Why Sweet Caroline is The most Popular England Euro 2020 Track

Why Sweet Caroline is The most Popular England Euro 2020 Track

jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Saturday 10th July 2021

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 Why Sweet Caroline is The most Popular England Euro 2020 Track

Euro 2020: How Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline became an accidental football anthem

Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, a song written more than 50 years ago in 1969 about the daughter of a former US president, has become the unofficial anthem of the England team at Euro 2020. And it’s not the only pop song to have been adopted by England fans.

“I’ve never seen anything like it!” cried former England footballer Micah Richards on BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday.

Over on ITV, another former England player-turned-pundit, Gary Neville, soaked up the joyful atmosphere in Wembley Stadium and declared: “This is one of the best experiences I think I’ve had in football.”

They weren’t speaking after England’s men qualified for their first major final since 1966.

They were talking before the semi-final, when 60,000 people were belting out Sweet Caroline as the teams prepared to take to the pitch.

A couple of hours later, the song blasted out of the speakers again, and this time the whole squad linked arms and jumped up and down as they joined in the euphoric chorus.

Somehow, a song first released by an American soft rock star in 1969 has suddenly been adopted as England’s new sporting anthem.

“There are certain songs that you go, ‘I completely get why this is being sung en masse,'” says actor Steve Furst, who performs a Neil Diamond tribute act.

“And a song like Sweet Caroline is in no way a surprise because the Diamond appeal is that he doesn’t overcomplicate anything. That very simple sing-along chorus just makes it perfect, and everyone knows it.”

Paul Carr, professor in popular music analysis at the University of South Wales, who wrote a recent article about what makes a great tournament anthem, adds: “It’s a song that’s got a lot of nostalgic resonance for many of the people who sing it.

“The big thing is simplicity of the melody, and there’s something in the lyrics.”

Simple but emotive phrases like “Good times never felt so good” and “Reaching out, touching me, touching you” are coupled with the anticipatory build-up, leading to a rousing chorus. That all makes it a feelgood communal sing-along – especially after more than a year of lockdowns and social distancing.

Diamond has said he actually wrote the love song about his wife Marcia, but her name didn’t fit the tune. However, he had remembered a magazine photo he had seen of Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.

His song reached number four in the US chart and number eight in the UK and became a staple of Diamond’s live shows. But the first hint of its potential as a sporting crowd-pleaser came in the late 1990s when it was played during a Boston Red Sox baseball game for an employee who had named her newborn Caroline.

The Red Sox decided it was good luck and started playing it every week from 2003. In 2013, the singer pledged all future royalties from the tune to a charity supporting victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Other teams on both sides of the Atlantic began to adopt the song, from the NFL’s Carolina Panthers to the Northern Irish football side.

Arsenal played it after their 2017 FA Cup semi-final victory, it has been claimed by fans of Aston Villa, and it has often been deployed to rousing effect in other sports from cricket to rugby league and boxing.

It’s far from the first pop song to find a new lease of life in a sport stadium. Liverpool FC’s anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone was written for the hit musical Carousel, while Scotland fans have claimed the 1977 hit Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.

After England’s Euro 2020 quarter-final win over Germany, Wembley DJ Tony Parry said he went with his instinct to play Sweet Caroline instead of Fat Les’s 1998 World Cup anthem Vindaloo.

He told TalkSport: “I was going to play Vindaloo, but went with my gut. Even the German fans were belting it out in the end. It’s a song that all fans can enjoy.

“The match director said in my in-ear, ‘The world’s been closed for 18 months… let ’em have it’.”

Sweet Caroline has even threatened to eclipse Three Lions as the England fans’ song of choice at the pandemic-delayed tournament.

“I thought Sweet Caroline went slightly better than Three Lions in the post-match sing-song,” Three Lions co-writer Frank Skinner noted after the Germany game. “I felt like we’d beat Germany and lost to Neil Diamond in extra time.”

Three Lions was originally penned as England’s official track for Euro 96 by Skinner, fellow comedian David Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie, who captured the football-fevered dreams of a host nation starved of success.

A firm fan favourite by the time England thrillingly progressed to the semi-finals – only to gallantly lose to Germany on penalties when current England manager Gareth Southgate, then a player, saw his spot-kick saved – the song’s refrain of “30 years of hurt” could equally eulogise glorious failure.

The track has continued to ingrain itself in culture, topping the charts on a record four separate occasions, most recently during England’s 2018 World Cup run, before sound tracking the side on this summer’s run to the final.

But with Sweet Caroline now getting such a huge raucous reaction, news of its popularity has even reached 80-year-old Diamond himself, who told The Telegraph he was “thrilled” at the scenes. He also sent a good luck message to the players before Wednesday’s semi-final.

The England squad have certainly thrived in the atmosphere it creates.

“You can’t beat a bit of Neil Diamond,” Southgate told ITV before Wednesday’s game. “It’s just a really joyous song, I think, that brings people together.”

Three other pop songs for England fans to sing:

Whole Again – Atomic Kitten

Originally a hit for the girl group back in 2001, England fans revived the pop ballad at the height of World Cup mania in the summer of 2018, borrowing lyrics from Three Lions to rework it as an ode to Southgate and the team.Fans changed the lyrics “Baby you’re the one, you still turn me on, you can make me whole again” to “Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on, football’s coming home again”.

In light of renewed interest at Euro 2020, the girl group – now comprising Liz McClarnon, Jenny Frost and Natasha Hamilton – announced on Tuesday that they were releasing the new version.

They gave a public performance of the track, called Southgate You’re The One (Football’s Coming Home Again), in Leicester Square ahead of the match on Wednesday, backed by the Hyde Park Brass band.

They said it had been a “whirlwind couple of days”, but they were “super excited” to contribute to the celebrations.

Freed From Desire – Gala

Gala’s 90s euro dance track was first fully embraced by Northern Ireland’s fans during Euro 2016.

They adopted a version paying tribute to the club form of striker, Will Grigg, whose goals had helped Wigan win League One that season and inspired Latics supporter Sean Kennedy to change the lyrics to “Will Grigg’s on fire… your defence is terrified”.

It was then adapted by England fans to the tune of “Vardy’s on fire” and remains popular in football celebrations across nations, breaking the language barrier with its effortlessly chantable “na, na” chorus.

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Jack and Meg White’s 2003 mega-smash has its beginnings as a football anthem at the 2006 World Cup, when Italy fans celebrated their team’s success in Germany.

The squad would also eventually join in, singing the guitar refrain as part of their victory celebrations. It has since become the soundtrack to a plethora of sporting events and crowd celebrations worldwide.

Discussing the track’s ubiquity as a chant in 2014, White told US TV host Conan O’Brien: “People come up to me all the time, and they think it makes me mad for some reason.”

“I don’t know why they think it upsets me. As a songwriter, that’s the greatest thing that could ever happen. It becomes folk music.”

By Ian Youngs & Alex Taylor

It has become an anthem for many sports in England, from darts to rugby league, with fans revelling in the thought that “good times never seemed so good”.

Yet its origin as a sporting anthem appears to be across the Atlantic where Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox lays claim to sparking its popularity.

It is claimed that during a game at the Red Sox’s Fenway Park stadium in 1997, Amy Tobey, an employee in charge of ball-park music, played ‘Sweet Caroline’ because someone she knew had just had a baby named Caroline.

For the next few years, the song would be played on select occasions but that all changed when Dr Charles Steinberg joined the Red Sox as executive vice president of public affairs in 2002 and came to the conclusion that the song had transformative powers, so ordered it to be played during every game.

On April 20, 2013, in the emotional first game back at Fenway Park following the Boston Marathon bombings, Diamond came out to the diamond to play his song live.

It was at that time that Super League side Castleford, who had appointed a new head coach in Daryl Powell, began to look at ways to introduce some razzamatazz to an ageing Wheldon Road, which became the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

Then chief executive Steve Gill, a Neil Diamond fan, had become aware of the crowd reaction to ‘Sweet Caroline’ at the Red Sox and segments were played, along with Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ and Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’, post match to gauge fans’ views.

The Tigers’ media manager Tom Maguire explained: “Sweet Caroline got the biggest reaction and it stuck.”

Maguire says it was played in full for the first time after full-back Luke Dorn scored a last-minute, match-winning try against Wigan on March 9, 2014 and, coincidence or not, Diamond’s catchy tune became something of a lucky charm as Castleford enjoyed a remarkable upturn in fortunes under Powell.

The Tigers turned back the clock to the era of the ‘Classy Cas’ side of the 1960s and 70s, reaching the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in 2014 and a maiden Super League Grand Final three years later after finishing top of the table for the first time in the club’s 91-year history.

‘Sweet Caroline’ is only played after a victory, however, so the Tigers fans will be hoping it will ring around Wembley at the final whistle to the Betfred Challenge Cup final against St Helens on Saturday week.

It is not traditionally associated with England’s football team but after Wembley Stadium DJ Tony Parry opted to play it over Fat Les’ Vindaloo after the last-16 win over Germany, it has been sung by supporters ever since with manager Gareth Southgate a big fan. “You can’t beat a bit of Neil Diamond,” the Three Lions boss said. “It’s just a really joyous song, I think, that brings people together.”

‘Sweet Caroline’ – Lyrics & why England fans sing Neil Diamond classic hit

To a songbook replete with hits like World in Motion and Three Lions, add the Neil Diamond classic

‘Sweet Caroline’ lyrics.

Where it began,

I can’t begin to knowing,

But then I know it’s growing strong

Was in the spring,

Then spring became the summer,

Who’d have believe you’d come along?

 

Hands,

Touching hands,

Reaching out,

Touching me,

Touching you…

 

Sweet Caroline!

Good times never seemed so good.

I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would

 

But now I…

Look at the night

And it don’t seem so lonely.

We filled it up with only two.

And when I hurt,

Hurting runs off my shoulders,

How can I hurt when holding you?

 

One,

Touching one,

Reaching out,

Touching me,

Touching you…

 

Sweet Caroline!

Good times never seemed so good.

I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would, oh no, no.

 

Sweet Caroline!

Good times never seemed so good.

Sweet Caroline!

I believed they never could.

 

Aston Villa supporters have been singing the song for years, as have Chelsea fans, and it appears that there has been some assimilation among the national team fans.

“It’s just a really joyous song, I think, that brings people together.” Gareth Southgate.

It has also been used as a walkout song for British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua.

 TOP TWENTY TWO OF THE DAY

Top 22 Neil Diamond Song Chart Appearances

  1. Cracklin’ Rosie 1970
  2. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers 1978
  3. I Am… I Said 1971
  4. Holly Holy 1969
  5. Song Sung Blue 1972
  6. Long Fellow Serenade 1974
  7. Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) 1969
  8. Love On the Rocks 1980
  9. Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon 1967
  10. Cherry, Cherry 1966
  11. Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show 1969
  12. If You Know What I Mean 1976
  13. Desiree 1977
  14. Forever in Blue Jeans 1979
  15. Hello Again 1981
  16. Thank the Lord for the Night Time 1967
  17. He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother 1970
  18. Solitary Man 1970
  19. You Got to Me 1967
  20. Shilo 1970
  21. Beautiful Noise 1976
  22. Yesterday’s Songs

DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH EVERYDAY

 INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln.

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…singing out Sweet Caroline.

GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY

I’m reading a great book about an immortal dog – I’m finding it impossible to put down.

LOVE IS…

Love is…Sweet Caroline.

TURN…TURN…TURN!

A time for Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon…A time for I Am I Said.

YOUR HISTORY

10th July

1040  Lady Godiva rides naked on horseback through Coventry, according to legend, to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes.

The legend of Lady Godiva is one of the most famous tales to have come down to us from medieval England, yet how much is fact and how much fiction remains unclear.

The story tells how Lady Godiva, married to the local ruling Leofric, Earl of Merica, pleaded with her husband to reduce the crippling taxes on the city of Coventry. Finally the Earl, sick of her pleas, says he will, but only if she rides though the town naked. The lady then covers her body with her long hair and asks the population to stay inside and bar doors and windows. The people comply out of respect, all except one man named Tom, the origin of our term peeping Tom.

Lady Godiva certainly existed, the chronicler Florence of Worcester (d. 1118) mentions Leofric and Godiva but not her infamous ride. The earliest surviving source is the Chronica by Roger of Wendover (d. 1236). A later source, Ranulf Higden, adds that Leofric did take away all taxes except for those on horses. During the reign pf Edward I (1272-1307) Coventry did indeed have no taxes imposed on it except for horses. Peeping Tom however appears to be a later 17th century addition to the story.

In 1997 Coventry, after a many decades, brought back the city’s tradition of a parade to commemorate their famous noblewoman.

1913  World’s official highest recorded temperature at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California at 134 °F (56.7 °C)

BOOK OF THE DAY

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RETRO HIT RECORD RAMBLINGS

Today’s reflections of a Top Hit Record is the main feature Blog Post “Why Sweet Caroline is The most Popular England Euro 2020 Track”

 

 

 

©2021 Phil M Robinson