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Album: Greatest HitsReleased: 1967Charted:
Diamond wrote this country-tinged song while he was on a 32-city tour with the Dick Clark Caravan, sharing a bill with Tommy Roe, Billy Joe Royal and P.J. Proby. In the liner notes to Diamond's anthology In My Lifetime, he wrote: "We attracted teenage girls almost exclusively and the house, usually a high school auditorium, was filled to the rafters with screaming females night after night. The song was written in the back of a limo as we approached the outskirts of Paducah, Kentucky."
Diamond liked this song, but he wanted the more personal "Shilo
" released as the single. Bert Berns of Bang Records felt "Kentucky Woman" was the hit, and released it against Diamond's wishes. This caused a rift which led to Diamond's departure from the label a year later. Bang Records lost their young star, but capitalized on Diamonds success over the next few years by continuously repackaging and releasing the songs he recorded with them. They eventually did release "Shilo" in 1970, and it went to #24.
Deep Purple covered this song
and released it as a single in 1968, charting at #38 in the US. We asked David Wild, who interviewed Diamond on several occasions and wrote the book He Is...I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond
, if there were any cover versions of his songs that Diamond particularly likes or dislikes. Says Wild: "He is very gallant, and seems thankful that others have embraced his songs. I think hearing Sinatra and Elvis sing his songs was a thrill, and I remember him telling me that he once got a private recording of Dylan singing 'Sweet Caroline.' The only cover I remember him being slightly confused by was Deep Purple's heavy metal retooling of 'Kentucky Woman.'"