One of my most favorite Neil Diamond songs is the early classic "Shilo". The song reminds me of my childhood, playing by myself with my imaginary friend, Alice.
"Shilo" was written and recorded in 1967, but it wasn't released as a single until 1970. At the time it was written, Diamond's label, Bang Records, refused to release "Shilo” since it was a departure from Diamond’s signature pop sound. Disagreement with the label over the release of “Shilo” caused Diamond to leave Bang Records in 1968 and sign with Uni Records.
During his first two years with Uni Records, Neil did not have any hit records. In 1970, Neil had hits with “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy”, and his career was back on track. At that time, Bang Records decided to release “Shilo” as a single. They re-recorded the back track to make the song sound more like Neil’s current sound at the time.
“Shilo” was not considered a hit, climbing to only number 24 on the charts. Despite this, “Shilo” is one of Diamond’s most well-known and beloved songs. It is a staple during his concerts and has appeared on several of Diamond’s albums, including “Just For You” (1967), “Velvet Gloves and Spit” (1968), “His Twelve Greatest Hits” (1974), “The Greatest Hits 1966-1992” (1992), and his latest album, “The Very Best of Neil Diamond” (2011).
“Shilo” is about an imaginary friend, and is autobiographical, based on Diamond’s lonely childhood. I think that a lot of Neil’s fans can relate to the song, which is why it is a hit with fans, even though it wasn’t a hit on the charts.