the 1973 soundtrack to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which reached #2. The 146,000 first-week US sales were also Diamond's biggest debut sales week since SoundScan began tracking in 1991.
    Home Before Dark also topped the UK album charts. This was Diamond's second #1 album in the UK. His The Greatest Hits 1966-92 collection also reached the summit in 1992.
  • In the week Home Before Dark entered the Billboard 200 at #1, all ten acts in the Top 10 of the chart were solo artists. It is thought this was the first time ever that no groups, soundtracks or multi-artist collections were involved in the Top 10.
  • Like Neil Diamond's previous album 12 Songs, this was produced by Rick Rubin, who had previously masterminded Johnny Cash's late career renaissance including his cover of Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt." The producer and record label boss has had a similar effect on Diamond's career and the singer-songwriter told the Sun about working with Rubin: "I think Rick and I came together at a very fortuitous moment. It was at a time when I had to show my colors. When I heard that clock ticking louder than ever, when I knew that my time and my chances were limited, I suddenly got the opportunity to work with somebody new who I liked. I didn't know very much about him. Professionally, I knew a little bit, but mostly I started to work with Rick because I liked him."
  • 67-year-old Neil Diamond was the oldest living person to have a #1 album in America, eclipsing Bob Dylan who was 65 when Modern Times debuted at #1 in 2006. In May 2009, a 67 years and eleven months old Dylan earned that position again when Together Through Life topped the Billboard album chart.
  • Neil Diamond (from Q magazine July 2008): "'Home Before Dark' was the last song I wrote and I knew it was going to be the last song on the album. It tells my story, my journey, my search. It's an anchor on a stormy sea of songs that precedes it. I didn't try to write about my life, but what else do I know?"
  • Neil Diamond told the London Times June 27, 2008 that the dark title was a synonym for death. He explained: "The dark is death, the end. The dark is something to be feared, to be avoided, to be protected from."

Comments: 1

  • John from London, United KingdomFor years Neil has lived in the long shadow of his late sixties and seventies songs, and for many of his fans it may have seemed his time for writing classics had passed. When I listened to 12 Songs I was largely disapointed, not because it was a bad album, but because it had nothing to compare with the likes of Brooklin Roads, Cracklin Rosie, I Am I Said, etc, so I approached the album Home Before Dark with scepticism. At first I believed it had reached #1 on the basis of a very ear-catching promotional track, Pretty Amazing Grace, but then I heard the album. It is full of excellent songs about God, goldiggers, past loves, and returning to his first love, his audience and music. After about five plays I discovered the reason why it had been his first UK #1; it just happens to be his best album. But is there anything on the album to trouble those early classics? Well yes, there is actually, in fact the album contains something I would have thought impossible; his best ever song, and it is the title track. It is so beautiful, so full of the weight of a lifetime's experience, it could bring tears to a glass eye. If you used to be a fan, even if you just liked a few of the old songs, buy the album and listen to it a few times; you won't be sorry.
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