Check out this article on Boston.com about Neil Diamond's inspiration for the song Sweet Caroline. He says that he wrote the tune after seeing a picture of a young Caroline Kennedy and that he had never told anyone until last week when he sang it for her via satellite at her 50Th birthday party. The song has recently reappeared on the charts and Diamond attributes the Red Sox with it's resurgence, which brings me to my point.
I had read an article earlier this year in the Globe sports section. It was one of those "I was just thinking..." type of pieces, and the writer was "just thinking" that the playing and singing of the song as a ritual at Fenway made the fans look like yahoos.
Here's the thing. I've been a Sox fan since before I went to my first game with my dad in 1961. The photo above is of me, Circa 1959, decked out in the fan gear of the day. I know that the Sweet Caroline phenomenon is a relatively new thing and is embraced by the dreaded pink hats and band wagoners, but I like it. Not only do I like it, but I think it's a really great thing.
Before I go any further, I have to tell you a secret. You can't let anyone know what I'm about to tell you because it will ruin my reputation as a hardcore rock, blues and jazz fan. OK, here goes:
I have a lot of Neil Diamond on my iPod.
I grew up with his music. You couldn't turn on the AM radio in your parents car in the 60's without hearing something by him. So, although I quickly moved on to the Beatles and the Stones, Neil will always remind me of cruising shotgun with my dad in his '65 Impala.
That being said, the reason I think it's a great tradition is that it's the ONE AND ONLY piece of music that unites all of my friends and family, regardless of generation, whenever it comes on. Whether I'm flipping burgers at a summer cookout or hosting a Christmas party, when Sweet Caroline starts to pulse out of the speakers every man, woman and child present starts to sing, and that's a really good feeling. A feeling of warmth and brotherhood, a feeling of being a part of something.
Now amplify that feeling to the Nth degree by adding 33,000 total strangers voices to your own little group. If you can't feel the electricity and power of the moment, I say you have no soul.
So, hate it if you must. Despise the fans that participate. Just don't grouse about it and harsh my mellow.
I plan to go right on singing.