Our 10 Favorite Neil Diamond Songs

Neil Diamond Songs

Photo: Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Our Top 10 Neil Diamond Songs list looks at one of the most successful solo artists of the 1970s. You could not turn on your AM or FM radio in the 1970s without hearing a Neil Diamond song within the hour. With a string of nonstop hits for over a decade, Neil Diamond’s songs crossed many musical genres. His song “Sweet Caroline” has become ingrained in pop culture across many different generations. Not many people on this planet living in civilized societies have not heard of “Sweet Caroline.”

Like Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond’s music attracted a diverse audience. At times, he was pure rock and roll’ while at times, he could deliver an adult contemporary ballad that would cross over into Engelbert Humperdinck’s territory. From “Cherry, Cherry” to “Love on the Rocks,” Neil Diamond’s songs knew no musical boundaries. Ultimately, Neil Diamond’s legacy defines a great singer, songwriter, and performer with a unique voice and sound that compares to no one else.

Our 10 Top 10 Neil Diamond Songs list looks at some of the most iconic Neil Diamond songs with a few surprises to define that he was not just about the hits. Neil Diamond is one of the biggest-selling musical artists of all time. Choosing only ten Neil Diamond songs from his vast catalog is no easy feat. The man had close to forty top-charting singles throughout his career. That’s not counting all the great album tracks. As you go through this list you will undoubtedly say, “how could they have forgotten…. Well, we didn’t forget your song; we chose another great one instead. We love Neil Diamond, and we know you do too.

# 10 – I Am…I Said

We open our top 10 Neil Diamond songs list with one of his most loved songs, “I Am…I Said.” It starts out with a tender guitar lick that sails into a sweet string line, setting the tone for something magical.  This is such an emotional song that tugs at your heartstrings with every passing beat of the song. It’s a song for longing to go back home. A home that is no longer his. We all have felt that at some time in our lives.

# 9 – Play Me

These Neil Diamond songs are so beautiful that we are almost at a loss for words to describe them. “Play Me” is just one of those songs that fit that “too beautiful to describe” category. The wonderful song was released on Neil Diamond’s album Moods. The record was released in 1972. “Play Me” was released as a single from the album. The song reached number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. Many artists, including the legendary Irish rock band U2, have covered the song.

# 8 – Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon

There are many great versions of the Neil Diamond song “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.” Nonetheless, we will always love the original version best. “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” was initially released on Neil Diamond’s second album, Just For You. The album was released in 1967. It is a hard-to-find album as it was never released on CD.  “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” was a top 10 hit for Neil Diamond in 1967. The song became popular again in the 1990s when Urge Overkill recorded it for the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack.

# 7 – Cracklin’ Rosie

Cracklin’ Rosie” was Neil Diamond’s first number-one single. The song “Cracklin’ Rosie” was issued on the album Tap Root ManuscriptThe album was released in 1970. The song “Cracklin’ Rosie” was the record’s opening track. It was released as a single and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It would be the first of three number-one singles that Neil Diamond would celebrate throughout his magical career.

# 6 – Forever In Blue Jeans

We continue our Top 10 Neil Diamond Songs list with a song that stands as the most recent Neil Diamond song to make this list. The term recent may not be the best choice of words since the song was released in 1979, yet all the other songs on this Neil Diamond songs list were released at earlier periods. Neil Diamond has continued to release great music since the 1970s, so we are not trying to ignore his later period. He released so many incredible songs during his first ten years; there was only so much room on this list for the great ones.

“Forever In Blue Jeans” was released on Neil Diamond’s 1978 album You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. The song was released as the second single from the album after the mega-selling duet with Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” The song “Forever In Blue Jeans” reached the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, peaking at number twenty.

# 5 – I’m A Believer

One can not compose a top 10 Neil Diamond Songs list without including the monster hit “I’m A Believer.” The song became one of the band The Monkees biggest hits. The song became a number-one hit for The Monkees in 1966. It also was the biggest-selling song of 1967. Neil Diamond himself recorded the song multiple times.

Neil Diamond released “I’m A Believer” in  1967 on the album Just For You. Diamond re-recorded the song for his 1979 album September Morn. The band Smash Mouth also covered the song for the animated film Shrek. Once again, the song was a significant hit and introduced a very young audience in the 2000s to the music of Neil Diamond.

# 4 – Solitary Man

The classic Neil Diamond song “Solitary Man” is number four on our top 10 Neil Diamond songs list. “Solitary Man” was Neil Diamond’s first single release of his career. Neil Diamond recorded the song for Bang Records in 1966. It was issued before his first album, The Feel of Neil Diamond. The record company would include “Solitary Man” on the album.  Many artists have covered the song over time. One of the most exceptional covers was done by the great Johnny Cash.

# 3 – Cherry Cherry

As we get closer to the number one spot on our top 10 Neil Diamond songs list, we turn to one of Neil Diamond’s earliest and biggest hits. The great Neil Diamond song “Cherry Cherry” was released in 1966 as a stand-alone single. It would become Neil Diamond’s first top 10 hit as the song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s three-chord progression would be copied many times by various artists. For example, The Romantics used a similar progression in their song “What I Like About You.” John Mellencamp also did the same with his song R.O.C.K. in The USA.

Six years after Neil Diamond enjoyed great success with this great song, he would release a live version of the tune from his platinum-selling album Hot August Night. The two-record set live album was released in 1973.

# 2 – Sweet Caroline

Not listing “Sweet Caroline” at the number one position on this top 10 Neil Diamond songs list was a hard decision. How could we not list “Sweet Caroline” as number one since it is so quickly argued that “Sweet Caroline” is Neil Diamond’s most famous song? As we said in this article’s intro, “Sweet Caroline” is a song that has become ingrained in popular culture on a massive level. It’s one of the most popular songs at all social gatherings. “Sweet Caroline” is sung in many major league professional sports stadiums.

The song has become more popular than Neil Diamond himself. So why not number one? We had to be true to ourselves because the next one was a song of such artistic achievement and beauty. Nonetheless, there’s no denying the impact of ” Sweet Caroline ” on popular culture. It’s an impact that every artist hopes to achieve in their lifetime, but very few ever do.

# 1 – If You Know What I Mean

Every great musical artist has that one moment in their career when they compose a song of brilliance that stands out among all their other significant accomplishments. These are artists who have succeeded time and time again in releasing many great songs that enjoy both commercial and critical success. However, there is always that one song that causes everyone to stand back, including the artists themselves, and say wow! Bruce Springsteen did it with “Born To Run,” Prince with “Purple Rain,” Queen with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Elton John with “Tiny Dancer,” and the list goes on for all the great ones. For Neil Diamond, it was his masterpiece of a song, “If You Know What I Mean.”

This beautiful song, “If You Know What I Mean,” was released on his greatest album, Beautiful Noise. The album was released in 1976. Something about the mid-1970s fueled some of the most outstanding artistic achievements of many legendary film and music artists. The reasons behind that are too deep to go into in this article. However, it should not be lost that Neil Diamond’s most extraordinary musical moment, in our opinion, occurred in the mid-1970s.

Neil Diamond’s “If You Know What I Mean” is a composition of flawless beauty. The song’s grandiose lyrics are wrapped in a melody that presents listeners with a cinematic story that quickly embraces you on the first listen. Neil Diamond’s ability to write a strong verse that leads into an even more dynamic chorus shines greater on “If You Know What I Mean” than on any other song he has ever written.

More Great Neil Diamond Songs That We Love

We know there are so many great Neil Diamond songs that did not make this list that deserve to be mentioned. So here are the ones that we wish we could have included. These Neil Diamond songs are listed in chronological order.

Kentucky Woman (1967)

Red Red Wine  (1968)

Shilo (1968)

Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show (1969)

Holly Holy (1969)

And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind (1970)

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (cover song) (1970)

I Am…I Said (1971)

Song Sung Blue (1972)

Longfellow Serenade (1974)

Beautiful Noise (1976)

Desiree (1977)

Love On The Rocks (1980)

America (1981)

Heartlight (1982)

Headed for the Future (1986)

Tennessee Moon (1996)

If I Don’t See You Again (2008)

Something Blue (2014)

Our 10 Favorite Neil Diamond Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024


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