Good times never seemed so sad.
In a cheeky effort to shed light on social-distancing rules, an Irish pub on Spain’s Canary Islands announced that Neil Diamond’s classic tune “Sweet Caroline” is officially banned from the watering hole.
“There will be no: touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you,” reads a chalkboard quoting the legendary hit song at Murphy’s Irish Bar in Corralejo.
Owner Linda Carroll posted a photo of the funny decree on Friday that’s since been shared hundreds of times.
“2020 claims another victim. RIP Sweet Caroline,” one person joked on Twitter.
But it’s not just the lyrics that make the 1969 ballad an easy target for COVID-19 quips: The song has a rich history of being belted out in unison by boozed-up patrons at gin mills, potentially triggering superspreading events.
“People can’t help but to sing the lyrics,” said Terence Haggerty, the owner of Staten Island’s longtime Irish joint Jody’s Club Forest. “The words are easy to remember, it’s fun and it definitely always brings a bar crowd together.”
Haggerty, 37, who inherited the West Brighton biz from his father, Jody, after he died, said his dad blasted the tune for his customers ever since he opened the pub in 1976.
“People like to go to a bar to mingle and meet new people,” said Haggerty, who still plays the ditty during celebrations. “With this song, people can put their arms around each other and just sing and be happy no matter what is going on in their lives.”
Bob McArthur, a local Neil Diamond impersonator of 20 years, explained that the singalong phenomenon is “by far” his most requested.
He added that fans especially love shouting the song, potentially unleashing virus-laden respiratory droplets.
“There’s usually a lot of projecting going on,” said McArthur, 52.
Also a sports-stadium staple, “Sweet Caroline” is used by teams like the Boston Red Sox, which has played it regularly at Fenway Park since 1997, and Charlotte’s NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, since 1996. The Panthers recently threw on the song at their empty Bank of America Stadium in honor of the pandemic’s front-line workers.
The song’s coronavirus connection wasn’t missed by the 79-year-old musical great himself, either. In March, Diamond released a rendition of the tune with a COVID-19 bent.
“Hands . . . Washing hands . . . Reaching out . . . Don’t touch me, I won’t touch you,” he sings in the YouTube clip that’s garnered more than 3.5 million views.
But there is one option for “Sweet Caroline” songbirds: “Just sing with a mask on,” said McArthur.
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