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Neil Diamond Reveals the Cute, Pervy Roots of ‘Sweet Caroline’


Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Late yesterday, singer Neil Diamond revealed that the inspiration for his famous song “Sweet Caroline” was a girlish Caroline Kennedy, who was 12 when the song was originally released. He even performed the song via satellite at Kennedy’s 50th-birthday party last week, which friends say was a thrill for the charitable New Yorker. This unwraps one of music’s great riddles, in the order of “Who is Carly Simon singing about in, ‘You’re So Vain’?” and “Hey Steve Miller, what the hell is a ’pompatus’?”

Diamond, 66, said he was a “young, broke songwriter” in the ‘60s when he saw a cute photo of Caroline Kennedy in a magazine. “It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony,” he recalled. “It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.”

Wait a minute … There may be a lot of complicated lyrics to that song, but we seem to remember at least a couple that aren’t “little girl” appropriate…

And now I, I look at the night, whooo
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two, oh
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulder
How can I hurt when holding you

[Ed. note: How come we never noticed the weird “shoulder” line before?] And…

Warm, touchin’ warm, reaching out
Touching me, touching you

And who could forget the most erotic part of the song, which is not technically part of the lyrics but is required chanting for all high-school dancing:


Yeah, um, looking at the above picture of Caroline with these lyrics in mind makes us a little nauseous. Kind of like the time when we saw Neil Diamond live and he rose up through the floor in a blast of steam wearing a sequined jumpsuit. Except this time, it isn’t the nausea of joy.

’Sweet Caroline’ Revealed [Boston Globe]

Neil Diamond Reveals the Cute, Pervy Roots of ‘Sweet Caroline’