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Now a staple at karaoke bars, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” has been plaguing–oops, I meant “entertaining”–music fans for years. Forty years, actually. (Which is how long the Jews wandered, post-Egypt, in the desert before reaching the Holy Land. But I digress.)
But the song’s inspirational origins are now revealed, as Diamond announced to the Associated Press (as reported in Yahoo! News) that he was inspired by a photo of then ten-year-old Caroline Kennedy suited up in her riding gear. Lest this sound creepy, let us allow Mr. Diamond to explain himself:

[…] “It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.” Years later, holed up in a hotel in Memphis, Tenn., he would write the words and music in less an hour.


Diamond made the big revelation (about the song) when he performed it via satellite to Caroline Kennedy on her 50th birthday.

“It was a No. 1 record and probably is the biggest, most important song of my career, and I have to thank her for the inspiration,” he said. “I’m happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy.”

The moral of the story? I guess a 26-year-old singer being inspired by the 10-year-old First Daughter doesn’t have to be creepy, especially when you explain it 40 years later. But here’s the thing: I always thought this song was about Caroline Kennedy. Is there anyone who thought it was another Caroline? If he wanted to hide it, he should have done like the Beatles: “Hey Jules,” inspired by Julian Lennon, was deemed incomprehensible and became, for aesthetics’ sake, “Hey Jude.” (Which can’t possibly be misconstrued.)
(Photo is of JFK, Caroline, and John-John with Caroline’s pony, Macaroni, which was a gift from LBJ. From PresidentialPetMuseum.com, which will tell you everything you need to know about Presidential Pets.)

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