Have you ever noticed the disproportionate number of great songs invoking the name Caroline in the title? I've known just one Caroline my whole life and while she was a cool chick, it's the dearth of Carolines that speaks more to the puzzle here: how can so few Carolines inspire so much torch-carrying?
Exhibit A: Neil Diamond's 1969 hit Sweet Caroline forever immortilized in the bar scene from the movie Beautiful Girls, which parenthetically derived its inspiration from the bar scene with Frankie Vallie's Can't Take My Eyes off You in the classic 1978 movie The Deer Hunter. Sweet Caroline was a hit well before Beautiful Girls debuted of course, but the song has taken on a new life over the past ten years and is now the signature song of the Boston Red Sox, played at every home game. The pulp may be all sucked out for you now that it's hokey and overplayed, but there's no doubting Sweet Caroline's rightful standing as a legendary song.
Exhibit B: One of the better singer-songwriters of the past 10-15 years has been England's David Gray, who garnered long-deserved mainstream success with his terrific 1998 album, White Ladder. That album spawned hits such as Babylon, Sail Away, Please Forgive Me, Say Hello Wave Goodbye, and This Year's Love. Although Gray's 2002 album, A New Day at Midnight, didn't live up to White Ladder, there is one song that matches or exceeds his best hits: Caroline. Granted, it's not a huge mainstream hit like Sweet Caroline, but it's a terrific song and fairly well known on the college rock/indie rock scene. Unfortunately, no youtube clip exists, but I'm sure the industrious amoung you can download it with little problem whatsoever.
Exhibit C: Some hack blogger has, at various times in the past, attempted the monumental challenge of compiling a list of the greatest breakup songs in history. The Beach Boys' 1966 classic Caroline, No sits firmly within the Top 25 on that and many other top breakup songs lists. The song sets the tone for Pet Sounds, an album universally considered one of the best ever created, landing at #2 on Rolling Stone's all-time list, topping MOJO magazine's and New Musical Express' all-time greatest lists, chosen by TIME as one of the 100 best albums of all time, and one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Brian Wilson, about whom none other than Bob Dylan once crowed, "That ear, I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.", tabbed Caroline, No as his favorite song on the Pet Sounds album and "the prettiest ballad I've ever sung." High praise indeed.
The song was originally written as "Carol, I know," but, as luck would have it, Wilson misheard the phrase as "Caroline, No," and the rest is history. It comes in at an impressive #211 on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest songs of all-time.
Among those musicians paying homage to Caroline, No:
Another classic breakup song, Neil Young's Long May You Run, mentions the song in the lyrics.
Alt-Rock legends They Might Be Giants covered the song on their 2004 Indestructible Object EP.
Even more recently the Kaiser Chiefs referenced the song with their own Caroline, Yes on their breakthrough 2005 album, Employment. If you're unfamiliar with the Kaiser Chiefs, check out their kick-ass punk style I Predict a Riot from a couple of years ago. It sounds like it derives a lot of its inspiration from The Clash's own 1977 breakthrough single White Riot, but this one kicks more ass (though admittedly the Clash's speed and noise made a much larger impact on the music scene of the late 70s).