Presley’s “Sweet Caroline”
In his February 1970 shows at the International, Elvis Presley sang “Sweet Caroline.” It was so popular, the song remained on his set list for many years. On the first released version from the On Stage album, Presley introduced it, saying
“A guy had a song out last year. It’s a beautiful song and the guy’s name is Neil Diamond. I’d like to sing it for you now.”
In addition to this, Elvis recorded two Neil Diamond songs, ‘Sweet Caroline’ live in concert – the recording was included on the 1970 ‘On Stage’ album – as well as ‘And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind’ at American Sound Studios in 1969, [For which Neil’s scheduled sessions were cancelled to fit Elvis in] the song was included on ‘Back In Memphis’.
Diamond’s Thoughts on Elvis
In an interview with Australian television producer and comedian Andrew Denton in 2014, Neil Diamond was asked about his thoughts on Presley’s “Sweet Caroline” performance. Diamond stated,
“I never saw Elvis perform ‘Sweet Caroline’. I did see him perform live in Vegas, I had never seen him before. You know, he was Elvis Presley and I was awed. He was an amazing, amazing live performer.”
“He was electric and he was wonderful and halfway through his show, he introduced me. I was in the audience and he introduced me and it’s like worshiping a god and that god is saying, ‘Oh, stand up. I like this person. World, why don’t you meet him?’ My God. So I stood up and the audience started to cheer and they started to say, ‘Get up on stage. You know, sing together’. No, I couldn’t possibly. It’s – and he saw I was uncomfortable with it. He said, ‘Well, he’s on holiday now, so leave him alone. Let him enjoy the show’. And they did.”
Denton then asked Diamond if he ever regrets not taking the opportunity to hop up and sing with the legend and King of Rock ‘n Roll. Diamond answered,
You know I thought about it over the years, what would I do, what songs would we do, and it’s not a good idea to come up and sing with another performer when it’s their show and it’s their band, I do know that. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I don’t think it would have been a good idea to touch that, you know, the hem of the god. He was amazing. He was warm and very generous to me, and I think it’s best left at that.
Written and performed by American recording artist Neil Diamond, “Sweet Caroline” is a song released in June 1969 as a single with the title “Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)”. It was arranged by Charles Calello and recorded at American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.
The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week ending August 16, 1969. In addition, it was certified gold by the RIAA on August 18, 1969, for sales of one million singles. Also, “Sweet Caroline” was also the first of fifty-eight entries on the US Easy Listening chart, peaking at #3.
In the autumn of 1969, Diamond performed “Sweet Caroline” on several television shows. It later reached No. 8 on the UK singles chart in 1971.
In a 2007 interview, Diamond stated the inspiration for his song was John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, who was eleven years old at the time it was released.
Diamond sang the song to her at her 50th birthday celebration in 2007. On December 21, 2011, in an interview on CBS’s The Early Show, Diamond said that a magazine cover photo of Caroline Kennedy as a young child on a horse with her parents in the background created an image in his mind, and the rest of the song came together about five years after seeing the picture. However, in 2014 Diamond said the song was about his then-wife Marsha, but he needed a three-syllable name to fit the melody.
The song has proven to be enduringly popular and, as of November 2014, has sold over two million digital downloads in the United States.
Watch the King of Rock ‘n Roll perform “Sweet Caroline” live in his 1970 concert.
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Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline
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