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"Solitary Man" is a 1966 song written and recorded by Neil Diamond, that has been a hit for him and others across five decades.

History

Released in April 1966, "Solitary Man" was Diamond's debut single as a recording artist (he had already had some success as a songwriter for others), put out on Bang Records. By July it had become a minor hit in places, rising to #55 on the U.S. pop singles chart. It would then be included on Diamond's first album, The Feel of Neil Diamond, released in August.

While nominally about young romantic failure, parts of the lyric:

Don't know that I will,
But until, I can find me
...
I'll be, what I am —
A solitary man ...
Solitary man.


have been closely identified with Diamond himself, as evinced by a 2008 profile in The Daily Telegraph: "This is the Solitary Man depicted on his first hit in 1966: the literate, thoughtful and melodically adventurous composer of songs that cover a vast array of moods and emotions ..." Indeed, Diamond himself would bemusedly tell interviewers in the 2000s, "After four years of Freudian analysis I realised I had written 'Solitary Man' about myself."

"Solitary Man"'s dynamic melody matched with this melancholic universality would make the song an attractive target for later interpretations.

After Diamond had renewed commercial success with Uni Records at the end of the decade, Bang Records re-released "Solitary Man" as a single and it reached #21 on the U.S. pop charts in summer 1970.

He recorded two versions of the song. One of them had his harmonic vocal track on the Chorus of the song. The other version was him singing the song alone, without his prerecorded harmony on the track.

A 2005 Rolling Stone retrospective would write, "'Solitary Man' remains the most brilliantly efficient song in the Diamond collection. There's not a wasted word or chord in this two-and-a-half minute anthem of heartbreak and self-affirmation, which introduced the melancholy loner persona that he's repeatedly returned to throughout his career."

Gianni Morandi's cover

In 1966, famous Italian singer Gianni Morandi recorded a cover version titled "Se perdo anche te " ("If I lose you too"). The author of the Italian lyrics was Franco Migliacci, who was Morandi's producer at that time, and eight years before had written the lyrics to Domenico Modugno's international hit "Nel blu, dipinto di blu (Volare)". The lyrics to "Se perdo anche te":"Non piangerò mai sul denaro che spendo: Ne riavrò forse più Ma piango l'amore di un'unica donna Che non ho forse più. Accendilo tu questo sole che è spento! L'amore, lo sai, scioglie i cuori di ghiaccio. Che sarà di me se perdo anche te ? ". ("I will never cry over the money I spend: I will probably get back more. I'm just crying over the love of one woman that I probably don't have anymore. The sun is out, you turn it on! Love, you know, melts hearts of ice. What will happen to me if I lose you too?").This song was arranged by Ennio Morricone, who at that time conducted many tunes published by the Italian RCA Victor, and was the B-Side of "C'era un ragazzo che come me amava i Beatles e i Rolling Stones " ("There was a boy who, like me, loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones"), a song against the Vietnam war.

Chris Isaak's cover

Chris Isaak covered "Solitary Man" as the last track of his 1993 album San Francisco Days. The music video for the song is directed by Larry Clark.

Johnny Cash's cover

Johnny Cash used "Solitary Man" for the title track of his 3rd American Recordings album in 2000. The recording received a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. His recording of the song was used in the penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis; the series' central character, John Sheppard was a big fan of Cash, as is evidenced by his poster of the musician, which appears in several episodes of the series.

HIM's cover

In 2004, the Finnishmarker band HIM covered "Solitary Man" for their first compilation album And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004. It was released as a single and a music video, produced by Bam Margera, was created.

Track listing

Finnish and European version

  1. "Solitary Man"
  2. "Please Don't Let It Go" (live)
  3. "Join Me in Death" (live)
  4. "Website extras included as Enhanced CD content"


UK version

DVD single
  1. "Solitary Man" (video)
  2. "Right Here in My Arms" (video)
  3. Bam Maguera's making of Buried Alive By Love"
  4. Pandora's slideshow
  5. "Your Sweet 666" (Audio-Live 2003)


CD single
  1. "Solitary Man"
  2. "Please Don't Let it Go" (punk rock version - live 2003)


7" vinyl
  1. "Solitary Man"
  2. (Etched B-side contains no music)


Charts positions

Chart position (2006) Peak
position
Finlandmarker Singles 2
UK Singles Chart 9
Germanymarker Singles 17
Switzerlandmarker Singles 40
Austriamarker Singles 45


Crooked Fingers Cover

The band Crooked Fingers covered it on their 5 track EP of cover songs, the Reservoir Songs EP.

References

  1. p. 88.



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