Listen Again: Neil Diamond’s “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon”

2003 was a big year for me. It was the year I turned ten, and it was also the year Clay Aiken’s “Invisible” was released. Oddly enough, the release of Clay Aiken’s first (and last?) song marked the beginning of a new era for me: an era in which I understood that songs aren’t happy and men are terrible. Chubby preteen me had just entered the world of double digits and I felt like I was bitch-slapped in the face by Aiken’s terrifying chorus, “If I was invisible / I could just watch you in your room”.

Although Clay Aiken ruined my innocence, I began to notice other songs I enjoyed bopping along to that perhaps weren’t as innocent as they seem — which brings me, of course, to Grammy-award winner Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond has been cranking out Dad Anthems for nearly 60 years so I know what you’re thinking: “Brittany, how could you possibly only pick onecreepy Neil Diamond song?”

Diamond has some notoriously weird songs. I’m pretty sure “Cracklin’ Rosie” is actually about paying a woman for sex and I hate to break it to you, but “Sweet Caroline” is definitely a love ballad for 9-year-old Caroline Kennedy.

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I don’t have time to find cryptic, pervy messages in every song from each of his thirty-something studio albums. It’s not fair to me to have to write it and it’s not fair to Neil Diamond, who I’m sure isn’t actively trying to be creepy in every little diddy he pops out.

Everything is up for interpretation, of course, but if you’re not convinced that Neil Diamond has a bit of a “your roommate’s weird uncle” vibe, then sorry — this song definitely doesn’t help your cause.

Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon

Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” was released in 1967, and one may assume the song is simply the jotted down thoughts of a boy on the cusp of adulthood himself. But Neil was twenty-six years old at the time this song came out. Twenty-six.

If the title alone isn’t enough to send a haunting chill down your spine, then let me explain: Diamond has admitted the song was inspired by the many teenage girls who attended his shows during the early days of his career. So sure, that explains the “Girl” part, but what about the rest of the song?

The lyrics “You’ll be a woman soon” implies Diamond is speaking to a pre-pubescent girl who will soon receive her “womanhood”, if you know what I mean. (Virginity; I’m talking about losing her virginity).

So let’s recap this quickly: twenty-six year old Neil Diamond wrote a song for the young girls he oggled and boned backstage at his shows.

But The Worst Part?

The low, slow grumble each time he says the word ‘girl’ might be the most unsettling part of the song. Or perhaps even the too-long pause before completing the phrase with a somewhat ominous ‘soon’.

I might be too caught up with syntax here, so I’ll highlight the lines that are more straightforward with being gross:

Well, I’ve finally found what I’m a-looking for
But if they get their chance they’ll end it for sure
Surely would
Baby, I’ve done all I could

Sorry, I just feel I need to stress the line “But if they get their chance they’ll end it for sure” one more time.

Who are ‘they’? The people who monitor and enforce statutory rape laws?

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“Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” has become one of Diamond’s most well-known hits, having been covered numerous times and of course appearing in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994). The song has maintained its status as both a classic hit and relevant piece of pop culture, despite the clear weirdness in Diamond’s lyrics.

This song is sick, twisted, and at its core a love ballad for teenaged girls. But I’ll be goddamned if it isn’t a great one.