Play Me

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"Play Me"
Play Me cover.jpg
Single by Neil Diamond
from the album Moods
B-side"Porcupine Pie"
ReleasedAugust 1972[1]
LabelUni 55346[2]
Songwriter(s)Neil Diamond
Producer(s)Tom Catalano
Neil Diamond singles chronology
"Song Sung Blue"
"Play Me"
"Walk On Water"

"Play Me" is a 1972 song by Neil Diamond from his album Moods. The song, the first single from Moods,[3] was recorded in February 1972 in Los Angeles.[4] It was released as a single in May 1972 and peaked at #11 in the United States[1] in September of that year.[5] It was listed by Billboard as #27 of his best 30 songs.[6]

The "catchy pop-rock"[7] song is a medium-tempo waltz performed in 3/4 time at a standard tempo of 102 bpm.[8]Play Me features broken chords played on the acoustic guitar, courtesy of Diamond's long-time collaborator Richard Bennett.[8] While Bennett had played on a few songs on Diamond's 1971 album Stones, Moods was his first full collaboration with him, establishing Bennett as one of Diamond's essential players, playing on every Diamond album until 1987 and touring with him for 17 years.[9]


Female praise[edit]

"Play Me" is an audience favorite, especially, it seems, among women, who carry signs that read "Neil, Play Me" to his performances[10] and scream "me, me, me" when he plays the tune, described as "an entreaty to romance".[11] Along with "Love on the Rocks" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", it is one of the "baritone ballads" that have "60-year-old women erupting in girlish screams";[12] it makes female audience members shriek[13] and swoon.[14] According to Melissa Ruggieri, writing for Media General about a 2008 concert, "Diamond [at age 67] also still possesses the ability to charm, even though he didn't need to do much except wiggle his prominent eyebrows at women in the crowd to elicit schoolgirl-like squeals—'Play Me,' in particular, had a bizarre aphrodisiac effect."[15]

Singer/songwriter Mary Lee Kortes, while performing it in 2000 in New York, suggested that she had lost her virginity to the song.[16] Nancy Sinatra said, "'Play Me' is my favorite [Neil Diamond] song, because it is sexy."[17]

Critical acclaim[edit]

It is widely praised by critics and musicians as well; it is among the top-ten favorite songs of American writer and critic David Wild. Wild was especially fond of the lines "You are the sun, I am the moon, / You are the words, I am the tune, / Play me,"[8] and other writers have cited the lines as well.[18] Diamond himself has referred to those lines, for instance in an apology to a 2008 Columbus, Ohio, audience, for performing with a raspy voice while suffering from acute laryngitis.[19] Billboard described it as a "potent cut."[20] Cash Box described it as "a ballad about he, she and the music," and considered it to be "delicious."[21]

Lyrical criticism[edit]

The song also has its detractors, and "Play Me" is not the only Diamond song criticized by some for its lyrics. Janice Kennedy said the song was "an exercise in fingernail-on-blackboard painfulness: 'Song she sang to me, song she brang to me.'"[22] American humorist Dave Barry also cited those lines, claiming that they made him like the song.[23] Martin Pearson also criticised that line, commenting "Ugh! It's "brought", you horrible little American!"

Academic Criticism[edit]

This song has also created significant debates in academic circles regarding the development of language and meaning within language, especially within the context of popular American songwriting. "If "moose" pluralizes to "moose", but "goose" pluralizes to "geese", then why can't the word "brang" be used as the past participle of "bring" instead of "brought"?. Who says that "brought" is sacrosanct in that case?" argued singer-songwriter David Persons at a symposium on songwriting and creative writing held at Stephen F. Austin University.[24] "There really are no rules in the practical sense in creative uses of English, and I am always thankful that I am a native English speaker, as it has so many irregularities and non-rules that it must be near impossible to learn as a second language. New words develop from new meanings and linguistic demands, and Neil Diamond's writing has made several significant contributions to that development throughout his career as he has added his own personal mark of genius to The Great American Songbook. In this case the rule has to be "Neil Diamond wrote it, I heard it and that settles it, Brang is in fact a word."[24]

Chart history[edit]

Notable covers[edit]


  1. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (9 December 2006). "Neil Diamond's Top Singles". Billboard. p. 57. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Top 40 Easy Listening". Billboard. 26 August 1972. p. 36. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  3. ^ Jackson, Laura (2005). Neil Diamond: His Life, His Music, His Passion. ECW Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-55022-707-9. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Talent in Action". Billboard. 19 February 1972. p. 16. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  5. ^ Lonergan, David F. (2005). Hit records, 1950–1975. Scarecrow Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-8108-5129-0. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  6. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). Billboard's hottest hot 100 hits (3 ed.). Watson-Guptill. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-8230-7738-0. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul (3 ed.). Hal Leonard. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d Wild, David (2009). He Is . . . I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond. Seal Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-0-306-81835-6. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  9. ^ Childs, Zac (3 May 2007). "Features— Artists: Richard Bennett". Vintage Guitar. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  10. ^ Wiskirchen, Julie (27 July 2001). "Neil Diamond – Today Show Concert". Ape Culture. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Neil Diamond may not be hip, but he makes great music". Star Tribune. 13 July 1996. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  12. ^ Rayner, Ben (3 December 2008). "Neil Diamond shines bright at ACC show". Toronto Star. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  13. ^ Padman, Padmaja (27 July 1992). "There's No Doubt That Diamond Is Forever". New Straits Times. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Diamond in the Round". Wichita Eagle. 18 November 1996. pp. 9A.
  15. ^ Ruggieri, Melissa (9 December 2008). "Older, toned-down Diamond let his songs sparkle". Media General. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  16. ^ Powers, Ann (13 December 2000). "Pop Review: A Tribute by So Many to Interpret a Solitary Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  17. ^ Block, Debbie Galante (9 December 2006). "Playing Favorites". Billboard. pp. 38ff. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  18. ^ Johnson, Caitlin (29 April 2008). "After 40 Years, Neil Diamond Is Still Shining". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Neil Diamond offers concert audience a refund". Reuters. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Radio Action and Pick Singles" (PDF). Billboard. August 19, 1972. p. 50. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  21. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. July 29, 1972. p. 22. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  22. ^ Kennedy, Janice (13 April 2010). "The iPhone's assault on the English language". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 1 May 2010.[dead link]
  23. ^ Barry, Dave (2000). Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7407-0600-4. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  24. ^ a b Dr. Lee Shultz Creative Writing Series. March 1989. David Persons: Writing Songs From Creative Writing Models.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1972-10-07. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  27. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  28. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, October 7, 1972". Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  29. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  30. ^ "Programmer's Potpourri". Billboard. March 31, 1973.
  31. ^ Bessman, Jim (9 December 2006). "Mining Diamond's Catalog". Billboard. pp. 58–65. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  32. ^ Donahue, Ann (7 February 2009). "Stars Salute Neil Diamond At MusiCares Event". Billboard. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  33. ^ Boehm, Kristin; Marisa Laudadio (7 February 2009). "Inside the All-Star MusiCares Tribute to Neil Diamond". People. Retrieved 3 May 2010.