May 1969: Neil Diamond Releases "Sweet Caroline"

Neil Diamond performing. (Photo by Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
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(Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

One the last singles Neil Diamond released in the 1960s has proved to be his most enduring. "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)" was released on May 28, 1969. The song was a hit, peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 for the week of August 18, 1969. The #1 song in America that week: "In the Year 2525" by Zager & Evans.

While it lost that chart battle, "Sweet Caroline" has more than won the pop culture war, now part of the fabric of the great American songbook. Inspired by his first wife, Marcia Murphy, Diamond has also claimed that its an ode to Caroline Kennedy, singing it at her 50th birthday party in 2007.

"I've never discussed it with anybody before - intentionally," Diamond told Associated Press at the time. "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."

The tune has become synonymous with Major League Baseball franchise the Boston Red Sox, The tradition of playing the song at the team's Fenway Park before the 8th inning began back in 1997. It was Amy Tobey, who at the time was in charge of stadium music. She later told NPR that she picked the track simply because she liked it.

"Sweet Caroline" has been covered, parodied and synced in countless movie, TV and media moments. The 2001 movie Saving Silverman featured Jack Black as a member of a Neil Diamond cover band. Here's Black joining Diamond onstage for a rendition of "Sweet Caroline" in Los Angeles in the video above.

Recently, Diamond retooled the tune for these coronavirus times. Watch it below. 

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