Neil Diamond’s songs may be considered oldies, but they continue to impact people worldwide.
How do we rank the music of an artist who has sold millions of records around the world?
It wasn’t easy, but we narrowed it down to his seven greatest.
Let’s jump in!
The Neil Diamond Story
Neil Diamond was born on January 24, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. Diamond had a musical upbringing and participated in the school choir. He received his first guitar when he was 16 and started taking lessons.
In the 1960s, Diamond dropped out of New York University to write songs, and shortly after, he released his first singles. For the next two decades, he created hit after hit.
During Diamond’s 60-year career, he has sold more than 130 million records worldwide, and Billboard has named him the 25th Greatest artist of all time. He has also recorded 77 albums and released 94 singles.
Many of Diamond’s songs have charted throughout the world. He has had ten #1 singles on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. Diamond has also had 38 Top 40 singles and 16 Top 10 albums.
On January 22, 2018, Neil Diamond announced his retirement from touring. The announcement came after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Though, thankfully, he still writes and records music.
We’re thrilled to present Neil Diamond’s seven greatest songs.
#7 Song Sung Blue
About the Song: Neil Diamond wrote Song Sung Blue in the early 70s. The second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21 inspired him. The tune reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, #14 on UK Singles charts, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Diamond included the hit on many of his live and compilation albums.
Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton, and Andy Williams also recorded versions.
Me and you are subject to the blues now and then But when you take the blues and make a song You sing them out again
First Appearance: Song Sung Blue first appeared on Diamond’s 1972 Moods album.
#6 Hello Again
About the Song: Diamond recorded Hello Again for the movie The Jazz Singer and its soundtrack album. Neil Diamond and Alan Lindgren wrote the tune. The 1981 single reached #70 on Billboard Top Pop Singles, #6 on Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary. It also peaked at #51 on the UK Singles Chart.
Donny Osmond, Steve Cherelle, and Celtic Thunder recorded and released versions of the tune.
Maybe it’s been crazy And maybe I’m to blame But I put my heart above my head We’ve been through it all And you loved me just the same And when you’re not there I just need to hear
First Appearance: As mentioned above, Hello Again was first on the scene in the 1980 movie, The Jazz Singer
#5 Love on the Rocks
About the Song: Neil Diamond and Gilbert Bécaud wrote this track for The Jazz Singer movie and soundtrack. Paul Nicholas performed a punk/new wave version of it for the movie. However, Diamond’s version appears on the film’s soundtrack. The 1981 single reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary, and #17 in the UK.
Several other artists recorded the tune, but none of them performed as well as Diamond’s version. Millie Jackson included a cover for her 1981 album Just a Lil’ Bit Country. That same year, Bécaud released a french version called L’Amour est Mort.
Gave you my heart Gave you my soul You left me alone here With nothing to hold Yesterday’s gone Now all I want Is a smile
First Appearance: Love on the Rocks also debuted In the 1980 movie The Jazz Singer.
#4 I Am…I Said
About the Song: Neil Diamond wrote it about his dreams and aspirations. He also received inspiration for the text after he experienced rejection after auditioning for a movie about Lenny Bruce.
Fans around the world connected with I am…I Said. The track charted in Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, and Canada. Diamond won the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for the tune.
Many artists have covered the track, including Checkmates, Ltd. and Billy Ray Cyrus.
Well I’m New York City born and raised But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home New York’s home But it ain’t mine no more
First Appearance: I Am…I Said was released on Diamond’s 1971 Stones album.
#3 Forever in Blue Jeans
About the Song: This tune was written by Neil Diamond and Richard Bennett. The single made it to #20 on Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.
Since the track talks about blue jeans, various companies used it to promote jeans. The most notable promotion features Will Ferrell impersonating Neil Diamond. In the 2001 ad for the Gap, Ferrell sings a version of the first verse of Forever in Blue Jeans.
And if you pardon me I’d like to say We’d do okay Forever in blue jeans, babe And long as I can have you Here with me I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans, babe
First Appearance: Diamond’s 1978 You Don’t Bring Me Flowers album contained the first recording of Forever in Blue Jeans.
#2 Cracklin’ Rosie
About the Song: This 1970s track was written by Neil Diamond. The inspiration behind the song, if it’s true, is a unique one. Diamond used a folk story about a First Nations tribe with more men than women. Each Saturday night, the lonely men without women would sit by the fire and drink bottled “Crackling Rosé” wine.
Cracklin’ Rosie was Diamond’s first #1 on Billboard Hot 100. It also charted internationally.
Hitchin’ on a twilight train Ain’t nothing here that I care to take along Maybe a song To sing when I want No need to say please to no man For a happy tune
First Appearance: Cracklin’ Rosie first appeared in 1970 on Diamond’s On Tap Root Manuscript album.
#1 Sweet Caroline
About the Song: Neil Diamond gives two different reasons for writing this favorite sing-along song. The first is as a tribute to his then-wife, Marsha. Her name, however, didn’t have the correct number of syllables for the melody, so he chose Caroline. Diamond also said he wrote Sweet Caroline for JFK’s daughter, Caroline, even singing it at her 50th birthday celebration.
Initially, this lively tune was called Sweet Caroline Good Times Never Seemed So Good. It reached #4 on Billboard Hot 100. On August 18, 1969, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it gold after it sold one million singles.
But now I look at the night And it don’t seem so lonely We fill it up with only two And when I hurt Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders How can I hurt when holdin’ you
First Appearance: Diamond’s 1969 album Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show held the first recording of Sweet Caroline.
Neil Diamond’s Honorable Mention Songs
While Diamond has certainly had his share of hit songs, he’s also written songs that others turned into huge successes. These are two we feel are at the top of that list.
I’m a Believer
Neil Diamond wrote the Monkees’ 1966 hit single, I’m a Believer. Their version reached #1 on Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the UK Singles Chart. Two days after its release, The RIAA certified it Gold. Diamond released his own version with additional words for his 1979 album September Morn.
Red Red Wine
In 1967, Diamond wrote and recorded Red Red Wine for his Just for You album. It reached #62 on Billboard Hot 100. UB40 recorded a reggae version in 1983, which reached #1 in the UK. They re-released the track in 1988, and it made it to #1 on Billboard Hot 100. When Diamond performs the song, he always uses UB40’s reggae arrangement.
Which Neil Diamond Song is Your Favorite?
There you have it. Our picks for Neil Diamond’s greatest hits. What do you think? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.