“Sweet Caroline” is anonymous no more


In 1980, we learned who shot J.R. In 2005, we learned the identity

of “Deep Throat.” And this week, we learned the

secret behind another of the great mysteries of the ages: It seems that

Neil Diamond‘s song “Sweet Caroline” was inspired by young Caroline


Neil Diamond has been carrying

this secret around for almost 40 years. However, last week he had the

opportunity to tell Caroline Kennedy that a photograph of her had been

his muse. And this week, he told the world.

"It was a picture of a

little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony … It

was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was

a song in there."

He didn’t write the song until

a few years later, though — in about an hour in a Memphis hotel room.

“It was a No. 1 record and

probably is the biggest, most important song of my career, and I have

to thank her for the inspiration … 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.”

You remember the song, don’t

you? Take a moment to reminisce and check out a video from 1971. Be

sure to pound out the three beats after “sweet Caroline” …

(And this one is just for the Red Sox fans out there.

No explanation necessary.)

Now, I’m giving Neil Diamond

the benefit of the doubt that Kennedy either was the inspiration but

not the literal subject matter, or that the lyrics are not as adult as they seem. Because

I like Neil Diamond and don’t want him to sing about “touchin’ me,

touchin’ you” to little girls.

And I respect Caroline Kennedy, who has always seemed very cool to

me. She was raised in the spotlight and has experienced more personal

tragedy than most of us will ever know. Regardless, she’s educated and

accomplished and has done her share of good works. And she grew up right

pretty, too.

Ergo, if she’s happy to be

“Sweet Caroline,” I’m happy for her.

Of course, now I cannot help

but wonder a little about other great song mysteries. Who is Barry

‘s “Mandy?” (Apparently, the report that she was his

dog is an urban myth.)

What does “American Pie” really mean? And, as the linster asked

when I mentioned the “Sweet Caroline” revelation, will Carly

ever tell us who was “so vain”?

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