No more Neil Diamond in concert
Earlier this week, legendary singer and songwriter Neil Diamond announced he has Parkinson’s Disease, immediately retiring from touring. It’s sad he has to end touring like this, because Diamond certainly earned the right to end touring on his own terms.
I have never been to a concert, and it isn’t on my bucket list. However, if there was a list of artists I would want to go see in person, Diamond would have ranked pretty high, if not #1. Elton John is coming to Kansas City in February 2019 as part of his final tour, and I would pay to see him, as well. I would pay to see The Rolling Stones and the Eagles, and of course, The Beatles when they were together, but of course that wasn’t possible because they broke up six years before I was born.
Neil Diamond’s most famous song, according to some, is “Sweet Caroline”, which is an ode to Caroline Kennedy, the first live-born child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier. I say first live-born, because sadly, a daughter was stillborn in 1956, one year before Caroline’s birth. After John F. Kennedy Jr was born in November 1960, shortly after his dad was elected President of the United States, another boy, Patrick, died only 48 hours after birth, a little more than three months before JFK was assassinated in Dallas.
Sweet Caroline has become an anthem for the Boston Red Sox, played during the eighth inning of every game at Fenway Park. It’s a fitting anthem, seeing the Kennedy clan is from Massachusetts–Robert F. Kennedy’s three and a half years as a U.S. Senator from New York notwithstanding–but it has been overdone. Too many teams are playing it, and I sometimes want to change the radio station when I hear it. It’s not that “Sweet Caroline” is a bad song, it’s just it’s not my favorite Neil Diamond song. Not be a long shot.
I have several Neil Diamond songs on my Apple devices, but “Sweet Caroline” is not one of them, nor will it ever be. I can be persuaded to play Neil Diamond on the jukebox, but I am not particularly keen on playing “Sweet Caroline”.
“Sweet Caroline” is part of his 12 Greatest Hits album which came out in 1974, but I have at least five songs higher on the list23.
Cracklin Rosie” is my favorite Diamond song. Went to #1 in October 1970. It is not about a woman named Rosie, but it’s about a wine. The others from that album are “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”, “Play Me”, “Song Sung Blue” and “Shiloh”.
My favorite earlier Diamond hits are “Kentucky Woman”, “Cherry, Cherry” and “I’m A Believer”. Yes, it’s the same song which shot The Monkees to fame in 1966, but I like Diamond’s version better. Of his later work, my favorites are “Desiree”, “Forever In Blue Jeans”, “America” and “Heartlight”, which gained fame for being on the soundtrack to E.T.
Parkinson’s is a cruel fate, and Diamond is one of the three most famous people it has afflicted, joining Michael J. Fox and Pope John Paul II. The only good news here is having someone notable should spur fundraising for Parkinson’s research, the way it has with Fox.
Update 1955 2018/1/26: Norton’s band is playing “Sweet Caroline” as the boys basketball team warms up before its game vs. Colby.