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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

SWEET CAROLINE: International Sports Anthem

I was watching the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker heavyweight pre-fight ceremonies, emanating from Cardiff, Wales, and on comes Sweet Caroline.  The crowd goes wild and chimes-in at all the right places.  I was stunned.  They did a fabulous job.  But why?

Neil Diamond wrote and first sung this song in 1969, almost half a century ago.  It only peaked at #4 on Billboard, but has returned and returned and returned.

While Diamond in 2007 said that he had written the song for Caroline Kennedy after seeing her at the age of 9 or 11 on the cover of Life, in 2014 the truth came out that is was for his then wife Marcia, but inserted Caroline for better rhyming.

What was unexpected was Sweet Caroline becoming a fixture at sporting events in the USA, UK and Australia.  In particular, the crowd sings along and becomes noisy with "Bap Bap Bah," or something similar, and after he sings "Good times never seemed so good," on comes "So good, so good, so good."  This pattern is repeated.

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But why?  Well, it's easy to sing and can bring the fans together.  Somehow, it works, and probably all started with a Boston Red Sox baseball game twenty years ago.  Then in 2003, they began playing it in the middle of the eight inning.  So did the New York Mets from 2007, but I've not seen one of their home games for some time.  The New York Yankees tried the song on opening day in 2009, but blew a late lead to the Red Sox.  Two days later, the Yankees were embarrassed by the Cleveland Indians 22-4, the most runs ever given up by that team.  You'll never again hear this song again at Yankee Stadium.

Universities across the country have picked up this anthem, adding their flavor.  At the University Pittsburgh, fans replace the BBB with Let's Go Pitt, and SGSGSG with Go Pitt Go Pitt Go Pitt.  The NFL Carolina Panthers play it after every victory, while the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers use it at the beginning of halftime.

Here is one Top Ten of sports anthems in the USA.  We Will Rock You by Queen is #1.  No Sweet Caroline.  Clearly, WatchMojo is out of touch with the truth.  Here are 20 Best Stadium Anthems of All Time, which includes Sweet Caroline and Take Me Out to the Ballgame (that seventh-inning stretch of baseball).  

But it is at sporting events around the world that is most mystifying:

Here is Neil Diamond performing Sweet Caroline in 1969. Sweet Caroline at Times Square, welcoming 2018.  

You must click on that clip, for that is the last time you'll hear Neil Diamond live, for soon thereafter, he announced that he has Parkinson's and has retired from touring.  But his ride has been SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD.  I'm four months older than him.

Incidentally, the sky did fall, but a day late.  Tiangong 1, China's first space station, around six tons, the size of a bus, fell to Earth yesterday in the South Pacific.  A bit earlier and it could just as well have landed over Kuala Lumpur.  However, Zhu Zongpeng said there was false media over this return, and that they were always in control, with the remnants placed in the acknowledged Space Cemetery.

In 1979 NASA lost contact with Skylab (America's first space station), which spread wreckage near Perth, Australia, and was fined $400 by the Shire of Esperance (town closest to fall) Council for littering.

You can visit the remains of Skylab in a museum located in Esperance, Australia, a town of 10,000 or so.  Oh, NASA never paid that fine.

China has a 60-ton space laboratory, Tiangong 2, which is already operating and will become fully functional in 2022.  No plans to play Sweet Caroline.

If you're wondering why China is bothering to spend so much money, the U.S. Congress barred China from participating in the 420-ton International Space Station, which will also crash within the next decade.  China will bring back Mars samples in a decade and soft-land on the far side of the moon in June.

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