Shilo (song)

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Shilo cover.jpg
Single by Neil Diamond
from the album Just for You
B-side "La Bamba"
Released 1970
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 3:27
Label Bang Records
Songwriter(s) Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond singles chronology
"Holly Holy"
"Until It's Time for You to Go"
"Holly Holy"
"Until It's Time for You to Go"

"Shilo" is a song written and recorded by Neil Diamond. It was originally recorded in 1967 for Bang Records, but Diamond and Bang founder Bert Berns disagreed over Diamond's career path.[2] The singer wanted to move away from his early teen-oriented pop type of recordings that Berns favored, which led to Berns' refusal to release the more introspective "Shilo" as a single,[3] even though Diamond felt it was part of his development as an artist. "Shilo" was instead relegated to an album track on 1967's Just for You.[3] Shortly after what was said to be a "tense" confrontation with Berns, Diamond departed Bang for Uni Records in 1968.

Diamond went into a commercial slump, without hits, but by January 1970, his career had rebounded with "Sweet Caroline" and "Holly Holy" on Uni/MCA Records. Bang Records finally released "Shilo" as a single, albeit with a new backing track recorded to make it sound fresher and more like Diamond's current style.[3] This reached number 24 on the U.S. pop singles chart in spring 1970,[4] inspiring Bang to release a new Neil Diamond compilation album that year titled Shilo.

Following this, Diamond reissued his 1968 debut album with Uni, Velvet Gloves and Spit, in October 1970, to incorporate a completely new recording of "Shilo".[3] "Shilo" is about a childhood imaginary friend:[2]

Shilo, when I was young —
I used to call your name
When no one else would come,
Shilo, you always came
And we'd play ...

The song was Diamond's most autobiographical to date, making reference to his lonely childhood amongst turmoil.[2] Diamond's emotional investment in the song contributed to his and Berns's coming into intense conflict.[2] Decades later, Rolling Stone would compare the song's stance to the emo style.[5]

Though not one of Diamond's biggest hits, "Shilo" has become one of his best-known songs, and is a staple of his concert appearances. It was included on the Diamond's 1972 Hot August Night live album as well as all almost all of his compilation albums.

Uses in popular culture[edit]

It appears in the 2013 film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Shilo Dortmund, the protagonist in Andre Norton & Jean Rabe's fantasy novel Dragon Mage, was named after the song by her Neil Diamond fan parents.


  1. ^ "Explore: Soft Rock | Top Songs | AllMusic". 2011-11-12. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jackson, Laura (2005). Neil Diamond: His Life, His Music, His Passion. ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-707-6.  p. 50.
  3. ^ a b c d William Ruhlmann. "Neil Diamond: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1983). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: 1955 to present. Billboard Publications. ISBN 0-8230-7511-7.  p. 88.
  5. ^ Dan Epstein (2005-11-03). "Neil Diamonds' Jewels". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-08.