Sweet Caroline and the Power of Culture

I once tried to explain to a friend why John Denver’sThank God I’m a Country Boy plays at Orioles games. It was a short conversation. I’m sure Boston natives have had the same experience when discussing why Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline has been a crowd sing-a-long at Fenway for over a decade. Sometimes things just take hold.

flag-300x199There is a power in them when they do. When quirk becomes fad becomes ritual, it becomes imbued with the power to make people a part of something greater than themselves.

When fans at Camden Yards sang along to Sweet Caroline this week, they became something more than Baltimore. When fans at Yankee Stadium sang along to Sweet Caroline this week, they became something more than New York.  Left behind were the labels. Tea Party, Democrat, Republican, social conservative, progressive, liberal, libertarian and the like had, for the moment, forfeited within us the honor of place.

Two days removed from the tragedy of Boston, all it takes is a playing of Sweet Caroline to remind us that “who we are” is and always will be a greater notion than “who you’re not.” Even in the midst of tragedy, there’s more than a bit of reassurance in that.

Our prayers to Boston.

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