What happened
For the first time in his 42-year-long career, Neil Diamond has hit number one on the Billboard 200 with his latest album Home Before Dark. Diamond edged out Toby Keith, Clay Aiken, and Josh Groban for the top spot, and his record sold 146,000 copies in its first week.

What the commentators said
“Neil Diamond doesn’t mess with success,” said Jonathan Cohen in Billboard.com. That’s why for his latest album he stuck with “producer Rick Rubin, who steered their 2005 collaboration, 12 Songs, to a No. 4 debut on the Billboard 200,” which was “Diamond’s best since The Jazz Singer in 1982.” What also might have helped Home Before Dark is the fact that “Diamond worked in the studio “ with “an improvisationally leaning band.”

And one of those band members was Matt Sweeney, said Brock Thiessen in the blog Exclaim, who has quite a reputation in the indie rock world. In addition to being the former front-man of Chavez, Sweeney has also played with “Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan in the ‘super group’ Zwan,” as well as with “bearded folkster Will Oldham,” and he also “spent some time with lo-fi pop kings Guided by Voices.” And now “Sweeney has played a major role on Home Before Dark.”

Everybody knows the real reason why Neil Diamond’s new album shot to number one, said MTV.com. It “was no doubt made possible by the tremendous boost of having some of his classic tunes featured (and, you know, mostly murdered) on that popular singing contest American Idol.” But regardless, this was certainly a “sweet” week for the “Solitary Man.”