“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
This piece (“Sweet Caroline”) was initially inspired by a photograph of one Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of 1960s’ US President John F. Kennedy, which is from where we get the title. Kennedy was but a child at the time, but it is apparent that these lyrics are romantic in nature. So as the story goes, the actual addressee is Marcia Murphey. Marcia was Neil Diamond’s second wife, whom he was with when he wrote “Sweet Caroline”. But the reason he used the name Carolina, besides what has been mentioned above, is that the name has three syllables and therefore fits into the lyrical scheme of the piece.
Lyrics of “Sweet Caroline”
As far as love songs go, there really isn’t anything unconventional being relayed here, as the lyrics are pretty simple. The thesis sentiment being relayed, most comprehensively put, is that the vocalist is smitten by the addressee and enjoys the feeling. And part of the reason, as put forth in the second verse, is that she has mitigated his loneliness and serves the role of being an all-around relief system in his life.
In fact, this is one of those romantic pieces where the vocalist asserts that his entire life has been edified in a way he probably never experienced before via this relationship.
Indeed earlier on we also find another idea that is common in these kinds of tracks, that of the vocalist having not even been expecting to be smitten, but then one day after apparently crossing paths with the addressee boom, it happens.
So considering the year this song was dropped and the fact that it’s arguably the most-prominent track in Neil Diamond’s entire catalog, then perhaps it can be theorized that, speaking in terms of the music industry, this is a prototypical love song or one that became a standard.
When was “Sweet Caroline” released?
Uni Records made this track public on 16 April 1968. It acted as one of the singles from the project “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”. The project in question is Neil Diamond’s fourth-studio album.
Upon release it peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later it went on to be certified double-platinum by the BPI and platinum by the RIAA. As such, “Sweet Caroline” stands as Diamond’s biggest hit from the 1960s (the earliest decade of his discography). In fact by the looks of things, from a commercial standpoint, this may be the most-successful song he ever dropped in his seven-decade spanning career.
And the notoriety of “Sweet Caroline” extends beyond the music industry itself. For instance, it is a favorite amongst fans of some European football teams. The song’s popularity in sports actually caused it to re-chart in the UK as recently as 2021.
It was also added to the US National Recording Registry, as in being recognized as part of American culture that the government deemed worthy of preservation, in 2019.
More Interesting Facts
There is a theatrical Neil Diamond tribute named after this tune. And all of this for a track which, according to Tommy Cogbill (1932-1982) who plays bass in the song, Neil wasn’t particularly fond of.
Earlier in 2022, Diamond sold this piece (as well as the rest of his catalog) to Universal Music. So what that means is that even though Diamond wrote “Sweet Caroline”, he is no longer entitled to royalties from the track.
Diamond did eventually get around to performing “Sweet Caroline” directly for Caroline Kennedy. This took place in 2007, while she was celebrating her 50th birthday. And that was also when he revealed that a childhood picture of her was in fact the inspiration behind this track. When this song came out Kennedy was 11 and Diamond, 28 years of age. And it has been noted that the pic referred to was one Neil came across some years prior.
This song has been covered by a handful of A listers, including:
- Elvis Presley (1970)
- Roy Orbison (1973)
- Amy MacDonald (2008)
- Luke Bryan (2017)
- David Hasselhoff (2021)
- Jennifer Lopez along with her mother (2021)
- Rod Stewart (2022)
Neil once revealed that his favorite cover of all is the version Frank Sinatra came out with in 1974.
Credits for “Sweet Caroline”
Neil Diamond is the sole composer of “Sweet Caroline”. On the production side, Neil is also credited as one of the song’s producers. So are the following record producers:
- Tom Catalano (who is best known for his decades of collaboration with Neil)
- Tommy Cogbill
Usage during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration
In 2022, during the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year of rule, this song played an important role in the festivities.
Listeners of BBC Radio 2 voted this the unofficial anthem of the celebration. Diamond himself didn’t attend the event. But what said designation did result in for instance is Rod Stewart, a legendary singer who is actually from the UK, performing it for the Royal Family.
According to Stewart, he was actually “made” to do so by the BBC. But in any event, some spectators were unpleasantly confused by the fact that Rod would perform a song by Diamond, taking into account that Stewart’s own seven-decade spanning discography is replete with hits in and of itself.