1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Neil Diamond
Kathy Willens  /  AP
“It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony,” Neil Diamond recalled of seeing caroline Kennedy in a magazine. “It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.”
updated 11/20/2007 10:19:51 AM ET 2007-11-20T15:19:51

Neil Diamond held onto the secret for decades, but he has finally revealed that President Kennedy’s daughter was the inspiration for his smash hit “Sweet Caroline.”

“I’ve never discussed it with anybody before — intentionally,” the 66-year-old singer-songwriter told The Associated Press on Monday during a break from recording. “I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday.”

He got his chance last week when he performed the song via satellite at Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s 50th birthday party.

Diamond was a “young, broke songwriter” when a photo of the president’s daughter in a news magazine caught his eye.

“It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony,” Diamond recalled. “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, he would write the words and music in less an hour.

Image: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg
Tim Boyle  /  Getty Images
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg turned 50 last week.
“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 enduring hit recently reappeared on the singles chart, thanks in part to the Boston Red Sox. “Sweet Caroline” is played at every home game.

“I think they consider it good luck,” Diamond said, adding that the Red Sox have become his favorite baseball team.

The tune’s return to the charts leaves Diamond “speechless,” he said: “That song was written 40 years ago, so I am just overwhelmed by the fact that it has returned and that, more importantly, people have taken it into their hearts for so many years.”

Diamond is currently at work on a new album, his second collaboration with producer Rick Rubin.

“We’re both very excited about it,” Diamond said. “I think it’s going to be one of my best ever.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

    From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.

    10/1/2014 10:52:45 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:52:45
  2. Want to help? A guide to breast cancer charities

    In the United States an estimated 296,000 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and almost 40,000 women and 410 men will die of the disease. That's one death every 14 minutes, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

    10/1/2014 10:45:11 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:45:11
  3. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

    10/1/2014 7:30:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:30:52
  1. Texas Ebola patient had contact with kids

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a press conference on Wednesday that “some school-age children” had been identified as having contact with the man diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the United States. 

    10/1/2014 5:37:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T17:37:52
  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    Plaza producer: TODAY's #PinkPower event was 'my best day on the job'

    10/1/2014 7:49:32 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:49:32
  1. Getty Images file

    Duchess Kate pulls out of charity event due to morning sickness

    10/1/2014 1:20:02 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T13:20:02