The sweet Caroline who inspired an American classic

England’s victory over Denmark was celebrated by the crowd with an American classic, Sweet Caroline, by Neil Diamond. The singer liked it – of course – and the song was popular again, 52 years after its release. And, in that way, it reminds us of his inspiration and it wasn’t baseball fields or football fields, but his first wife and a person who lived in the White House. That’s right, in the American capital.

The lyrics, which speak of love, were for Marcia Murphey, whom he married in 1969 (but divorced in 1995). In melodic meter, Marcia didn’t fit in and Neil needed another name. So when he saw the picture of Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (now Schlossberg), the firstborn of Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy, he thought the name was perfect.

According to him, “it was an innocent and beautiful photo and I immediately felt like there was a song there”. Sweet Caroline reached number 1 and went on to be one of the most important songs of Neil Diamond’s career.

The secret of who Caroline lasted for years, but the singer was able to dedicate it to her (and sing the song), on the inspirational muse’s 50th birthday, in 2007.

Involuntary sports anthem


Sweet Caroline became a sports anthem after the Boston Red Sox baseball team began playing the song – which lifts passionate fans up – at all of their games. For them, the song is like a good luck charm and the tradition has been going on since 1997. Since 2002 they have been playing before the game is over. Jimmy Fallon showed the moment in the movie Fever Pitch.

In the United States, Sweet Caroline began to be sung by several teams, including football and boxing (Tyson Fury sang the song, in 2020, after winning). In Australia and Canada, it also became associated with sporting victories.

In the UK, the tradition was imported in 2005, when Northern Ireland sang Neil Diamond‘s hit after beating England. Since 2016, it has been sung at the UEFA Euro, but it was in the English team’s victory over Germany in June 2021 that Sweet Caroline came to prominence again, with 40,000 people singing together, led by the captain, Harry Kane.

Changing the lyrics in times of Covid-19


A part of the chorus sings the touch of hands and, in times of a pandemic, it was precisely the problem to be avoided. For this reason, when he played Sweet Caroline in a live, Neil Diamond changed it to Hands, washing hands, don’t touch me and I won’t Touch you.

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would
But now I

Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely
We filled it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holding you

One, touching one
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would
Oh no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believe they never could
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

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