Jan 242020

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Today Neil Diamond reaches his three score and nineteen. Parkinson’s disease has taken him away from touring, but he assured fans that “I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come.” These projects include a Broadway musical and an upcoming Las Vegas benefit show. If that wasn’t enough, his songs continue to resonate with listeners today – “Sweet Caroline” was just chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

And if THAT wasn’t enough, his songs remain popular cover material, no matter who’s doing it or how. We’ve found five covers that take the words and music of the Jewish Elvis to their own personal Gracelands.

Robert Wyatt – I’m a Believer (Neil Diamond cover)

Of course, we know “I’m a Believer” best as a Monkees song. That’s how Robert Wyatt knew it, and his cover led to a now-legendary performance on Top of the Pops, where, rather than follow the producers’ squeamish request for him to perform from a wicker chair, he sang from his wheelchair. Here’s an excellent piece about the making of the song and the episode.

Della Reese – Solitary Woman (Neil Diamond cover)

Back before she was an angel touching people, Della Reese was a singer who touched people with her voice. Her cover of “Solitary Man” flips both the gender and the attitude; where Diamond sings with a feeling of resignation, Reese rings out with defiance, taking real pleasure in being who she is.

Bobby Womack – Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond cover)

The Boston Red Sox have kind of taken over “Sweet Caroline,” using it as a big singalong before the bottom of the eighth, but it’s popular with other clubs as well, including Penn State, Iowa State, and Oxford United. For some reason, none of them follow Bobby Womack’s soulful arrangement. Maybe it’s because his performance is in a class by itself.

Deep Purple – Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond cover)

Quentin Tarantino made Urge Overkill’s cover of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” famous when he used it in Pulp Fiction. A quarter century later, he dipped into the Diamond cover well again. Deep Purple’s “Kentucky Woman” serves as music for Brad Pitt to fix antennas by in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Keyboardist Jon Lord gets to shine here in a big way, and the song actually made it into the top 40 in America, which says a lot about the adventurous radio programming of the late ’60s.

Killdozer – I Am, I Said (Neil Diamond cover)

After a failed audition to portray Lenny Bruce onscreen, Diamond went into therapy, leading him to spend four months composing “I Am… I Said,” a forceful assertion of self that went top-five. Killdozer’s cover never reached those chart heights, but as far as being forceful goes, it blows the original right off the mountaintop. They even take the silliness out of the line “no one heard at all, not even the chair,” and that’s no mean feat.

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  20 Responses to “They Say It’s Your Birthday: Neil Diamond”

Comments (20)
  1. A very happy birthday neil i have been a fan from the start

  2. I’m a fan when you first come to the salt palace in salt lake city tickets were 5.50 a piece we got second row you were with a group cant remember the group but came to here you sing I was hooked ever since and have been to everyone of your concerts in salt lake city ever since love your music my favorite is forever in blue Jean’s among others thank you

  3. I have loved his music since the first time I heard A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You on the Monkees tv show almost 53 years ago. I was all of 10 1/2. Thanks, Neil, for all of the music, it’s been one hello of a ride!!! God bless & Happy Birthday!!!

  4. I adore you Neil Diamond! I’ve been to many of your concerts. Your music is my inspiration!!
    Be well!.

  5. Happy Birthday Neil from a long time fan, you are the Real Deil! I sang Juliet at my jr high talent show Other classmates didn’t know you but my teachers sure did lol best wishes and God Bless you!

  6. Happy birthday Neil
    I fell in love with you when I was 17
    You are my fantasy

  7. Happy Birthday Neil,
    You leave me with precious memories

  8. Happy Birthday Mr. Neil Diamond we share the same day January 24th which is so cool. I thought u were such a babe when a teenager love ur music just amazing such gift u have. 10 yrs younger than u and u are still so handsome. Many prayers for u that the lord heal you. Bless you

  9. Happy Birthday Neil Diamond! You have been my favorite entertainer for 40 years. And I still get a rush everytime I hear your songs played. My greatest regret is that I have never had the opportunity to see you in concert. Your still so very handsome. Many prayers for you Mr. Diamond

  10. Happy Birthday ! I have loved you and your music. You are a sweet guy, thankyou for the all the love and joy you have given. I hope the best for you always. <3

  11. Happy birthday Neil , I feel like we know each other , my mother listened to you and I did growing up , I killed her hot August night record from playing it so much ,she seen you in grand Rapids mi ,she passed away jan 12 ,2013 and I miss her so much so when you came to witchia ks my husband bought 2 tickets for me and a friend , I laughed, cried and sang along so much I lost my voice , but most of all I could feel my mother in spirit singing right with me , my husband would have when with but we found out he has stage 4 cancer , congratulations on your Colorado home I guess I should say hello neighbor , again happy birthday and thank you for many many years of enjoyment and love

  12. I absolutely love Neil Diamond. I’ve seen him in concert about 4 times. Would love to see him again and again. There is none better. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEIL

  13. Happy Birthday & many more Neil! Thanks for giving the World your music, your time & all the man you are!

  14. From the trees at the Greek theater to Reno Nevada I wish you a very happy birthday

  15. Happy 79th B-DAY Neil been a follower since day 1 Never forget when you sang SWEET CAROLINE AT FENWAY! YOU ARE AWESOME LOTS OF LOVE

  16. Happy Birthday! I just love your music!

  17. Happy birthday sorry to late but many more

  18. Happy Birthday Neil .From Liverpool UK
    My wife and I have have been fans for oh so many years ,We have been to so many
    concerts your music has been part of our lives PG in June we celebrate our 55th anniversary .
    Tonight we have been watching you at Gladstonebury amazing . Lchaime for Sunday
    80 Years young
    Fans forever Jackie & Alan

  19. Happy Birthday Neil! May the universe shower you with with the love you inspire!
    The depth of your artistic vision has always touched me. From Sheffield in the UK
    and sometimes Spain. Be! Be your own fabulous self today and always!
    Love and light, Fay

  20. The line “no one heard at all, not even the chair” is not silly nor stupid. Neil Diamond went into psychoanalysis at the time he wrote this song. The chair refers to a certain kind of therapy where the patient relays his thoughts to an empty chair while a psychoanalyst.

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