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Oct 12

Neil Diamond Wrote My Hit!, Part 1: The Monkees, “I’m a Believer”

Neil Diamond -- Just for You

Yes, that deep, meaningful gaze is just…for…YOU. And that pretty lady behind him.

Neil Diamond (1967)

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The Monkees (1966)

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Today on Cover Friday, we have Part 1 of a “miniseries” I’ll be doing on Neil Diamond covers throughout the decades. We begin today with the very well-known “I’m a Believer,” made famous by the Monkees, but written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond. This may be a somewhat obvious choice to some of you, but I rarely, if ever, hear Neil’s version played, so I think it’s still worth highlighting.

Now as you may recall from an earlier Reselect post, I’m no Neil Diamond fan on the whole, but I am a big fan of his earliest hits on Bang Records — some of the best pop of the ’60s. And considering the number of people who covered his songs then (not to mention later), clearly there were others at the time who concurred.

The Monkees -- More of the Monkees

AKA “Rubberish Soul”

“I’m a Believer” was actually not written by Diamond for the Monkees, as is often believed — he recorded it himself first. However, the Monkees’ version was released first, as a single, in late 1966, and became a huge success (the top-selling single of 1967, in the midst of the Beatles era!). As a result, Neil’s own version of the song, released in September 1967 on his album, Just for You, was heavily overshadowed. But no biggie for Neil — he still got the songwriting recognition for the Monkees hit, and in many ways it helped push his career into the big time. For better or worse, depending on how you feel about the direction his career took later on…

4 Comments

  1. Zot says:

    I agree about the Bang recordings. My Dad was a big fan of the 1970s Diamond and I had to hear him often much to my chagrin. Then I picked up a Bang comp after I left home and I was shocked at how good it was. I still like the Monkees’ version better though.

    1. And I agree about the Monkees recording — Neil’s version just doesn’t quite match its energy…

  2. Joy says:

    I am a fan of Neil Diamond on the whole, excepting a few things somewhere around the 80’s. As much as I loved his early stuff, I think the last 8 years have been some of his best, especially the Rick Rubin produced albums. My personal favorite: Pretty Amazing Grace

    http://youtu.be/cQKjqGolhdw

    His electric live performances are what inspire a loyal fan base. Last year he was in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa (four cities and four sold-out soccer stadiums) and Europe. This year he toured the United States. I saw him in Atlanta this past June. Great two hours, no opening act, no intermission, highly participatory intergenerational audience. He has amazing energy for a man of 71, this grandfather to seven. Favorite of that show, Holly Holy. Reniscent of this performance:

    http://youtu.be/G5i_eCROFiQ

    As far as I’m a Believer, I liked the Monkees version best of the original recordings. However, I love Diamond’s new ballad version. (Dreams album) It suits him at this stage of his life. Instead of the puppy-love of a teenager, it is the sentimental love of an older, wiser man.

    http://youtu.be/z4PzSSQtnp8

    1. Thanks for the great info, Joy. I really enjoyed his 12 Songs from 2005, but haven’t gotten around to hearing Home Before Dark yet. I’m sure seeing him live would be a one-of-a-kind experience!

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