In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, I learned of the completely wonderful Fenway Park tradition in which the Neil Diamond classic “Sweet Caroline” is played during the 8th inning of every Boston Red Sox game. This got me thinking about all the other great Neil Diamond songs that were part of the soundtrack of my childhood.
My Mom had music playing in our home all the time when we were kids. She had a radio in the kitchen that was on every morning as we had breakfast, and she often had vinyl records (remember those?) playing on the “hi-fi” in the living room when we got home from school. My sibs and I grew up on Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Tom Jones. Mom LOVED Neil Diamond, and consequently I LOVED Neil Diamond … to the point that I’m fairly sure I wore out her cherished copy of his 1972 album, Moods.
But even earlier than that, I can remember singing along to the radio whenever we went anywhere in the car with her. This was not usually the case when my Dad was with us … but I blame that on the fact that he was a country & western fan.
One summer there were a couple of popular songs that featured my younger sisters’ names (or something that *sounded* like their names, at least) in the lyrics. My given name is not as common or “rhyme-able” as theirs, and I must have been feeling left out, because my Mom decided that Neil Diamond’s hit “Cherry, Cherry” (which was already several years old at the time) featured MY name.
Now I know what you’re saying to yourself (maybe even out loud), “How could anyone possibly ever think the name Cherry sounded anything like Sharon?” Well, let’s just say that when listening to a tinny, dashboard AM radio from the backseat of a moving car with the windows rolled down, it’s not too tough to convince a little kid that she’s hearing her name in the refrain.
Naturally I was a bit disappointed a couple of years later when I finally figured out that Neil Diamond was not actually singing, “She’s got the way to move me, Sharon,” but by then the adjusted lyric was firmly embedded in my brain because that was the they way my Mom and siblings always sang it the song, which was clearly about ME.
And it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized “Cherry, Cherry” featured some very, shall we say, “adult themes” that are not necessarily appropriate for a six-year-old girl to be singing at the top of her lungs about.
“Ain’t got no right, no, no you don’t, awwww … to be so exciting!”
“Won’t need bright lights, no, no we won’t. Mmmmm … gonna make our own lightening!”
Obviously my musically attuned mother had a pretty good feeling very early on for the kind of adult I was going to be. Thanks, Mom!