The story behind hit song Sweet Caroline

Neil Diamond.
Neil Diamond.

ATLANTA • In the late 1960s, Neil Diamond (left) said he was "about to go hungry" and that he had a new baby.

With his career stalling, he needed a hit to bring in the bacon.

"I just had an hour to do it. We had rented space, and in those days, you used to record three songs in three hours, and I had only two songs.

"I had to write one more song," he told Billboard magazine.

That song turned out to be Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good), which peaked at No. 4 in America in 1969.

"That sweet girl... saved me from a fate worse than death - which would've been working as a civilian somewhere," he added.

Diamond, who went on to become one of pop music's most iconic performers, with other hits such as You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1977) and Song Sung Blue (1972), will be feted with a top award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York on June 14.

But was there a real-life Caroline behind the song that bailed him out of tough times?

Diamond, 77, said in 2007 that American president John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline had provided the inspiration.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'The story behind hit song Sweet Caroline'. Print Edition | Subscribe