Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Neil Diamond : To catch a predator

Ever since elementary school music class, where I was forced to badly sing Neil Diamond's ET-inspired ode to intergalactic yearning, Heartlight, I've been a huge fan of the man who is often called the Jewish Elvis. (Although some will claim Elvis is the Jewish Elvis)

In fact, I'm listening to Cracklin' Rosie right now.

Growing up, most of my contemporaries dismissed Diamond as a shiny lounge act with corny lyrics. I could see nothing but sweaty sincerity and a willingness to tackle the human condition with vocal aplomb.

I got the last laugh about eight years ago when Neil Diamond deservedly bridged the generation gap and started to become an icon to many born after he wrote most of his best known songs.

One song in particular, 1969's Sweet Caroline, really re-crashed the cultural zeitgeist, and is now sung enthusiastically at all your better karaoke bars, ball parks and fraternity parties.

Today Diamond revealed the "Caroline" in Sweet Caroline is none other than former first daughter Caroline Kennedy. Diamond had been taken with a photo he had seen of Caroline back when her father was still alive and in the White House. But it wasn't until years later -- when Caroline was about 11 -- that Diamond wrote the song while holed up in a Memphis hotel.

Now anyone who has been drunk at a bar around last call knows that when you sing Sweet Caroline there's the part about the seasons, and the hurt rolling off the shoulder, but that the tune really starts to build to the crescendo with the "touching me" and the "touching you."

Diamond says it only took him an hour to write the song. So maybe he didn't realize he was penning such a perverted tale about such an underaged girl. And Caroline doesn't seem to mind -- she has invited Diamond to play the song at her 50th birthday party next week.

But, just in case, somebody needs to look into who exactly Rosie was, and what has become of her.

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