11 of the best ever Neil Diamond songs

17 October 2017, 12:42

Neil Diamond

Veteran singer-songwriter Neil has a career spanning over 50 years and over 100 million albums sold, which is frankly amazing.

To celebrate his stellar career, and his huge live shows at London's O2 Arena this week, we’ve picked out just a handful of Neil's best ever songs.

1. Sweet Caroline (1969)

What other song could we start this list off with? Neil wrote this classic, soaring ballad for his wife Marsha, but her name didn’t have enough syllables for him so he used the name Caroline instead.

2. Love On The Rocks (1980)

Almost 30 years after he started, and Neil was still scoring hits. This song from the film The Jazz Singer climbed to number 2 in the US charts, and was later covered by Gladys Knight among others.

3. I Am I Said (1971)

The catchy, perky melody gets you every time, and it compliments the very personal lyrics beautifully, which Neil says leave him struggling to gather himself after singing live. One to put on and sing along to at the top of your voice.

4. Hello Again (1980)

A beautiful ballad with those gorgeous soaring strings, it’s another song that came from the hit soundtrack for The Jazz Singer. It has since been covered by several artists and orchestras, including Celtic Thunder, Donny Osmond and Steve Cherelle.

5. Cracklin’ Rosie (1970)

This rocking tune helped Neil to break through in the UK, where it charted at number 3, his highest position to that point. Oh, and “who’s Cracklin’ Rosie?”, you ask - it’s actually a type of wine. Neil heard a story about a native Canadian tribe while doing an interview in Toronto, in Canada. The tribe had more men than women, so the lonely men would sit around the fire and drink wine together, inspiring him to write the song.

6. I’m A Believer (1966)

Perhaps the most successful song Neil Diamond ever wrote - although it was the Monkees’ version that made it hugely popular. Written by Neil in 1966, this perfect slice of energetic pop has sold more than 10 million copies.

7. Red Red Wine (1968)

Like ‘I’m A Believer’, 'Red Red Wine' was made successful by another artist, in this case, UB40. But we think there’s a soulfulness to Neil’s original version that’s rather beautiful.

8. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon (1967)

This intense, yearning song had some success when it first came out in 1967, but when a cover by Urge Overkill was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994, it enjoyed a much deserved second wind. It has also been covered by Cliff Richard among others.

9. Play Me (1972)

This acoustic ballad became a must-play song during his live shows to this date, with one critic noting that it has a "bizarre aphrodisiac effect" on certain audience members. However, certain academics weren't fond of his use of the English language on the line: "Song she sang to me, song she brang to me".

10. Forever In Blue Jeans (1979)

This uptempo pop classic had a resounding effect in the sales of jeans in the late 1970s. According to Cotton Incorporated: "Neil Diamond might have been right when he named his 1979 #1 hit 'Forever in Blue Jeans': 81% of women are planning their next jeans purchase to be some shade of blue." 

11. You Don't Bring Me Flowers (with Barbra Streisand) (1978)

This duet is about two lovers who have drifted apart over time, while they "go through the motions" and heartache of life together. It was intended as theme tune for the short-lived TV show All That Glitters, and was later recorded as two separate solo versions by Neil and Barbara. After an early form of 'mashup' featuring the two versions gained popularity, an official duet was recorded by the pair, and it became a huge hit.