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Artist: Neil Diamond
Album: Tap Root Manuscript
Writer: Neil Diamond
Oh, I love my Rosie child, She got the way to make me happy, You and me, we go in style.
Cracklin’ Rosie wasn’t Neil Diamond’s first hit, as a writer, that is. He first topped the charts with “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees. However, “Cracklin’ Rosie,” sometimes misspelled as Cracklin’ Rose, was one of the songs, if not the song, that made Neil Diamond a superstar. It reached number one October 10, 1970, spending 15 weeks on the charts. It was also a huge hit in the U.K. This was no mean feat. He had to contend with the legendary Diana Ross and her equally legendary recording of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
This is a Neil Diamond song that younger listeners should hear, as it will show you just why Neil Diamond was such a huge deal. It has a hook that will just kind of make you go, oh…While the song is upbeat, the lyrics seem a bit mysterious to some and are frequently misunderstood. Lyrics like “store-bought woman” and “poor man’s lady” seem to indicate the song is about a woman named Rosie who is, for the least offensive way of putting it, an inexpensive prostitute. However, Cracklin’ Rosie isn’t a woman, it’s a wine.
Many sources indicate, however, that the song is about red wine, with explanations such as “it’s about a man who buys a bottle of red wine and gets drunk after his woman breaks up with him.” This is, as it turns out, not quite correct.
Neil Diamond wrote the song after hearing a story while visiting Canada. A medical missionary told him about a Native Indian tribe in Northern Canada where the men outnumbered the women. This meant that many of the men didn’t have a woman to spend time with come the weekend. The men who did not have women would buy bottles of cheap wine and getting drunk off the wine would become a substitute for female company. The wine they bought was called Cracklin Rosé.
So, ‘store-bought woman’ and ‘poor man’s lady’ were allusions to cheap wine substituting for female companionship. Diamond seems to have combined the initial inspiration with allusions to hobo culture, as indicated by the beginning versus about hitching a train, and of course, the double entendre was no doubt intentional.
This wasn’t Neil Diamond’s only song about red wine. He also wrote Red, Red Wine, which so many people think is a UB40 song from the 1980s.
Watch Neil Diamond Peform Cracklin’ Rosie, 1971
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