The first bite of the top 40 cherry for Neil Diamond arrived in America on 10 September 1966. In the days when he’d been making his name as a songwriter for others, and taking faltering commercial steps as an artist in his own right, ‘Cherry Cherry’ gave him his first appearance in the top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100.
Diamond had first appeared in the Hot 100 a few weeks earlier with ‘Solitary Man,’ which made it as high as No. 55 in its initial 10-week run. In the summer of 1970, with Diamond far better known by then, it reappeared and got to No. 21. But ‘Cherry Cherry,’ written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich in their pacy, strumming mid-1960s style, charted in August ’66 and, this week, rose 54-39 on its way to a No. 6 peak.
Although it wasn’t one of his own songs, Neil clearly retained plenty of fondness for it, performing it on his celebrated 1972 live album Hot August Night. It even became a top 40 US single from that record the following spring. On the original, Greenwich herself sings prominently on the choruses, on a track that’s strongly reminiscent of Barry’s productions for new TV sensations of the era, The Monkees — which is no coincidence, as one of those productions was Diamond’s classic composition ‘I’m A Believer.’
Neil followed ‘Cherry Cherry’ with a string of solid US hits in his own name, including the top 20 entries ‘I Got The Feelin’ (Oh No)’ and ‘You Got To Me.’ They were followed by a No. 10 hit in his home country that international audiences would be much more familiar with on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack a generation later, the brooding and atmospheric ‘Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon.’
‘Cherry Cherry’ is on Neil Diamond 50 – The 50th Anniversary Collection, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Neil Diamond Best Of playlist.