Neil Diamond opens up about his Parkinson's diagnosis: 'I have to make the best of it'

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11:  Singer Neil Diamond performs onstage at Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Debra Lee at The Beverly Hilton on February 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
Neil Diamond — performing at a pre-Grammy gala in 2017 — says it's been hard to accept his Parkinson's diagnosis. (Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage)

Neil Diamond says it's been a process accepting his 2018 Parkinson's disease diagnosis.

The "Sweet Caroline" singer-songwriter, 82, discussed his legendary career and health in a CBS Sunday Morning interview that will air this weekend. He admitted he was in denial the first two years after learning he has the disorder of the central nervous system, which can cause unintended or uncontrollable movements. The acceptance has only just started to come.

"I'm still doing it," he said of coming to terms with the diagnosis. "And I don't like it. But ... this is me; this is what I have to accept. And I'm willing to do it. And, OK, so this is the hand that God's given me, and I have to make the best of it, and so I am. I am."

Asked by Anthony Mason when the acceptance part started to come about, Diamond said it's "just been in the last few weeks."

Since then, the iconic performer — a Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — said, "A calm has moved in, and the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet, as quiet as this recording studio. And, I like it. I find that I like myself better. I'm easier on people. I'm easier on myself. And the beat goes on, and it will go on long after I'm gone."

While Diamond announced his immediate retirement following the Parkinson's diagnosis, he's made a few appearances related to the Broadway show about his life and music, A Beautiful Noise. On opening night in December, NYC theatergoers were treated to a "Sweet Caroline" singalong, which he led, at curtain call.

Asked the hardest part of watching his life play out on the stage, he replied, "It was all pretty hard. I was a little embarrassed. I was flattered and I was scared."

Of the fear, he explained, "Being found out is the scariest thing you can hope, because we all have a facade. And the truth be known to all of 'em. I'm not some big star. I'm just me."

Diamond's full interview will air Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on CBS and stream on Paramount+.