A Solitary Man

I confess, I grew up enjoying Neil Diamond’s music. I even had some albums, and of course enjoyed I’m a Believer and other songs he wrote for the Monkees. In my adulthood he’s not someone I seek out, say, on Pandora, but the other day on an impulse I pulled up an ancient concert performance on YouTube and was impressed by the song A Solitary Man.

I like it. It’s lightly written, not sappy, not as pretentious as some of his other songs or performances. I have it on my YouTube channel among the songs I want to sing someday.

I’m not the only one who likes it. Johnny Cash thought enough of it to include it among his American series, and ended up winning a Best Vocal Performance award for it.

Here are the lyrics:
Melinda was mine ’til the time that I found her
Holdin’ Jim
And lovin’ him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that’s what I thought
But me and Sue,
That died, too.
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
I’ve had it to here being where love’s a small word
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it’s been done havin’ one girl who loves you
Right or wrong
Weak or strong
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man


19 thoughts on “A Solitary Man

  1. i loved Neil’s version, but i could do without the trombones, that’s what kind of lessened the impact for me. but of course, i’m listening to it today – it must have been epic for someone that listened to it back then. the lyrics are amazing.

    • The trombones do give it that Burt Bacharach feel, don’t they? Very mid-1960s. But the song holds up anyway.

      One of the Monkees’ most horrible songs (Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow) was written by Neil. I wonder what he thinks of it now. He and Carole King and several other famous singers were part of a stable of songwriters in the Brill Building, and would crank stuff out all day long in tiny little spaces. If they produced hits, they got promoted to an office.

  2. ordinarybutloud says:

    I once performed a choreographed roller skating routine with my cousins to Neil Diamond’s “America.” No, really.

  3. Neil Diamond is one of my dad’s favorite so I’ve heard his songs ad nauseum 😛 I like him a lot, in that way ones like the music you used to hear on road trips and summer evenings during childhood.

    Now I have to go hear Abba and Pinpinela 😛

    • I got into Abba in high school and had a couple of their albums. Once I met a derelict in the Chicago bus station who claimed he had written all their songs on a trip to Sweden. I asked about the Swedish version of Waterloo and he said he had stolen a Swedish-English dictionary. He had an answer for everything.

  4. Oh, no, now you did it! It’s in my head!
    I like his music, too. that’s a CD I’ll have to get. I wonder how many of today’s songwriters are cranking out hits like they did back then?

  5. I love the song Solitary Man done by Neil!
    I like “I am I said”, too. Okay…I like many of his songs.
    I had a boyfriend in high school who was an amazing singer…he always sang “Sweet Caroline” for me…my family called me “Caroline” a lot.
    Interestingly, my oldest kid…he loves Johnny Cash’s music. But, he makes fun of me that I like Neil Diamond! 😀
    I think YOU should sing the song!!!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  6. g. says:

    Ah, this is a great song. My mom was a Neil Diamond fan and I grew up listening to his music. And I have a soft spot for these arrangements, too. I think there is optimism in the orchestration that complements melancholy lyrics. Does that make sense? You know, nothing’s ever all happy or all sad. That’s life.
    Plus, it’s Neil. How can you resist that guy?

    • I hadn’t thought about it but providing an upbeat melody with sad lyrics does imply hope. When I was in the depths of despair 12 years ago I listened to the song Graceland over and over. Very sad song, but the bouncy melody and the line “I have reason to believe we shall be received in Graceland” were hopeful touches.

    • They are the same generation. Neil wrote tons of songs for other people as well as the ones he sang himself. I liked him a lot more when I was younger. It surprised me to like this song so much.

      Then again, there’s a few John Denver songs I enjoy every now and then.

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