Exclusive: Neil Diamond Feels Sorry for 'American Idol' Contestants

Neil Diamond’s music career has successfully spanned more than 50 years, but it turns out the veteran performer is relieved that he never had to endure something as frightful as “American Idol” to get his foot in the door.

“’American Idol’ isn’t typical of people going into the music business. These youngsters have a chance to express their talent to millions of people and it’s very scary. I would not want do it myself – certainly not in the beginning of my career,” Diamond told Pop Tarts while promoting his new album “Dreams.” “But the best advice I can offer people is to love what you’re doing, love your work and be ready to work, work and work. With that combination and a little bit of luck, you might have a chance to get out there and have your music heard.”

But back to his own career, Diamond is all about putting his own spin on songs by others and is covering 14 of his favorite songs from the rock era on the new album.

“It has been in the back of my mind to do an album like this for years and years and I never had the nerve to do it, I’m anxious to hear what people think of it,” Diamond continued. “Bill Withers wrote a song called ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ which I have always loved. I love his version and I thought maybe I could do a version as well, but not as good but as he did so I gave that a try and I was very happy with it. We did a couple of Beatle songs, other songs like ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ which is that wonderful Gladys Knights and the Pips record. I even did a re-imagination of my old ‘I'm a Believer’ without the Monkeys influence, just me singing it. I enjoyed that as well.”

With 28 million albums sold and 37 top ten singles under his belt, the 69-year-old still feels as fresh as he was when he first forayed into the entertainment industry in the 60’s.

“I feel almost exactly the way when I started. I’m still trying to write and record music that excites me and exhilarates me, that lifts me up, that makes me reflective, that has some kind of emotional tug on me and it’s exactly what I hoping to do then and I am still trying for that,” Diamond added.