♫ Solitary Man ♫

I almost didn’t play this song tonight.  I had decided on Neil Diamond earlier in the evening, and when it came time to pick a song, I picked this one.  But then, I was looking into the background information and charting stats when I realized that while it charted in the U.S. and Canada, it wasn’t a huge hit in either, and it didn’t even find its way to the top 100 in the UK or anywhere in Europe.  So, I sighed, and thought that probably nobody but me would like the song, so I switched gears and was going to play Sweet Caroline, which is a nice song, but … it wasn’t what I really wanted tonight.  I was sitting here writing up some trivia to go with the song, and … I suddenly realized I was biting back tears.  It’s been a rough day on several fronts, and … I really wanted to play Solitary Man.  So, I changed gears again, and I don’t feel at all guilty … well, maybe just a wee bit, but not much.

This was Neil Diamond’s first charting single as a recording artist, though he had moderate success previously as a songwriter writing songs for other artists, including the Box Tops and the Monkees.  Of Solitary Man he said …

“After four years of Freudian analysis I realized I had written ‘Solitary Man’ about myself.”

In a 2008 interview …

“Solitary Man was my first song where I tried to really raise the level of my songwriting. It was inspired by the Beatles’ song ‘Michelle,’ which was also written in a minor key. I don’t think I’d ever written a song in a minor key before, it was the first and it kind of broke the dam for me.”

The song would go on to be covered by many others, including T.G. Sheppard, Johnny Cash, HIM, and others, most of which I have never heard.

Solitary Man
Neil Diamond

Melinda was mine ’til the time
That I found her
Holding Jim
And loving him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong
That’s what I thought
Ya, me and Sue
But that died too

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

I’ve had it to here
Bein’ where love’s a small word
Part-time thing
Paper ring

I know it’s been done
Havin’ one girl who’ll loves you
Right or wrong
Weak or strong

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man
Solitary man
Solitary man

Songwriters: Neil Diamond
Solitary Man lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ You Don’t Bring Me Flowers ♫

I was just strolling barefoot through my list of tbp (to be played) songs tonight, and this one struck my fancy, for no particular reason other than that I like it.

The song was written by Neil Diamond with Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the ill-fated daily TV sitcom All That Glitters. The song was intended to be the theme song, but Norman Lear, the show’s creator, changed the concept of the show and the song was no longer appropriate. Diamond then expanded the track from 45 seconds to 3:17, adding instrumental sections and an additional verse. The Bergmans contributed to the song’s lyrics.

In 1977, Diamond released the album I’m Glad You’re Here with Me Tonight, which included the track You Don’t Bring Me Flowers as a solo performance. Early in 1978, Barbra Streisand covered the song on her album Songbird.

These solo recordings were famously spliced together by Gary Guthrie, a producer at the radio station WAKY-AM in Louisville, Kentucky, who did it as a going away present to his wife, whom he had just divorced. Guthrie’s spliced-together duet version first aired on WAKY on May 24, 1978.  It was such a hit, that other stations began doing their own mix of the song.

Guthrie sent CBS his version of the duet on July 27, and by August 3, both Striesand and Diamond had agreed to the release of a duet version. However, rather than issue any of the spliced-together versions, Columbia Records had Streisand and Diamond record a brand-new “official” studio version, which was released on October 17, 1978.

The song reached number one on the Hot 100 chart for two non-consecutive weeks in December 1978, producing the third number-one hit for both singers. The single sold over one million copies, and eventually went Platinum.

In 1979, Guthrie sued CBS for $5 million, claiming that he was improperly compensated for his role in making the song a hit. The suit was unsuccessful, but acknowledgment and gratitude for Guthrie came from CBS with a Gold record plaque, flowers from Diamond and a telegram from Streisand.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Neil Diamond/Barbra Streisand

You don’t bring me flowers
You don’t sing me love songs
You hardly talk to me anymore
When I come through the door at the end of the day

I remember when
You couldn’t wait to love me
Used to hate to leave me
Now after lovin’ me late at night

When it’s good for you, babe
And you’re feeling alright

Well, you just roll over
And you turn out the light
And you don’t bring me flowers anymore

It used to be so natural (Used to be)
To talk about forever
But used-to-be’s don’t count anymore
They just lay on the floor ’til we sweep them away

And baby, I remember
All the things you taught me

I learned how to laugh
And I learned how to cry

Well I learned how to love
And I learned how to lie

So you’d think I could learn
How to tell you goodbye

You don’t bring me flowers anymore

Well, you’d think I could learn
How to tell you goodbye

You don’t sing to me

And you don’t sing me love songs

You don’t bring me flowers anymore

Songwriters: Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Neil Diamond
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Spirit Music Group

♫ Cracklin’ Rosie ♫

Two reasons for this song tonight … first, I love the song, the tune, the rhythm … it just rather makes you want to tap your foot, else get up and dance a bit, yes?  The other reason is that it is stuck in my head, thanks to our friend rawgod, who told me a story about the origins of the song.  Now, the official version, the one Neil told people, goes like this, according to both SongFacts and Wikipedia …

“Cracklin’ Rosie” is a bottle of wine. Neil Diamond got the idea for the song from a folk story of an Indian tribe in Northern Canada who had more men than women. He told David Wild at Rolling Stone: “On Saturday nights when they go out, the guys all get their girl; the guys without girls get a bottle of Cracklin’ Rosie, that’s their girl for the weekend.”

But rawgod has a different version, and I believe his, for he has never given me a reason to doubt his word.  And, I found a tidbit of information to make me think rawgod’s is the true version.  He gave me permission to tell his story here …

“… listen to the words of the song mentioned in the subject line, and if you want read the “meaning” of the lyrics. They will tell you a story. I will tell you the truth.
Unfortunately I cannot remember the date, but early in his career Neil Diamond was doing a cross Canada tour, travelling by train “by himself” from town to town. Of course, one night he stopped in Winnipeg, where I lived. After seeing him in concert, I was walking around downtown Winnipeg, more or less aimlessly, I guess, when who should I see but Neil Diamond. In Manitoba, all wine and spirits are sold in government controlled stores, and they conveniently, at the time, had a store just across from the Canadian National Railway depot. Neil was walking past that store when he checked his watch, and dashed into the store. Of course I followed him in (how could I not), hoping to maybe actually speak to him, or get his autograph or something, but he was almost panicking. Looking at his watch over and over, he asked the clerk what was the cheapest bottle of wine they sold. “Cracklin Rose,” was the answer (pronounced Ro-zay, from the acute accent over the e). In those days all liquor was kept behind the counter to prevent shop-lifting, I guess, and the clerk showed him a bottle. Neil asked “How much?” and the clerk answered something like $2.95. “I’ll take one,” he said and threw a bunch of change on the counter. He took the bottle of wine in its plain brown paper bag, and headed out the door, ran across Main St., and disappeared into the bowels of the train station.
Apparently he got there in time to catch his train, though just barely.

“Cracklin’ Rose, you’re a store bought woman,” and “a poor man’s lady.” They “got on board.” I think they had a very fine time together. When the song came out in 1970 it was his first million seller, and except for the store clerk who probably had no idea who Neil Diamond was at the time, and of course Neil himself, I was the only witness to the true birth of that song.”

Now, rawgod is as honest as they come, even to the point of being painfully so sometimes, but I also found a comment on a website dedicated to Neil Diamond this comment:

maudie says:
September 13, 2006 at 2:27 pm
I read in the notes to “In mY lIFETIME” album that the song is about a cheap bottle of wine that was sold up in Canada. I don’t think Neil would say that if it weren’t what he sang about.

Time doesn’t permit me to dig deeper, and I’m sure you’d like to get to listening and tapping your feet, right?  Thank you, rawgod, for giving this song some additional meaning!  I appreciate it!

Cracklin’ Rosie
Neil Diamond

Cracklin’ Rosie, get on board
We’re gonna ride till there ain’t no more to go
Taking it slow
Lord, don’t you know
Have made me a time with a poor man’s lady

Hitchin’ on a twilight train
Ain’t nothing there that I care to take along
Maybe a song
To sing when I want
Don’t need to say please to no man for a happy tune

Oh, I love my Rosie child
She got the way to make me happy
You and me, we go in style
Cracklin’ Rose, you’re a store bought woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin’
So hang on to me, girl
Our song keeps runnin’ on

Play it now
Play it now, my baby

Cracklin’ Rosie, make me a smile
Girl if it lasts for an hour, that’s all right
We got all night
To set the world right
Find us a dream that don’t ask no questions, yeah

Oh, I love my Rosie child
You got the way to make me happy
You and me, we go in style
Cracklin’ Rose, you’re a store-baught woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin’
So hang on to me, girl
Our song keeps runnin’ on

Play it now
Play it now
Play it now, my baby

Cracklin’ Rosie, make me a smile
God if it lasts for an hour, that’s all right
We got all night
To set the world right
Find us a dream that don’t ask no question, yeah

Songwriters: Neil Diamond
Cracklin’ Rosie lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ September Morn ♫

Okay, I have a number of friends a generation or so younger than I who laugh and say I’m showing my age when I say I like Neil Diamond, but they don’t scare me off.  I like Neil Diamond.  There, I said it.  Sweet Caroline, Cracklin’ Rosie, I am … I said, Song Sung Blue … and all the rest … they resonate.  Fine, throw those rotten tomatoes if you will, but I still like them.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight … it’s been rather the week from hell and I am, as I told my daughter, rather mad at the world at the moment.  As I was reading and responding to comments tonight, a friend had mentioned the word “September” and that was all it took for my mind to start playing this song, September Morn, in my head.  “We danced until the night became a brand new day …” over and over.

There isn’t a lot of interesting trivia about this song, except perhaps this …

The Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo was 20 years old when she vanished on April 13, 2011. As usual in cases of this nature, a number of “psychics” came forward with information that could assist the investigation. Authorities made it clear that these dubious tips were interfering with the investigation, but volunteer groups pushed to follow the leads.

Among the calls that came in was one from a person who insisted that the lyrics to “September Morn” contained clues to Bobo’s disappearance. Just what the lyrics supposedly revealed about the case was unclear, but it made news along with other odd claims.

Naturally, nothing came of it, although sometime later, one September in 2014, her remains were found.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you … Neil Diamond …

September Morn
Neil Diamond

Stay for just a while
Stay and let me look at you
It’s been so long, I hardly knew you
Standing in the door

Stay with me a while
I only wanna talk to you
We’ve traveled halfway ’round the world
To find ourselves again

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

Look at what you’ve done
Why, you’ve become a grown-up girl
I still can hear you crying
In a corner of your room
And look how far we’ve come
So far from where we used to be
But not so far that we’ve forgotten
How it was before

September morn
Do you remember
How we danced that night away
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

Songwriters: Gilbert Becaud / Neil Diamond
September Morn lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group