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Solitary Man Chords: A Classic Song by Neil Diamond

Man is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond in 1966. It was his first solo hit, reaching number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has been covered by many artists, including Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, HIM, and Crooked Fingers. In this article, we will explore the chords and lyrics of this iconic song, as well as some of its history and meaning.

The Chords

The song is in the key of E minor and uses a simple chord progression of Em-Am-G-Em for the verses and G-C-G-D for the choruses. The song also features a distinctive riff played on the guitar that follows the melody of the vocals. The riff can be played as follows:

[Intro]
 
e|-3---3p0---2-2-0-|-------0-------0-|-------0---------|-------3---0-----|
B|-5-------5-------|-----5-------0---|-0---------0---0-|---------------0-|
G|-----------------|-4-------0h2-----|-0---0-----------|-----------------|
D|-----------------|-----------------|-2-------2---2---|-----2---2---2---|
A|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
 
Em   Em
 
 
[Verse]
Em           Am            G           Em
 Melinda was mine 'til the time that I found her
G        Am
 Holdin' Jim
G       Am
 Lovin' him
 
Em              Am             G                   Em
 Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that's what I thought
G       Am
 Me and Sue,
G           Am
 That died, too.
 
 
[Chorus]
G                  C          G         D
 Don't know that I will but until I can find me
              C             G             D
A girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
               Em    D
I'll be what I am
           Em    D
A solitary man
         Em
Solitary man
 
 
[Verse]
Em              Am          G              Em
 I've had it to here, being where love's a small word
G          Am
 Part time thing
G      Am
 Paper ring
 
Em                Am          G            Em
 I know it's been done havin' one girl who loves you
G         Am
 Right or wrong
G        Am
 Weak or strong
 
 
[Chorus]
G                  C          G         D
 Don't know that I will but until I can find me
              C             G             D
A girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
               Em    D
I'll be what I am
           Em    D
A solitary man
         Em
Solitary man
 
 
[Interlude]
Em   Am   Em   Am
 
 
[Chorus]
G                  C          G         D
 Don't know that I will but until I can find me
              C             G             D
A girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
               Em    D
I'll be what I am
           Em    D
A solitary man
         Em    D
Solitary man
 
 
[Outro]
Em    D          Em    D
        Solitary man
Em    D          Em    D
        Solitary man
 
 
************************************
 
| p  Pull-off
| h  Hammer-on
 
************************************

The chords can be played with a simple strumming pattern of down-up-down-up or with arpeggios. Here is an example of how to play the first verse and chorus:

Em Am G Em Belinda was mine ‘til the time that I found her G Am G Am Holdin’ Jim, and loving him Em Am G Em Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that’s what I thought G Am G Am Me and Sue, but that died too.

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

You can find the full chords and lyrics for the song on various websites, such as Ultimate Guitar or E-Chords.

The History

Neil Diamond wrote Solitary Man when he was still struggling to make a name for himself as a solo artist. He had previously written songs for other singers, such as The Monkees and Jay and the Americans. He was inspired by the music of Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly, and wanted to create a song that expressed his own feelings of loneliness and rejection.

He recorded the song in February 1966 at American Sound Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, with producer Chips Moman and session musicians Tommy Cogbill, Gene Chrisman, Bobby Wood, and Bobby Emmons. The song was released as a single in April 1966 by Bang Records, a label founded by Bert Berns, who had signed Diamond after hearing his demo tape.

The song received positive reviews from critics and listeners, but did not achieve much commercial success at first. It peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 21 on the Adult Contemporary chart. However, it gained more popularity over time, especially after Diamond re-recorded it for his 1970 album Tap Root Manuscript. The song also became a staple of his live performances and a fan favorite.

The song has been covered by many artists over the years, each giving their own interpretation and style to it. Some of the most notable versions are:

  • Johnny Cash: The country legend recorded a stripped-down version of the song for his 2000 album American III: Solitary Man, produced by Rick Rubin. Cash’s deep voice and acoustic guitar gave the song a haunting and melancholic feel. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
  • Chris Isaak: The rockabilly singer recorded a faithful version of the song for his 1996 album Baja Sessions. Isaak’s smooth vocals and guitar echoed Diamond’s original version, but added a touch of surf rock and nostalgia.
  • HIM: The Finnish gothic rock band recorded a dark and heavy version of the song for their 2004 album And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004. The band’s lead singer Ville Valo sang the song with his trademark deep and raspy voice, while the guitars and drums added distortion and power.
  • Crooked Fingers: The indie rock band recorded a folk-inspired version of the song for their 2005 album Dignity and Shame. The band’s lead singer Eric Bachmann sang the song with a soft and gentle voice, while the instruments included banjo, mandolin, and accordion.

The Meaning

The song is a simple but powerful expression of Diamond’s feelings of loneliness and frustration after being betrayed and abandoned by several women in his life. He declares that he will remain a solitary man until he can find a true and faithful love. He does not want to settle for a superficial or temporary relationship, but rather seeks a deep and lasting connection.

The song also reflects Diamond’s artistic vision and ambition. He wanted to create a song that was honest and personal, that spoke to his own emotions and experiences. He did not want to follow the trends or expectations of the music industry, but rather carve his own path and identity. He wanted to be what he was, a solitary man.

Conclusion

Solitary Man is a classic song by Neil Diamond that has stood the test of time and influenced many artists. It is a song that showcases Diamond’s talent as a songwriter and singer, as well as his courage and integrity as an artist. It is a song that resonates with anyone who has ever felt lonely or disappointed in love, but still hopes for a better future. It is a song that celebrates the solitary man.

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