Johnny Cash – Solitary Man


[Verse 1]
Belinda was mine until the time that I found her
Holdin’ Jim
And loving him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that’s what I thought
Me and Sue
But that died, too

Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man

[Verse 2]
I’ve had it to here – being where love’s a small word
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it’s been done having one girl who loved me
Right or wrong
Weak or strong

Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man

Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man


“Solitary Man” was written by American musician Neil Diamond, who recorded the song for Bang Records in February 1966. It has since been covered many times by such artists as Billy Joe Royal, B.J. Thomas, Jay and the Americans, T. G. Sheppard, Gianni Morandi, The Sidewinders, Chris Isaak, Johnny Cash, Johnny Rivers, HIM, Crooked Fingers, Cliff Richard, Ólöf Arnalds, Theuns Jordaan and Farhad Mehrad.


Recorded in February 1966 and initially released on Bang Records in April 1966, “Solitary Man” was Diamond’s debut single as a recording artist, having already had moderate–but accidental–success as a songwriter for other artists; their versions of the songs he had already written and composed were released before his own versions of them were.[1] By July, the track had become a minor hit rising to #55 on the U.S. pop singles chart.[1] It would then be included on Diamond’s first album, The Feel of Neil Diamond, released in August 1966.[1]

While nominally about young romantic failure, lines in the lyrics that read:

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am–
A solitary man…
Solitary man.

have been closely identified with Diamond himself, as evinced by a 2008 profile in The Daily Telegraph: “This is the Solitary Man depicted on his first hit in 1966: the literate, thoughtful and melodically adventurous composer of songs that cover a vast array of moods and emotions…”[3] Indeed, Diamond himself would tell interviewers in the 2000s, “After four years of Freudian analysis, I realized I had written ‘Solitary Man’ about myself.”[4]

“Solitary Man’s” dynamic melody, matched with the melancholic universality of its lyrics, would make the song an attractive target for later interpretations.

After Diamond had renewed commercial success with Uni Records at the end of the decade, Bang Records re-released “Solitary Man” as a single and it reached #21 on the U.S. pop charts in summer 1970.[5] It also reached #6 on the Easy Listening chart.[6]

Diamond originally recorded two versions of the song, as he later did with “Cherry, Cherry.” One version had his harmonic vocal track on the refrain of the song, along with accompaniment by a wordless female chorus. The other version was him singing the song alone, without his prerecorded harmony or the female chorus.

On such live albums as Gold: Recorded Live at the Troubadour, Hot August Night and some subsequent recordings, Diamond altered the lyrics to “then you came along” from the original “then Sue came along.” Many critics consider “Solitary Man” to be arguably Neil Diamond’s signature tune.

In a 2005 Rolling Stone retrospective, Dan Epstein wrote, “‘Solitary Man’ remains the most brilliantly efficient song in the Diamond collection. There’s not a wasted word or chord in this two-and-a-half minute anthem of heartbreak and self-affirmation, which introduced the melancholy loner persona that he’s repeatedly returned to throughout his career.”[7]

Chart history

Notable cover versions

T. G. Sheppard version

In 1976, T. G. Sheppard released a cover version for Hitsville Records. It went to #14 on the U.S. country music chart (Hot Country Songs) and #100 on the Hot 100. The song charted best on the Canadian country chart (#11). It was also a hit on the Easy Listening charts of both nations.

Gianni Morandi’s cover

In 1966, famous Italian singer Gianni Morandi recorded a cover version titled “Se perdo anche te” (“If I lose you too”). The author of the Italian lyrics was Franco Migliacci, who was Morandi’s producer at that time and who, eight years before, had written the lyrics to Domenico Modugno‘s international hit “Nel blu, dipinto di blu (Volare).”
This song was arranged by Ennio Morricone, who at that time conducted many tunes published by the Italian RCA Victor, and was the B-Side of “C’era un ragazzo che come me amava i Beatles e i Rolling Stones” (“There was a boy who, like me, loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones”), a song against the Vietnam War.

The Sidewinders’s cover

The Tucson, Arizona alternative rock band The Sidewinders added a version of the song as the fifth track on their 1989 hit album Witchdoctor.[14]

Chris Isaak’s cover

Chris Isaak covered “Solitary Man” as the last track of his 1993 album San Francisco Days. The music video for the song was directed by Larry Clark.

Johnny Cash’s cover

Johnny Cash used “Solitary Man” for the title track of his 3rd album under the American Recordings label: American III: Solitary Man in 2000. The recording received a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. His recording of the song was used in the penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis, “Vegas” and in the 17th episode of the fifth season of Criminal Minds. In Stargate Atlantis, the song was used twice during the same episode: the first time had the character listening to it on the radio as he drove with a montage going and the second was shortly before the credits when the man apparently died. The recording was also used for the opening credits of the 2010 film Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas.

HIM’s cover

In 2004, the Finnish band HIM covered “Solitary Man” for their first compilation album, And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004. It was released as a single, and Bam Margera produced a music video created for it.

Track listing

Finnish and European version
  1. “Solitary Man” – 3:38
  2. “Please Don’t Let It Go” (Live) – 3:14
  3. Join Me in Death” (Live) – 4:59
  4. “Website extras included as Enhanced CD content”
UK version

DVD single

  1. “Solitary Man” (Video) – 3:36
  2. Right Here in My Arms” (video) – 3:30
  3. Bam Margera’s making of Buried Alive By Love” – 1:58
  4. Pandora’s slideshow – 4:00
  5. Your Sweet 666” (Audio-Live 2003) – 4:40

CD single

  1. “Solitary Man”
  2. “Please Don’t Let it Go” (punk rock version – live 2003)

7″ vinyl

  1. “Solitary Man”
  2. (Etched B-side contains no music)

Chart history

Chart (2006) Peak
Finland Singles 2
UK Singles Chart7Y6* 9
Germany Singles 17
Switzerland Singles 40
Austria Singles 45

Crooked Fingers Cover

The band Crooked Fingers covered “Solitary Man” on their 5 track EP of cover songs, the Reservoir Songs EP.

Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard recorded “Solitary Man” for his 1966 EP La La La La La.

Skin Flesh & Bones

Skin Flesh & Bones recorded a reggae cover of it on their 1974 7″ release.[15]

Tony Carey

Tony Carey covered Solitary Man on his album Only the Young Die Good[16] and on the album The Boystown Tapes[17]

Jussi Syren And The Groundbreakers

Jussi Syren And The Groundbreakers [18] recorded a bluegrass version on their album Heartagrass – An Acoustic Tribute To HIM,[19] a tribute to fellow Finnish performers HIM

(Visited 80 times, 1 visits today)

You might be interested in

Post A Comment For The Creator: redrover61

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *