The pop singer whose ear-worm of a 60’s hit, “Sweet Caroline,” inexplicably became a Fenway Park crowd sing-along tradition made a surprise appearance at the Red Sox-Royals game this afternoon, apparently voluntarily and at his own expense, to contribute to the festivities as Boston celebrated the end of a violent and frightening week. The song has been played at other ballparks in recent days, even at Yankee Stadium, in a show of solidarity with the besieged city and its residents.
Neil Diamond flew to Boston and contacted the Red Sox slightly before game time, saying he was eager to sing along with himself in the seventh inning. Surprised club officials assented. So he wandered out onto the field, looking paunchy, old and happy, and sang into a microphone while his ancient record played—since this was all impromptu, there was no other accompaniment available. And the crowd loved it: you can watch and listen here.
Unlike David Ortiz, Diamond didn’t have to resort to obscenity to give his appearance emphasis. He gave an unsolicited gift to Boston and Red Sox fans, lending his talents to the celebration without compensation because it was a caring and classy thing to do. It didn’t matter that singing along with his 44 years younger self was hardly flattering, or that the sound was lousy, or even that “Sweet Caroline” is hardly Gershwin or even Billy Joel (I always preferred “Cracklin’ Rosie,” myself). A big, wealthy recording star simply helped the city’s healing along by a generous gesture when there was nothing in it for him.
Neil Diamond is a good guy.