Ah, Neil Diamond. These days he seems to be known best for that one song that is inexplicably played at every baseball game that ever happens in America. You know, the tune that gets half the stadium to shout monosyllabically along to the brass section. I had a friend named Caroline who was eventually entirely turned off to going to Red Sox games with her dad. I can't imagine why.
Turns out Mr. Diamond wrote plenty more than the anthem to our national pasttime. You may have been enjoying Neil Diamond songs for years without even knowing it. Here are four that might have crept into your iTunes in disguise.
You probably wouldn't expect Neil Diamond and heavy metal ever to intersect. But there you have it: the breakthrough '68 album by Deep Purple of "Smoke on the Water" notoriety features a song penned by Neil Leslie himself. The English rockers threw in a good deal of psychedelic instrumentation to the mix of the track, fitting it in nicely with their prog rock sounds. While The Book of Taliesyn sounds more "classic" than heavy now, it's nice to know that at one time your grandparents could disapprove of you for listening to a Neil Diamond tune.
It might be a little cheap to name an entire album after a song that someone else originally wrote. But Johnny Cash presumably had enough cred in 2000 to do as he pleased, and so he went and christened the third record in the American Recordings series after Neil Diamond's 1966 song. To be fair, it was mostly a cover album, and Cash's cover of "Solitary Man" was one of its highlights. The song had also been covered by Chris Isaak on his fourth album, and went on to be covered by HIM a year after Cash's death. Johnny got to miss out on that last one--Neil wasn't so lucky.
Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon
Tarantino's ear for music elevates many of his scenes from awesome to iconic. And he loves him some ladies dancing like dorks. Urge Overkill's rendition of this track provided the perfect setup to Pulp Fiction's most famous scene. We see Uma Thurman dancing around to this song in John Travolta's trenchcoat and that adorable wig and we get ready for what we know is about to go down. I don't have hard evidence, but I doubt too many of Neil Diamond's songs are used as the preamble to a near-deadly heroin overdose.
I'm A Believer
Really? It took me a while to figure out that this song was even done by The Monkees first. The Smash Mouth version exploded all over the radio back when I was in grade school. It was the hit single off the Shrek soundtrack and I thought it was great, while my mother wondered why some nineties hack was mutilating the music of her adolescence. In retrospect, I'll agree that Micky Dolenz was a hair better of a singer than Steve Harwell. But I never guessed that it was Neil Diamond that provided the substance for The Monkees' skyrocket to fame. What's more, he wrote "I'm A Believer" and three other Monkees hits while still in his early twenties. He'd been given a songwriting job straight out of college. Say what you will about Neil Diamond, but I very much doubt that anything you do in the prime of your life will one day be associated with films about green computer-animated ogres.