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Album: Brother Love's Traveling Salvation ShowReleased: 1969Charted:
Diamond performed this on The Johnny Cash Show, where he explained: "This song was written about a revival meeting I was at in Jackson, Mississippi. I went there because I was curious, and also because I was a college kid who had all the answers - no one was going to teach me anything and I could lay a few answers on them. I sat in the back of this tent meeting and I got really caught up in the music - clapping, the singing - tremendously exciting. After a while I felt something about the people - there was a tremendous yearning, looking for answers. Trying to ease a very hard burden of very rough lives. After a while the music stopped and a preacher walked out. I remember thinking that all the education I had, all the books, all the words, all the learning I went through at college didn't mean anything to these people, I had nothing for them. So I found myself pulling for this man who was about to give them something that I couldn't even begin to give them."
Diamond wrote the lyrics on a flight to Memphis, and he set the words to soulful tune he had already written.
This marked a turning point for Diamond, as it was a character-driven song as opposed to something personal and introspective. This allowed Diamond to play a character on stage, and he quickly developed into a very charismatic performer. In the liner notes to his boxed set In My Lifetime, Diamond wrote: "This recording became a hit and was to make a showman out of me. How could you not let go of your inhibitions when playing such a wonderful character?"