Can We Cut It With The “Sweet Caroline” Now?

by evanmcmurry

Look, I’m a good guy, and I want people to be happy and safe and even experience occasional interludes of beauty and so forth. But can we please stop pretending “Sweet Caroline” has a single thing to do with the Boston Red Sox? (To say nothing of its treacly sub-McCartney chorus for children and invalids.) Wander with me down Wikipedia lane:

Boston’s Fenway Park has played the song since at least 1997, and it has been played at every game in the middle of the eighth inning since 2002 by the influence of Amy Tobey, a production agent responsible for the audio played over the park’s loudspeakers. “She had noticed ‘Sweet Caroline’ was used at other sporting events, and she decided to send the sweetness over the Fenway speakers.”

You see, the connection to Fenway is that it was played at so many other places first. For Boston!

I’m not even anti-Neil Diamond; that time Colonel Nilsen got drunk and blasted him out of the speakers of his Saturn in the parking lot of 1600 Newning was a hoot. And I’ll grant the lyrics some accidental poignancy: “And when I hurt/ Hurting runs off my shoulders/ How can I hurt when holding you?” no doubt salved some wounds this weekend, no matter what the words were originally in reference to.

But the tune seems poised to pass into history as “Come Together on Landsdowne,” which would be an unfortunate glide of circumstance and association, rather than actual connection or resonance. “There are two kinds of people who follow the Sox,” Pierce wrote this morning, after the Sunday shows invoked Diamond’s song as shorthand for Boston healing. “The ones that think ‘Sweet Caroline’ is iconic and actual fans. These groups are mutually exclusive.”

People, if you need a rousing anthem with historical connection to the Team That Plays Baseball In Fenway, here’s one, and here’s a punk version for the kiddies. To quote Pierce, “Never has America needed the Ramones more.”

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