Neil Diamond goes back to Brooklyn, where it all began

Neil Diamond hasn't stopped writing songs since he first picked up a guitar in the 1950s.

The singer, known for his stadium-sized anthems, has released his 32nd album, 50 years after he left Brooklyn to become a songwriter, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.

"The subway station there," Diamond told Mason, pointing, "I shined shoes in front of that subway station. It was my first entrepreneurial position."

Brooklyn is where he found his first job and went to high school at Erasmus Hall.

Last month, the singer, who's sold out stadiums around the world, returned to a high school stadium to play his first concert ever in Brooklyn.

"It was overwhelming," he said. "First of all, because you're not only performing to an audience, you're performing at a place that you inhabited when you were 14 years old. So everything broke through my mind. I'm singing a song and I'm thinking about being late to school and being in detention for an hour in that assembly room."

He said it's that same room where he made his lifetime career decision.

"The decision was to stop studying guitar and start studying piano," Diamond said.

In detention that day, the teenage Diamond saw another boy practicing a classical piece on piano, and it opened up his musical world.

"Suddenly I was not just playing folk music anymore," he said. "I was playing Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Debussy. That assembly room kind of changed my life."

Diamond, who's written more than 40 top-40 hits, has just released "Melody Road," his first collection of original songs in six years.

He confessed writing is harder now because he doesn't want to repeat material from his previous 31 original albums.

And even though he has little to prove to a world enthralled by his music, he still works to make each one his best.

"Well, I do know that I'm putting my name on it," he said. "So this is important to me. I don't want people to say, 'Well, you know, he was better in the '70s.' That's scary."

Even with all his success, Neil Diamond admitted he still seeks approval from a higher authority, his 96-year-old-mother, Rose.

"I do," he said. "She's got to hear them. Not only does she want to hear them, but something in me makes me want to go to her and play them. I don't know if it's because when I was a kid and started writing, she was the only one who would listen."

And he assures, she's always been truthful about her opinions.

"She's been brutally honest," he said. "And most of the time I don't like what she says. I resent it."

It's her criticism that sticks out in his mind.

"She's told me terrible things," he said. "'Why do you always do that with your voice over there? Why do you need to do that?'"

Nevertheless, he said his mother's opinion matters more than ever.

Now 73 years old and still one of the world's top drawing live performers, Diamond will hit the road behind his new record.

"I have to because if I want to maintain any self -- I don't know why I have to," he said, struggling to explain his desire to continue performing.

Calling it "tedious," he admitted there are certainly difficult aspects of performing, but there's more to it that keeps him going.

"It's a joyful experience for me when you get on stage and you're up there alone with your audience," he said. "It's a perfect couple."

He said that kind of relationship is a romance that never fades.

"It has not faded for me," he said. "It's fearsome and scary and joyful and delicious, all at the same time."