The meaning behind Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline

11 July 2021, 19:48

England Euro 2020 fans with Neil Diamond inset
Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline has become popular among England fans. Picture: 1. Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images 2. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

By Jenny Mensah

The 1969 single is being sung by England fans during Euro 2020, but what are the lyrics and meaning behind the song and why is it so popular again?

Neil Diamond stormed the American charts with Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) in 1969 and the song has continued to make an impact ever since.

Released on 28 May that year, the single has gone on to touch every generation and serve as a victory song for sports-lovers in the United States as well as on this side of the pond.

It's recently been taken up by England fans as they celebrate the Three Lions' Euro 2020 bid, which sees them face off in the final against Italy this Sunday. But what are the lyrics and meaning of Sweet Caroline and why are England football fans singing it this year?

Find out more about the ballad-come-sports anthem here.

What are Sweet Caroline's lyrics and meaning?

The lyrics to Neil Diamond's song famously begin: "Where it began, I can't begin to knowing/But then I know it's growing strong".

It appears to tell a story of the bliss of being in love, evoking scenes of "hands, touching hands" before he exclaims: "Good times never seemed so good".

Unsurprisingly, it's this line which seems to resonate with sports fans the most as they celebrate a victory.

See the full lyrics here.

While you'd think the song was solely about a romantic love, in 2007, Diamond said the inspiration from his song came from John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline, who was eleven years old at the time it was released. However, we'd do well to take the crooner's revelation with a pinch of salt, since he sang the song at Caroline Kennedy's 50th Birthday celebration in 2007. Coincidence? Probably not.

Then, in 2014 Diamond changed his tune somewhat when he revealed it was in fact about his then-wife Marcia, but changed it to Caroline because he wanted a three-syllable name to fit the melody.

Why do England fans sing Sweet Caroline?

Sweet Caroline is a song sung by sports fans across the world, but a DJ named Tony Parry is the reason England fans have adopted it during Euro 2020, after he decided to play it when England defeated Germany at Wembley.

Speaking about his decision to play the anthem, he said: "I was going to play Vindaloo, but went with my gut.

"Even the German fans were belting it out in the end. It’s a song that all fans can enjoy."

He added: "The match director said in my in-ear: ‘The world’s been closed for 18 months… let ’em have it’.”

And it's not just us normal folk who've taken it on either. Ahead of England's game against Denmark, Prince Charles also requested the Coldstream Guards Band play a rendition of both Three Lions and Sweet Caroline on the grounds of Clarence House, where he lives with the Duchess of Cornwall.

What other sport fans sing Sweet Caroline?

In the USA, it's famously played at every Red Sox home game in Boston's Fenway Park before the bottom of the 8th inning. The tradition is said to date back to 1997 when the stadium DJ played it in honour of a newborn baby girl born of one of the staff members. The baby was of course named Caroline.

The song is also associated with NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, and on this side of the pond is sung by fans of Aston Villa and Chelsea F.C.