Song 209: Neil Diamond, “Cherry, Cherry” (1966)

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I always forget how long Neil Diamond has been around. He’s primarily thought of as a ’70s schlockmeister, but he’s been releasing well-written songs since 1962. He worked for years in the Brill Building, the song factory where some of your favorites were written and produced.

“Cherry, Cherry” was produced by two of the Brill Building’s ace songwriters, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (composers of hits like “Be My Baby” and “Da Doo Ron Ron”). You can hear their pop expertise in this track, which incorporates many different musical ideas–that acoustic guitar riff, the little breakdown that comes after the first chorus–to make one big catchy concoction.

I’m always surprised when I’m reminded that songs like “Cherry, Cherry,” “Solitary Man,” and “Sweet Caroline” were released as early as they were. Then again, despite Diamond’s place in the national consciousness as Mr. Seventies, his songs sound like they exist in their own timeline, their own pop universe. The fact that “Cherry, Cherry” was released the same year as Revolver is crazy to me. I don’t know if it seems like it should have come earlier or later than the Beatles landmark, but it doesn’t sound right.

So why, out of all of Neil Diamond’s great songs, did I choose “Cherry, Cherry?” I just think it’s awesome. I love the acoustic guitar, the handclaps, the way he says “aaall right.” Everything about it is just perfectly placed, and it’s one of those songs whose spirit is infectious. The minute it comes on the radio, you want to stand up, clap, and dance. Neil Diamond brings out the schlockmeister in all of us, and for that we should be grateful.

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