ABOUT THE INFORMANT:
My informant is a senior graduating this semester from USC. He is a biomedical engineer, and is the oldest son of two immigrants from China.
Interviewee: Whenever we have parties or go to parties it is basically a requirement that we sing the Neil, what’s his name?, song – “Sweet Caroline.”
Interviewer: Neil Diamond?
Interviewee: Yeah, I think. So we have to sing that song. But it’s not just a song, it’s like everyone sings it in a circle. And then like after the “Sweet Caroline” part in the chorus, we all have to say “Ba, ba, ba” and throw are fists in the air. It matches like the horns.
And then for the “good times never felt so good,” we all yell “So good, so good, so good,” with the same fist bumping.
Interviewer: Is that it?
Interviewee: Well that’s like the basics. But then for those in the know when he says “reaching out,” you gotta reach out to the rest of the group. “Touching me,” you put your hand on you. “Touching you,” touch someone else next to you.
And then if you really know it, the “warm touching warm” part you rub your hands together like they are cold.
“This started because, at least I think it started because of him, but one of our friends is from Boston. And he is like really into Boston. And he’s a Red Sox fan. And I guess the Red Sox fans do this during baseball games at Fenway Park. It’s like their anthem. So he gets really into it during the singing. But really it’s become just like a big group thing. Singing it with everyone. It pretty much will just stop the party.”
This song/dance has is an example of folklore traveling from location to location, event to event. What started as Neil Diamond writing a song for Caroline Kennedy has somehow gotten turned into a theme song for the Red Sox, which has then been used as a party song at USC. Probably for the person that came from Boston, who is “really into Boston,” used it as a way to show the people at USC his culture, but now the song has a whole USC culture to it. Especially at the point where it is practically guaranteed for any parties that this group of people throw or go to. It has now turned into a form of identity for this friend group at USC. Which is funny because it is derived from a form of identity for Red Sox fans and Bostonians.
“Sweet Caroline” can be heard in the film Fever Pitch about an obsessed Red Sox fan, and this is an article in The Boston Globe all about how this writer hates the tradition to sing it at the games.