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Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

Album: Brother Love's Traveling Salvation ShowReleased: 1969Charted:
4
8
  • Diamond wrote this song about his second wife, Marcia Murphey, who he married in 1969 (they divorced in 1995). He needed a three-syllable name to fit the melody, however, so "Sweet Marcia" didn't work. The name Caroline is one he had written down, and it fit the song perfectly, so that's what he used.
  • Neil Diamond is a great manipulator of the media, and has shifted his story about this song to fit the occasion. There was longtime speculation that the song is about Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the American president John F. Kennedy. Diamond has since revealed that this Caroline gave him the idea for the name, but had nothing to do with the song's inspiration.

    In 2007, however, Diamond performed the song via satellite at Caroline Kennedy's 50th birthday party, and said that the song was about her. He told the Associated Press: "I've never discussed it with anybody before - intentionally. I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday. I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

    Diamond added that he was a young, broke songwriter in the '60s when he saw a cute photo of Caroline Kennedy in a magazine. Said Diamond: "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony. It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there." A few years later, Diamond wrote the song in a Memphis hotel in less than an hour. Caroline was 11 years old when the song was released.
  • David Wild wrote in his book He Is...I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond, "Diamond says that 'Sweet Caroline' just seemed to come out of 'the excitement of the moment.' More specifically, Diamond's excitement seemed to focus on a chord in the song's 'touching hands' section, a relatively unusual A6 chord that he had never played before."
  • Even though the song has nothing to do with Boston, the Red Sox, baseball or New England, it is played at Red Sox home games in Fenway Park before the Red Sox bat in the the 8th inning. Amy Tobey, who worked the music at Fenway, first started playing the song in 1997 - it's often reported that she played it in honor of a Red Sox employee who named her newborn daughter "Caroline," but Tobey told NPR that she simply liked the song. It caught on with the fans, becoming a popular selection between innings. When Charles Steinberg took over as Red Sox executive vice president of public affairs in 2002, he championed the song, and instituted it as an 8th inning ritual (strategically placed before the Sox come up to bat late in the game), where it has been played ever since. Caroline Kennedy even attended a game that year, which was before Neil Diamond revealed her as the inspiration.

    The song is an audience participation number in that the crowd sings "dum-dum-dum" after the words "Sweet Caroline" in the chorus and "so good, so good, so good" after "good times never seemed so good," assisted by the music director who ducks the song down at this point so the crowd sounds louder. This Fenway ritual is portrayed in the Drew Barrymore/Jimmy Fallon movie Fever Pitch.
  • The name "Caroline" became much more popular in the '90s, and by 2000 was the 65th most popular female baby name. In 1969, however, the name was relatively obscure, ranking just 225. This upward trend of the name certainly helped the song's fortunes, but a case can also be made that the song gave parents the idea.
  • Neil Diamond told AOL Music Canada that Frank Sinatra's version of this with a big band is his favorite of all the covers of his material. He explained: "He did it his way. He didn't cop my record at all. I've heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatra's swinging, big band version tops them all by far." Other artists to record the song include Waylon Jennings, The Drifters, Julio Iglesias and Elvis Presley.
  • According to Diamond, this song was divinely inspired. "I think there's a little bit of God in that song. I always have felt that, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "There's no accounting for what can happen to a song."
  • Diamond recorded this song during his very first recording session, which was in Memphis with producers Tommy Cogbill and Chips Moman. He had a standard three-hour session booked, but only two songs written at a time when at least three was the norm. The night before, he quickly wrote "Sweet Caroline" in his motel room so he would have his third song. Diamond says it was one of the fastest songs he ever wrote.
  • After the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, the New York Yankees - rivals of the Red Sox - began playing this song as a show of support for the city of Boston. On April 20, Diamond made a surprise appearance at Fenway Park where he performed the song in its traditional 8th inning timeslot. Diamond, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just two days earlier, appeared in street clothes rather than his usual lustrous performance garb as he led the crowd in a full version of the song.
  • This song is fun, familiar, and easy to sing, which has made it one of the most popular Karaoke songs of all time. It goes over especially well where alcohol is served, since passable renditions are possible even after a few drinks.
  • Diamond performed this song on July 16, 2013 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which was held in the home stadium of the New York Mets. The performance took place in the 8th inning, as it was a tribute to the city of Boston and that's when the Red Sox play the song. Diamond's performance was rather incongruently followed by sounds of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," which signaled the entrance of Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees relief pitcher who was coming in to pitch his last All-Star game.
  • In America, this song reached its chart peak in August, 1969, but in the UK, it didn't peak until February, 1971.

    With the song getting played in England, the title got the attention of Status Quo songwriters Francis Rossi and Bob Young, who incorporated it into their 1973 UK hit "Caroline," where Rossi sings, "Come on sweet Caroline, you're my sweet Caroline."
  • This song often appears with the title, "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)."
  • Soul man Bobby Womack recorded a popular version of this song that made #51 US in 1972. The song returned to the charts again in 2009 when it was covered by the cast of Glee.
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Comments: 39

On November 4th 1972, Bobby Womack performed "Sweet Caroline" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Three months earlier on August 20th, 1972 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and on October 1st, 1972 it peaked at #51 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #16 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
On the same 'Bandstand' show he also performed the record's B-side, "Happy Hippie", and one month later on Dec. 3rd, 1973 it entered the Top 100 and reached #31 on February 4th, 1973...
Between 1962 and 1989 he had thirty-eight records the R&B Singles chart; twelve made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Woman's Gotta Have It “for 1 week in 1972 and "Lookin'for A Love" for 3 weeks in 1974...
Sadly, Mr. Womack passed away earlier this year on June 27th {2014}; he was 70 years old.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I fell in love with this song when it came out in summer of 1969 and I still love it. I don't find it creepy that Caroline Kennedy inspired it when she was a little girl. He probably looked at the picture and thought, "Sweet Caroline!" and then the song took off in a different direction, the lyrics having nothing whatsoever to do with that little girl. As a writer, I have that happen to me quite frequently, although I always remember where I got my original inspiration.Susan - Atlanta, Georgia
Since many years an upbeat version of the song by Austrian entertainer "DJ Ötzi" is played after each home victory of Swiss football team FC Aarau. With people singing along with the tune aloud with joy on their way out of the stadium. It's like an emotional hook bringing back memories of past victories and a reassurance that everything in this world is in its place. FC Aarau is nicknamed "The Unrelegatables" because between 1981 and 2010 they managed as a small team from a small town with small resources to stay for nearly 30 years in the first division. Nowadays, they are back in the top flight.Peter - Winterthur, Zh - Ch
Neil diamond has made one of the most popular sports anthems of all-time. As a public address announcer for many athletic events, I play the song in the top of the fourth inning at Holy Angels baseball games and during breaks in hockey tournaments. It's a song that gets the fans involved.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
"Neil Diamond revealed that this song is about Caroline Kennedy" ??? Seems more than a little odd! Nice way to give the tune some additional pedigree and tie it in with her 50th birthday but the lyrics don't reflect anything about her or her life at an early age. Only Neil knows for sure but my B.S. detector is in alarm. Let's see, yaa I was inspired by Caroline Kennedy, that's it, that's the ticket. Could be the same type of inspiration that Randy Bachman had when he claimed a pizza delivery guy laid down the piano track on BTO's "Taking Care of Business" ....not!Gm - Edmonton, Ab
If you read the top facts carefully you would see she was younger than 11 when he first saw the picture of Caroline. She was 11 when the song came out, a "few" years later. Even creepier?Kelly - San Luis Obispo, Ca
To the person who mentioned the version Mamma Cass did, I sure you can find it on you-tube. If not, then you might be able to find out from your local library. To the person who mentioned the similarity between the intro of this song and the intro to Happy Together. There is a music similarity, vaguely, but listen to The River is Wide by the Grass Roots, there is definitely a similarity there.Brandon - Seattle, Wa
I have to say, isn't that kind of creepy, listening to the lyrics & knowing it was created after looking at a picture of an 11 year old girl?!Susan - Airdrie, -
HA! We played this in an honor band here in Alabama! It was AMAZING! I was so happy:) Love this song! I just wanna sing it everytime I hear it! Where's my lighter?!Megan - Stevenson, Al
When I went to a Cardinals game, after the game, they had fireworks and music EVERYONE was singing along with this song. It was really cool and it gave me goosebumps.Dusty - St. Louis, Mo
this song makes me feel sorta special...since my middle name is Caroline. still my name.Amanda - Gretna, Vt
Great Song however it would
sound better in Yankee Stadium
then Fenway Park....Go Yankees...
Rich - Wall , Nj
You can't help not liking this wonderful song.....makes you feel good!Mary Ann - Houston, Tx
Dave Matthews Band did a cover of this when they played in fenway a few yrs back.Evan - Jacksonville, Fl
My Dad has always loved this song and sang it has always been our song. He has spoken about a cover that Mamma Cass did of Sweet Caroline. I can't find it anywhere or any record of it. I would love to find it and give it to him. If anyone knows anything, please let me know!Caroline - Charlotte, Nc
This is a wonderful song, it reminds me of summerKellie - Vernon, Nj
Hi! I like listening to Neil Diamond some of the time. My friend has his Cd's. music videos and such such more. He is a great singer, best in his movies like Jazz singer and whatever he is in. I would love to go to one of his concerts.
But Sweet Caroline is one of my favorite songs that he sings.
Others are just OK!
Susan M. Choe - South Orange, Ny
See comment below first,

The cool thing was the North Carolina Marching Band played Sweet Caroline, after Davidson had upset Georgetown in Raleigh, North Carolina as a tribute to the team, as they came back out for the UNC game! Pretty classy band there.
Jake - Ancaster, On
The Davidson University Marching Band played this song a couple of times each game during their run to Elite 8 in Men's Basketball. I remember being in Ford Field with 50,000+ Davidson fans playing this song so joyfully for that weekend. Stephan Curry was unbelievable, and they almost beat Kansas losing at the buzzer, but I will always remember the Davidson section and really the whole stadium rocking to Sweet Caroline that weekend.Jake - Ancaster, On
This song was also used in the movie, "Beautiful Girls".Diane - Orlando, Fl
"I've been to a lot of Washington Nationals games and in I believe either the 6th or 8th inning they play this."

Hi Mike, it's the middle of the 6th inning, but only when the Nationals are winning (which, unfortunately, can be a rare occurance). They call the inning break the "Sweet Sixth" and play this song.
Lori - Alexandria, Va
The reason this song became a feature at sporting events is because it's an audience participation song. A stadium full of people love to hear themselves sing a long to the dum dum dum, so good so good so good, and other parts. Same thing with We Will Rock You, where they get to stamp and clap. And Crazy Train where they get to go Aie, Aie, Aie! at the beginning. And Rock And Roll Part Two by Gary Glitter, I forget what they get to sing in that one.Steve - Birmingham, Al
I love it,That was my daughter`s name,shew was sweet.xxxxEvan - Wrexham
neil diamond has finally revealed who this song was about, caroline kennedy. the song was played at fenway because the music girl needed to find a song to play and when she played this, the crowd loved it and the sox came back and won, so the orginization requested this for every game to pump the team and the crowd up. it has been played everygame for i believe almost 20 years. GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Pdizzle - Portland, Me
LOS ANGELES - Neil Diamond held onto the secret for decades, but he has finally revealed that President Kennedy's daughter was the inspiration for his smash hit "Sweet Caroline."
"I've never discussed it with anybody before -- intentionally," the 66-year-old singer-songwriter told The Associated Press on Monday during a break from recording. "I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday."
He got his chance last week when he performed the song via satellite at Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's 50th birthday party.
Diamond was a "young, broke songwriter" when a photo of the president's daughter in a news magazine caught his eye.
"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond recalled. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there."
Years later, holed up in a hotel in Memphis, he would write the words and music in less an hour.
"It was a No. 1 record and probably is the biggest, most important song of my career, and I have to thank her for the inspiration," he said. "I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."
Barry - Chicago, Il
The song was actually about a chick Neil was dating in Brooklyn named Caroline.Mopy Dick - New York, Ny
I think that Fenway Park uses this song because of the opening stanza; it symbolizes the love that Red Sox fans have for their team and baseball season. "Where it began, I can't begin to know when/But then I know it's growing strong/Oh, wasn't the spring, whooo/And spring became the summer/Who'd have believed you'd come along." To me, it seems since baseball begins in Spring, fans' love for baseball grows. For anyone who'd like to see this in action, visit Fenway and get the experience. Red Sox fans love this song.Bryan - Nashville, Tn
I have been told that the song "sweet carolin" was written about Judith Caroline Slattery. Shelives in joplin moRich - Joplin, Mo
The University of North Carolina's marching band often plays this song during athletic events.John - Chapel Hill, Nc
That's so cool. You know, Neil Diamond gets paid every time they play this song at a sporting event. What a great life.Steve - Birmingham, Al
This song was originally not included on the 1969 LP that contained "Brother Loves's Traveling Salvation Show" but after SC became a big hit was included on album pressings.Charles - Charlotte, Nc
As legend has it....Amy Tobey worked for the Red Sox and her job was to decide what songs to play during Bosox home games in the late 90's/early 2000's. Amy had heard Sweet Caroline at other sporting events and tried it out at Fenway...it caught on to a nearly a superstitious point where she would play it between the 7th and 9th inning....Once John Henry purchased the team, he instituted the permanant placement prior to the bottom of the eighth....to this day you cannot leave Fenway without pilgrimage to Neil Diamond...and the Red Sox. Makes traffic a nightmare, but its worth it...its so good...Michael - Gloceseter, Ri
No one seems to know why or for whom Neil Diamond wrote this song for????? I can't even find it online anywhere.John - Gaithersburg, Md
I was wondering if anyone knows when they started singing this song at Fenway Park and why?
I was just at a Red Sox game and the fans really get into singing this song.
Carol - Coventry, Ri
This song is used often, at sports events in Ireland. Diamond is a big favourite here. He has played and filled our biggest sports ground,Croke Park many times.Paul - Belfast, Ireland
hahaha it's a song i hate to like... darn you, neil diamond!Ryan - Mobile, Al
i like this song. its fun and upbeatCaitlin - Upper Township, Nj
I've been to a lot of Washington Nationals games and in I believe either the 6th or 8th inning they play this.Mike - Germantown, Md
my mum loved this song . i bought her the live in concert dvd for her birthday, rang her up one day to see if she got it , when dad picked up the phone i could hear mum singing this song in the background....... sadly she passed away a couple of years ago... its amazing how certain songs bring those memories flashing backPete - Nowra, Australia