I Am... I Said
|"I Am... I Said"|
|Single by Neil Diamond|
|B-side||"Done Too Soon"|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Neil Diamond singles chronology|
"I Am... I Said" is a song written and recorded by Neil Diamond. Released as a single in March 1971, it was quite successful, at first slowly climbing the charts, then more quickly rising to number 4 on the U.S. pop singles chart by May 1971. It fared similarly across the Atlantic, reaching number 4 on the UK pop singles chart as well.
"I Am... I Said" took Diamond four months to compose. One of his most intensely personal efforts, it depicts the singer lost between two worlds:
- Well, I'm New York City born and raised
- But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
- L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home —
- New York's home but it ain't mine no more...
Verses start quietly in a low vocal range, half sung and half spoken, with a soft rock guitar and light strings backing. By the chorus climaxes, the vocals are much louder and higher in pitch, with horns, heavier drums and more strings joining in, but the singer even more uncertain:
- I am, I cried!
- I am, said I.
- And I am lost, and I can't even say why...
"I Am... I Said" was later included on Diamond's November 1971 album Stones. The single version leads off the LP, while a reprise of the song, taken from midway to a variant ending with Diamond exclaiming "I am!", concludes.
Critical opinion on "I Am... I Said" has generally been good, with Rolling Stone calling its lyric excellent in a 1972 review, while The New Yorker used it to exemplify Diamond's songwriting opaqueness in a 2006 retrospective. A 2008 Diamond profile in The Daily Telegraph simply referred to the song's "raging existential angst," and Allmusic calls it "an impassioned statement of emotional turmoil... very much in tune with the confessional singer/songwriter movement of the time."
"I Am... I Said" has been included in live versions on Diamond's Hot August Night (from 1972, in a performance that Rolling Stone would later label "fantastically overwrought") and The Greatest Hits: 1966-1992 (from 1992), as well as in various compilations.
Brooke White performed the song on American Idol's seventh season during its Neil Diamond week, changing the lyric to replace New York City with her home state of Arizona. Among the foreign versions are the Italian language "La casa degli angeli" ("House of the angels"), performed by Caterina Caselli in 1971. and by Dutchman Jan Rot on his 2008 album Hallelujah as "Zeg God... zeg ik", taking the title as someone who curses, while the Jewish word for God means 'I am'. The Brazilian singer Diana recorded the song as "Porque Brigamos" (Why we argue) in 1972, with lyrics written by the composer and producer Rossini Pinto. The band Killdozer also covered the song on their 1987 album Little Baby Buntin'.
- William Ruhlmann. "Neil Diamond: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Whitburn, Joel (1983). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: 1955 to present. Billboard Publications. p. 88. ISBN 0-8230-7511-7.
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- Gambaccini, Paul (1972-01-20). "Neil Diamond: Stones". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (2006-01-16). "Hello, Again". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- McCormick, Neil (2008-03-05). "Neil Diamond: the hurt, the dirt, the shirts". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Epstein, Dan (2005-11-03). "Neil Diamonds' Jewels". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- Weiss, Joanna (2008-04-29). "'Idol:' Loose Diamonds". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Grignano, Augusta. "Caterina Caselli" (in Italian). IT: La voce delle donne. Retrieved 2008-05-16.