Done Too Soon

Album: Taproot Manuscript (1970)
Charted: 65

Songfacts®:

  • In this song of mortality, Diamond lists various famous people who have passed on, including Jesus Christ, John Wilkes Booth and Buster Keaton. Diamond told David Wild in He Is...I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond: "It was kind of esoteric, especially at that time. But it's just me trying to say something a little different, just try and jog something in a person's memory, or to elicit a reaction. That's what my job is, to do something a little bit different, and yet something that's me and something that's you."
  • R.E.M. used this technique of listing a bunch of famous people in the lyrics for their 1987 hit "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."

Comments: 10

  • Mary from Suffolk UkA very thought provoking song. Reminds us of our own mortality, to make the most of our lives, especially as we too, could be ‘done too soon’. Sharing the same sun and moon, we also share the same trials and tribulations of life, wherever we are.
  • Michael from Liverpoollong ago i heard Neil interviewed on radio, he said he had the idea on an internal flight in USA, at night, nothing could be seen outside, the thought came to him, what if the plane suddenly dropped out of the sky, his life, like many before, would be over in seconds, he was 29 or 30 at the time, his life would be
    "done too soon", cue for a song
  • Coy from Palestine, TexasNeil's song is brilliant, as is his list of famous people-who are at the opposite ends of existence. Does anyone notice that Neil mentions Caryl Chessman the famous 'red light bandit' who was put to death for multiple crimes-mostly rape-although he never killed anyone. Chessman was instrumental in the banning of the Death Penalty in California. Neil mentioning Chessman along with 'E.A. Poe' and others is genius. Diamond is not only a brilliant melody writer but his lyrics are as deep as Dylan's at times.
  • Tony from Dublin, IrelandI like to think hat this song was started, if not totally created, by a chance moment when some list in a newspaper, or arrangement of books on a shelf, caught his eye whilst he was waiting for someone or something to be ready for him - one of those occasions when you are not in charge and when your mind wanders and makes strange associations.
  • Tony from Dublin, IrelandHi Stacia,
    While "Wolfgang" would fit, does anybody refer to him as anything other than "Mozart" or "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart"?
    To me, to hear "Wolfgang Mozart" would be as offkey as to hear someone refer to Treasure Island by Robert Stevenson, or The Lake Isle Of Innisfree by William Yeats.
    Some people get the full 'mother is annoyed' treatment.
    Perhaps Neil Diamond know that and felt that the line needed either another name (and no other line has three) or else a friendlier name than the 'Wolfgang Amadeus' people would need if they were to readily know who he meant. And, as he was shortly house "E. A." for Poe, he might not have wanted to use the same device for Mozart, even though it would 'fit' with precise intonation.
  • Rm M from LondonIn 50 years time perhaps a young songwriter will name another list of famous people and Neil Diamond will be on that list.
  • Stacia from Manhattan, KsActually David, Mozart was called "Wolferl" as a nickname as a boy, which is roughly comparable to "Wolfie" in English. It's obviously an artistic choice because both "Wolfgang" and "Wolfie" would have fit lyrically. And my first Poe collection, a nasty old moldy Doubleday hardback, lists the author as "E.A. Poe" on the spine. While the choice of famous people from despots to deities is part of the song's charm, the way the names are expressed adds to that charm. Check out the performance of this song on the BBC 1971 concert and watch how Neil relishes the name "Albert Camus," it's positively cheeky.
  • Ira from Schererville, InMy class and myself just discussed the song: We decided that at the time of our death, we will still have goals and objectives we have not accomplished - hence Done too Soon. Probably no matter how long we live - it will be too soon to check out of life.
  • David from Youngstown, OhGreat Neil song, but the collection of people in the song is strange. Genghis Khan, Ho Chi Minh, Karl Marx, Caryl Chessman and John Wilkes Booth along with Jesus, Buster Keaton, H.G. Wells? Also, I don't know who's ever called Edgar Allen Poe "E.G. Poe" or called Mozart "Wolfie." Wells and Minh lived to be 79. That's not really being done too soon.
  • Stormy from Kokomo, InThis is one of my all-time favorite Neil Diamond songs! Just to think that we all have seen the same moon and the same sun as these famous people that he mentions just fascinates me! Just wondering if some of these people looked up in wonderment and asked the same questions that I do when I look at the moon each night! Also to think that Neil Diamond has written ALL of his hits amazes me to his talent!
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