Music: Tin Pan Tailor

Neil Diamond grew up in Brooklyn, where the latest pop hits sailed out of the radio all day long like home runs out of Ebbets Field. He learned to read music from a few sporadic piano lessons, but most of his knowledge was picked up by listening to records and studying other people's hits. He wrote his first song at 15. At 20, he went to work as a song plugger on Tin Pan Alley —then as now a mythical street on the tattered fringe of Broadway. Hired by Sunbeam Music, Diamond sometimes felt...

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