Favourite songs #2

Published November 07, 2010

There was no Favourite Songs of the Week entry last week, simply because I was basically listening to the same songs as the previous week. This past week, however, I've mainly been listening to Neil Diamond, trying to put together the perfect playlist of his songs. Perfect for me, that is.

Neil Diamond is one of those singular artists that cannot neatly be put into a specific category. Only occasionally introvertive enough to be labelled a singer/songwriter, certainly not an all-out rock artist, and somehow too left-of-centre to be a housewife favourite along the lines of an Engelbert Humperdinck, although it seems his MOR-leanings and success as a concert act often places him in that category. Lately, he's been Rick Rubin-ized and thus rehabilitated as a "credible" rock act. Be that as it may, as far as I'm concerned he has already secured a place in my personal hall of fame simply for writing The Monkee's 'I'm A Believer' and 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You'.

My favourites mainly come from the period on the Bang! and then UNI labels, 1966-1972. So without further ado, here are my five Neil Diamond highlights.

Solitary Man
Neil's first single for Bang! Records is a little folky, and quite simply a great example of mid-Sixties pop song writing.

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon
Famously re-made bu Urge Overkill for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in 1994, but I'm afraid they can't match Neil's original version for intensity and desperation.

This amazing song about having an imaginary friend to take you through the rough times in childhood can be heard in at least four different studio versions/mixes. I prefer the single mix which can be found in the In My Lifetime box set.

Sweet Caroline
Just a lovely pop song with an irresistible sing-a-long chorus. Nuff said.

Cracklin' Rosie
One of three US number one hits for Neil, and number one for no less than seven weeks here in Sweden. Bet you didn't know that. I don't know what else to say about this song except it's a master-class in irresistible catchiness.

Listen to four of the songs here. And hear the single version of Shilo here.