All the songs in 'A Beautiful Noise' on Broadway
Learn how the musical’s creators "Cherry, Cherry"-picked from Neil Diamond’s vast catalog and used the hit songs to describe his inimitable life and career.
Neil Diamond has released 39 albums and sold more than 130 million records in his 60-year career year. A Beautiful Noise is a Broadway bio-musical that tells the Brooklyn-born superstar's story through his extensive song catalog.
The show features a book by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody), direction by Michael Mayer (Funny Girl), and famous songs and lesser-known tunes penned by Diamond. The show also includes a few tunes co-written with others, adding up to more than 30 songs that paint a full portrait of his career.
Diamond, who is now 82, is portrayed as a young man by Will Swenson and in the present by Mark Jacoby. The curated songs create a narrative fit for a star who shines like a, well, Diamond.
Read on to learn more about songs in the show and how they tell the story of this solitary man.
Get A Beautiful Noise tickets now.
“A Beautiful Noise”
As a teenage songwriter in Brooklyn, Diamond found inspiration all around him – from the sound of a kid in the park “that plays until dark” to “the clickety-clack of a train on a track.” He wrote this song for his high school sweetheart, Jaye Posner (played by Jessie Fisher), who later becomes his wife.
“I’ll Come Running” / “I Got the Feelin’ (Oh No, No)” / “I’m a Believer”
Young Neil meets with songwriter and producer Ellie Greenwich (Bri Sudia), who gives him two minutes to knock her socks off. This early non-hit is about a rocky romance. “Both made mistakes, had some bad breaks, but we’ve got what it takes to go on.” Greenwich is not so impressed.
So he pulls out another ditty about yet another doomed love story: “That old time fire’s gone. It’s not so much things you say, love. It’s what you don’t say I am afraid of.” Nope. Greenwich is like Goldilocks; she’s looking for a tune that’s just right.
Finally, Diamond takes another dive into the boy-meets-girl well and comes up with this more optimistic number. “I thought love was only true in fairy tales, meant for someone else but not for me,” he sings slowly. “…and then I saw her face.” Greenwich was sold.
“The Boat That I Row”
This song, along with the next three, pops up during a demo recording session. “The Boat That I Row” speaks about being okay with being an outsider – “I don’t go around with the local crowd” – and notes there’s room for someone who’s okay with that. Greenwich declares, “That’s going to Lulu.” Yes, the British pop singer recorded it.
“Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”
Another song, another story about women. Specifically, it’s about having to make a choice between a couple of them – Mary and her “lips like strawberry pie” and Sandra, who’s got “the long hair.” It’s a tune that hints at serious choices. Diamond faced similar choices in his life, as the musical shows a bit later on.
“Red, Red Wine”
“Red, red wine, go to my head. Make me forget that I still need her so.” The song about drinking away your woes also appears in the demo medley.
“Kentucky woman, she shines with her own kind of light, she’d look at you once, and a day that’s all wrong looks all right.” The song illuminates how young Neil shines with his own special light when he performs. Why write for others when you can sing like that?
Diamond’s first live performance is about holding out for a relationship that’s going to last “right or wrong, weak or strong.” At the Bitter End in New York City, Diamond’s performance of this song establishes him as a singular talent beyond the recording studio. Just like in the song, his relationships prove challenging in real life.
Performed by Young Neil at the Bitter End, the upbeat number gets a huge response. “Cracklin' Rosie, make me smile,” he belts. “Girl, if it lasts for an hour, that's alright.” But not really. The tune subtly conveys Diamond’s struggles to sustain happiness.
“Song Sung Blue”
The hit tune speaks to singing away the blues or clouds of depression. Diamond struggles with these blues, and in the musical, he sings this tune with Marcia Murphey (Robyn Hurder). The Bitter End employee becomes a major player in his life after sympathizing with his battle.
“Hey, she got the way to move me, Cherry. She got the way to groove me.” Young Neil sings this upbeat number to his wife, Jaye, and to the other woman in his life, Marcia. Two cherries means there’s a problem — he has to pick one woman or live a life of infidelity, and someone is going to get hurt, no matter what.
As Neil’s first marriage falters, this wistful hit song speaks to lovers looking back at the way things were: “Do you remember how we danced that night away?” Diamond wrote this song with Gilbert Bécaud.
“Love on the Rocks”
The title says it all. Jaye sings this song, co-written by Diamond and Bécaud, before she leaves her husband with their kids.
As he deals with a crushing challenge (signing with a mob-run record label), Young Neil struggles to write a song that will change the course of his career. While singing this hit tune he co-wrote with Alan Lindgren, Diamond reaches out to three women in his life – wife Marcia, ex-wife Jaye, and mentor Ellie. “Hello, again, hello. I just called to say hello.” He’s also in need of some reassurance he’s not alone.
“Good times never seemed so good” as in this optimistic number. It ends Act 1 as Young Neil finds the inspiration to write a catchy hit song with an infectious “bum bum bum” chorus that solves his career dilemma. Sweet indeed!
“Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show”
Young Neil, who’s now been nicknamed “The Jewish Elvis,” is in full command of his performing powers as the second act begins. He can work a stage and an audience like nobody’s business. This song about a magnetic evangelist who travels from town to town preaching parallels his own experience.
“You are the sun, I am the moon. You are the words, I am the tune. Play me.” Young Neil and Marcia share this iconic romantic ballad in one sweet moment as his constant touring starts to take a toll on their marriage.
“Forever in Blue Jeans”
As upbeat as it is matter-of-fact, the hit song Diamond co-wrote with Richard Winchell Bennett speaks to the idea that it takes more than buckets of cash to sustain a romance. “Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk.” Cracks in Diamond’s second marriage provide evidence.
Diamond’s song about a man seeking a way home further underscores his rocky search for happiness amid deepening personal issues, though his career is soaring.
“Thank the Lord for the Night Time”
The up-tempo number celebrates the night life beyond the “uptight” 9 to 5. And that can be at odds for a man with a wife and kids – like Young Neil.
“Crunchy Granola Suite”
The song was inspired by the healthy lifestyle Diamond discovered after moving to California, the same place his marriage to Marcia ultimately comes undone.
“You Don't Bring Me Flowers”
Written by Diamond with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the haunting and plainspoken hit song finally signals the end of Neil and Marcia’s 25-year-marriage. Outside the musical, Diamond's song is famously covered by Barbra Streisand, who is name-dropped a few times in A Beautiful Noise.
“Pretty Amazing Grace”
This song is about discovering hope and meaning. In the wake of his second divorce, Diamond meets his third wife, Katie. The number underscores his recollection of that game-changing moment.
"If I close my eyes, I can almost hear my mother callin', 'Neil, go find your brother.'" As Neil takes stock of where he is in his life, he reflects on his youth and where he grew up.
The beloved song celebrating the story of immigrants coming to America seeking a better life speaks to Diamond’s own family. Neil's parents, Rose (Bri Sudia) and Kieve (Tom Alan Robbins), sing it alongside him.
This song about an imaginary friend speaks to the loneliness that persists throughout Diamond’s life despite his successes.
“I Am...I Said”
“Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein’ a king and then became one?” the famous song asks. The elder Neil reflects on his inability to perform in public due to illness in this powerful and introspective hit song — the first and only time the character sings in A Beautiful Noise.
A potent love song packed with spiritual energy concludes the show, celebrating Diamond's ultimate and undeniable success amid his hardships. To experience these songs firsthand, hear the beautiful noise for yourself at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Get A Beautiful Noise tickets now.
Photo credit: A Beautiful Noise on Broadway. (Photos by Julieta Cervantes)
Originally published on