Good times never seem so good (so good, so good) as when Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit “Sweet Caroline” is being sung by a huge crowd. The carefree singable track debuted in May 1969, becoming the ultimate summer hit, spending 14 weeks on the charts, .

Since then, it’s been covered by notable artists like , and — and become the unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox. “It somehow had a connection to the spiritual nature of people’s lives,” Diamond told in a 2020 interview for the . “Maybe it’s the joy of singing it too… Chills, thrills, sing it from the hills!”

until Diamond revealed the inspiration in 2007: a childhood photo of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

And the two didn’t even know each other. The unlikely inspiration came from a photo of Kennedy when she was about seven years old — even though Diamond was 17 years her senior.

. “When it came out of me in that humble little room, I was as surprised as the next guy.”

雷电竞娱乐Diamond knew he was onto something right away: “The minute it did come out of me, I knew it was special and had some other special meaning other than potential commercial success. Most songs take planning and thought. ‘Sweet Caroline’ has none of those elements in its creation.”

And the song pretty much spilled onto the page. “The whole thing took about a half-hour,” on the Today雷电竞娱乐 show in 2014. “When I wrote the song, I thought, ‘This is some kind of magic that happened.’”

He was taken by a photo of Kennedy in her riding gear

雷电竞娱乐The most challenging part of the song was finding the right name to dedicate the simple love song too. At the time, he was married to Marcia Murphey, and had promised her a song. But he just couldn’t get her name to fit the melody.

. “It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony,” Diamond said. “It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.”

While it remained in the back of his head, the name finally found its lyrical match about five years later in that Memphis hotel room. “I tried ‘Sweet Caroline’ — that works,” he recalled on Today. “It didn't work with Marcia, so I couldn’t tell her that I dedicated the song to her. It was almost Marcia…[but] there was no way to squeeze it in.”

雷电竞娱乐So the song came out in 1969 — bearing the name of the former first daughter who was 12 at the time — except that no one knew that for decades.

John F Kennedy stands outdoors with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, as their daughter, Caroline, sits atop a pony and their son, John Jr., holds his arms out.

雷电竞娱乐John F Kennedy stands outdoors with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as their daughter, Caroline, sits atop a pony and their son, John Jr., holds his arms out.

Kennedy was 'really happy' to learn the song was inspired by her

雷电竞娱乐When the song became popular at Boston Red Sox games, some — after all, her family had such a legacy in Massachusetts and it was the closest baseball team. (Actually, Amy Tobey, , chose to play the track at games.) Others thought there was some tie between the last name “Diamond” and the baseball diamond, but the singer is Brooklyn-born and , so that didn’t hold up either.

. "I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday."

雷电竞娱乐He finally did when he performed for her 50th birthday via satellite. “I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy,” he said of the big reveal. “I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline.”

Diamond calls the "Sweet Caroline" the 'most important song of my career'

The song has continued to have a powerful hold on audiences — and also found significance during troubling times. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Diamond hopped on flight as soon as he heard the Red Sox would be playing. He went to Fenway Park, not giving anyone a heads up.

, One Fund Boston. “It was just a natural reflex in a time of need,” he said. “It was obvious when I got there and met First Responders and some victims and family members that there was still a great need for help.”

The Kennedy-inspired song continues to work its power during the coronavirus pandemic, as , “Hands, washing hands/Don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.”

“The ‘Hands Washing Hands’ Sweet Caroline video was another spontaneous inspiration,” he told the Red Sox’s site. “The new lyrics lent themselves perfectly to the current situation and I hoped it would bring a little levity in such an uncertain time...It was gratifying to see how the song touched people in this time of social distancing and isolation. Hopefully, the magic of ‘Sweet Caroline’ will live on. I, for one, will never bet against that song.”

He’s always kept that promise — and also remained grateful to Kennedy for unknowingly sparking his most popular song. “It was a No. 1 record and probably is the biggest, most important song of my career,” he . “And I have to thank her for the inspiration.”