Diane Chaplin wasn’t thinking about the president of the United States when she filmed a friend singing “Sweet Caroline” in 2007. But the president, and a handful of other A-list celebrities, was the one watching the footage last week.
Chaplin, a die-hard Red Sox fan, was watching game two of the World Series back in 2007 when Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” came on the sound system.
Ed, a tour guide at the stadium and friend of Chaplin’s, started singing along, so she whipped out her camera to capture his performance.
A short while later, she uploaded the video to YouTube for the enjoyment of Ed and the rest of her friends.
Shortly after that, Diamond exposed whom he wrote “Sweet Caroline” about: Caroline Kennedy. AOL did a story on the confession, and included a link to Chaplin’s video, which soon went viral. She thought that was the end of her clip’s fame.
But last week, Chaplin’s phone was ringing off the hook: her friends were texting and calling her about something they had just seen on television.
“I was like, ‘What?’” she said.
Chaplin’s friends were watching the Kennedy Center Honors last Tuesday night when they recognized Chaplin’s familiar footage. Neil Diamond was being honored this year, and three seconds of Chaplin’s video were used in a montage about the singer’s career.
“My friends recognized the clip from when it was on AOL,” she said.
Chaplin wasn’t just excited that her friends saw it; she was thrilled to think of the celebrities in attendance that night. She even wrote out a list of who was there: Meryl Streep, YoYo Ma, Bill Cosby and many more. Of course, Neil Diamond was present, too.
But Chaplin wasn’t watching the Kennedy Center Honors, and had to look up the program online the next day.
“I had no idea,” she said about them using her video.
She might have known if she had checked her YouTube account a few weeks earlier. An employee of the Kennedy Center sent Chaplin a message on YouTube in early November asking permission to use a few seconds from her video. Chaplin didn’t see the message until after the clip aired, and she never granted the Kennedy Center express permission to use what she filmed. But they used the clip anyway.
“It’s public,” she said of the video. “I just wonder if they would have invited me to the ceremony had I responded.”
Sara Crosby, who works for the Kennedy Center Honors, was the woman who contacted Chaplin via YouTube.
“Part of what we were trying to do for Mr. Diamond's tribute film was to show the immense reach of his songs, and no song reaches further than ‘Sweet Caroline,’” wrote Crosby in an e-mail. “It's moved far beyond the typical pop song, into the realms of global sports anthem. And the Red Sox really helped propel that, but if the fans didn't love it, it would never have reached the heights that it has. So it was very important for our film to include fan videos of the song being sung during games.”
Crosby said she was “lucky” to find Chaplin’s video, which included all of the aspects she was looking for in a tribute clip.
“It had everything we were looking for,” she said. “Fans dressed in red, singing along and looking like they were having the time of their lives. Plus it was well shot, which made our lives easier.”
Chaplin doesn’t have professional experience in videography – she works as a special education teacher at Aldrich Junior High. The video itself is only three minutes long, but has had 331,001 YouTube views.
“We are very grateful to Ms. Chaplin for allowing us to use her footage in our film tribute to Neil Diamond for the Kennedy Center Honors,” said Crosby.
Chaplin thinks the attention and the excitement of her friends is fun, but isn’t a die-hard Neil Diamond fan.
“I like ‘Sweet Caroline,’” she said. “But I’m more of a Red Sox fan.”