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Neil Diamond says he's proud to be receiving Johnny Mercer Award, still getting used to not touring

Credit: Micah DiamondNeil Diamond has kept a low profile since announcing his retirement from touring in January after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. However, the legendary singer-songwriter will return to the public eye on Thursday when he accepts the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the 2018 Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City.

Diamond tells Billboard that he's excited to receive the award, which is given to a Songwriters Hall member whose body of work is of such "high quality and impact" that it "upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer."

"I love it, and I love Johnny Mercer and am so happy the award is named after him," Neil declares. "And just to be part of the festivities and be there with the other wonderful writers -- it doesn't get any better than that."

Diamond, who turned 77 in January, admits that he hasn't "made any sense of" having to quit touring, and says he's still getting used to the idea.

"It's going to be different for me," Neil notes. "I've been doing it for such a long time and it kind of gets into your bones because it's an exciting place to be. But life goes on, and we want to make the most of what time we have."

Diamond adds that touring has "always been an adventure" for him, giving him the chance to explore different parts of the world while "doing my thing and showing my songs off."

He tells Billboard he hopes at some point he'll still be able to tour, "but that remains to be seen."

Meanwhile, Diamond reveals he currently is writing songs for a new project.

"I still have a lot of music in me and I want to express it," he says.

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