Red Red Wine - Neil Diamond
Apologies that Uncle Stylus has been down for a few days - the money ran out and I forgot to pay the bills!
The most successful writer for the Monkees was Neil Diamond who penned their massive sellers "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You". Diamond was a Brill Building songwriter (along with the likes of Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Burt Bacharach and Hal David) but in 1966 he made it internationally as a songwriter for the Monkees and in America as a solo artist with the wonderful "Solitary Man" and "Cherry Cherry". He didn't make it in the UK until 1970 with "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Sweet Caroline" and for just a moment he was very big with hit singles and albums, but only for just a moment. He was a great performer as his album "Hot August Night" attests, and a terrific songwriter but didn't quite have the charisma to make him the big star that at one point it looked like he might become. But his songs have kept re-appearing in the decades since, classically recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and as in this case, UB40, passing the old 'A' Level of time with flying colours. Often people are surprised to hear that the original was by Diamond, as is the case here, and as also often happens, because of the way it is presented, here as a slower ballad rather than the urban reggae of UB40, the meaning has been changed. Whereas the later version is a depressed lament that is almost as much about the perils of alcohol as the vagaries of love, Diamond's original is about the fear of loneliness, the feeling of desolation and emptiness that only wine can fill. And the result is something exquisite and moving thanks to Diamond's superb vocal, as anguished as toothache and as sad as a lone wolf in a zoo:
Red, red wine go to my head Make me forget that I
still need her so
red, red wine,
it's up to you all I can do I've done but memories won't go,
no memories won't go.
I'd have sworn that with time thoughts of you leave my head I was wrong, and now I find just one thing makes me forget:
red, red wine, stay close to me don't let me be alone it's tearing apart
my blue, blue heart.