By Matt Kelemen
How did “Sweet Caroline” become a cultural phenomenon? Even before flash mobs became in vogue, you couldn’t hear the song publicly without just about everyone in earshot spontaneously responding, “So good! So good! So good!” during the chorus. It’s become the go-to song for any cover band or solo musician with a flagging set, guaranteed to get the crowd’s attention. It also might be the real reason why Neil Diamond, 71, received the 2,475th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month.
Diamond conquered the music industry in classic fashion, starting out as a songwriter alongside Carole King and Gerry Goffin at New York’s legendary Brill Building. Many of Diamond’s songs became hits for other acts (and were heard often by viewers of The Monkees television series) before he charted as a solo artist with “Cherry, Cherry.”
That song—along with “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue” and the aforementioned “Sweet Caroline”—was included on Hot August Night, the 40-year-old live album for which he ostensibly received his Walk of Fame star. In the immediate wake of the honor, you can be sure Diamond is singing “Good times never seemed so good” with particular relish these days.