“Soolaimón (African Trilogy II)” by Neil Diamond
Soolaimón (i.e. Suleiman) is an Arabic word, most commonly recognized as a name actually. But apparently it can also be used as a greeting. This is a term Neil Diamond obviously learned of during his own studies of African culture. And in that latter regard, what it translates to is the traditional “hello”, “goodbye” or in the Islamic world “peace be with you”.
That said, the lyrics of this song don’t particularly read like anything an Islamic or African musician would drop, especially back in the 1970s. For instance, such artists from that era probably wouldn’t be keen on using the Lord’s name in vain, if you will. They wouldn’t reference the Most High to apparently point to an/amorous sexual concept, as Neil is doing here.
For instance, Diamond shout outs the ‘God of his want’ and ‘Lord of his need’. And what this/these entities are doing, as relayed, are ‘leading him on to the woman’ who has seemingly become the apple of his eye or is the one that he loves.
But considering how general and perhaps we can even say symbolic the lyrics are, it is possible that the vocalist is referring to something else. He could be referring to another concept besides romance, depending on who this woman that ‘dances for the sun’ actually is.
But most simply explained, it appears as if the singer may be lost in some way, shape or form. And the reason he is calling on a higher power is for the purpose of leading him back home to his sweetheart, who is likewise yearning for his arrival.
That said, from a lyrical standpoint, as implied earlier, this song doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with Africa. Despite it’s subtitle suggesting that, it honestly has nothing to do with the said continent. In fact even though North Africa may be predominantly Muslim and the word “Soolaimón” is likewise Arabic, apparently it came from a more traditional part of the Middle East than the Motherland.
All in all, ” Soolaimón” is full of religious references. However, it ultimately points to the idea of the narrator missing the one he loves.
When was ” Soolaimón (African Trilogy II)” released?
Soolaimón was originally made public by Uni Records on the date of 6 November 1970. This song is from Neil Diamond’s studio album of that year, his sixth studio effort overall. It is entitled Tap Root Manuscript.
That may sound like an unconventional name for a project dropped by an American rock musician, and that unique, shall we say nature-inspired title is likely because the undertaking was heavily influenced by traditional African music, long before doing stuff like that (i.e. Americans embracing world music) became cool. In fact the second side of the album, which consists of seven tracks overall, is referred to as “The African Trilogy”. And “Soolaimón” (despite being the fourth track on side two) is recognized as the second song of said trilogy.
Neil Diamond isn’t a name we hear too often here and now, being that his heyday was back during the 1970s. But he is considered to be one of the greatest American musicians of all-time, i.e. one of those select individuals who has earned the following prestigious accolades:
- Songwriters Hall of Fame induction (1984)
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction (2011)
- Kennedy Center Honor (2011)
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2018)
These accomplishments are made especially notable in his case considering that Neil didn’t even get into music until he was 16 years old. He may also be one of the first musicians from Brooklyn – having attended Erasmus Hall and Abraham Lincoln high schools – to blow up.
Did Neil Diamond write “Soolaimón”?
Yes. Neil wrote and co-produced Soolaimón. And the other producer of the track is Tom Catalano.
Usage in “Midnight Mass”
Soolaimón is featured in the hit miniseries “Midnight Mass“. It can be heard prominently playing in the first episode of the show. The said episode is titled “Book 1: Genesis”.