I have a deep, abiding love for a good cover song. I’ve hardly met a cover song I didn’t like. Except the Flying Lizards’ cover of Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” which was also covered much less terribly by the Beatles. But the Flying Lizards did end up winning me over a bit when the song was featured in the movie Empire Records. Man, that movie was the showcase of everything about the 90s that I loved and wanted to so be a part of, but I was a tad too young: the short skirts and boots, moody alternative music, and cute boys with long hair.
But back to the cover songs.
I have a soft spot for Neil Diamond. I grew up listening to his music, as my mom is a huge fan. In those days I just thought he was a fluffy haired, caterpillar-browed, sparkly shirted music man to the old folks. Now it’s one of the legacies I pull from my childhood, a source of comfort and nostalgia. One of those things that we realize as adults that we really did love, no matter how much we made fun of it at the time. If only a photo existed of him without the Farrah Fawcett ‘do and the sparkly, open collared shirt…
Now whenever I hear one of his songs, I belt it out like I’m his #1 fan. Because somehow I know all the words. I’m well aware that my kids will soon think of my favorites as Old People’s Music too, but I only hope that someday they grow to appreciate it for the music that it is, like I have my friend Neil. Still, I’m readying my cane and my “you kids don’t know what good music is!” lecture as we speak. Possibly related: I am getting old.
I heard this cover of “Solitary Man”by Johnny Cash on the radio today and thought it was fantastic. Yes, I realize it’s like 12 years old. I never claimed to be the first to hear about things.
And then it was down the rabbit hole of Neil Diamond cover songs on YouTube. Hours, I tell you. Here are my favorites.
Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon, Urge Overkill
Pulp Fiction. This might be one of my most favorite Neil Diamond covers EVER.
Sweet Caroline, Waylon Jennings
You can’t talk about Neil Diamond covers without throwing in Sweet Caroline. The most popular covers seem to be from Sinatra and Elvis, but this one’s more my style. I only like Big Band in my Christmas tunes.
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, Barbara Streisand
I’m not a huge Babs fan, but this song is seriously gorgeous. She and Neil also did a duet that I remember fondly from my childhood.
I’m a Believer, The Monkees
Didn’t know this was a cover? Me either, for the longest time. The Monkees are another one of my favorite childhood memories. I watched the show every day after school on Nickelodeon, and had a mad crush on Davy Jones. Now I think I may be more of a Peter Tork girl.
Forever in Blue Jeans, Will Ferrell?
Of course there could never be a cover of Forever in Blue Jeans that beats this one. Because really? David Hasselhoff is the only other person who’s covered it? Someone else get on that, stat.
I didn’t find any good covers of some Neil classics like “Song Sung Blue” and “America.” Because like with most things, nothing beats the original. No one sings a Neil Diamond song like Neil Diamond. I’d have a hard time not snatching up tickets if he came to town.
Neil, you still got it. Also, you’re better with short hair.