JCK has covered “Five Songs about Diamonds”; now here are five songs about the gems in their most common habitat—as part of a ring. Below, tunes that paint diamond rings as signs of love, commitment, wealth—and sometimes, frustration.
“This Diamond Ring”—Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Probably the best known and most popular of the five songs discussed here, this oldies-channel staple tells the story of a poor sap who thought his diamond ring would be a symbol of “a dream that is coming true”—until his intended takes a walk. Now, the ring doesn’t sparkle, doesn’t shine, and he just wants to sell it—and that’s not too easy, 30 years before eBay.
Written by Al Kooper, best known as the organist on “Like a Rolling Stone,” this song started out as a slow soulful number, meant for The Drifters (who rejected it):
But it was turned into a hit by 19-year-old Gary Lewis—whose flat nasal singing voice proved without a doubt he was the son of comedian Jerry Lewis—and his group, the Playboys (although none of the actual Playboys played on the song). Kooper said he “hated” Lewis’ version, but his undeniably catchy take was not only a worldwide smash, it spawned a cover by the Chipmunks, as well as a contemporary soundalike answer song, “Gary Don’t Give That Diamond Ring,” where the woman who spurned Gary comes back and begs him for forgiveness. Or maybe she just wanted the ring:
“Baby Wants a Diamond Ring”—The Squirrel Nut Zippers
A song that you could swear was written 70 years ago, but is actually the creation of 90s retro band The Squirrel Nut Zippers, this Cajun-influenced tune tells the story of a woman who knows what she wants—a diamond. (Although she appears a little more interested in the man that comes with it.) The song appeared on the soundtrack of Disney’s “Happily N’ever After”—and its fans span the generations, with one writing on YouTube: “My mom thought this was ‘boring old-people music’ but I happen to find this one of the most exciting sounds I have discovered in my life. Weird huh?”
Check out the video: youtube.com/watch?v=8ti5WELyYCo
“Diamond Ring”—Bon Jovi
If the industry ever needs a new theme song, it might want to consider this acoustic number from hair metal icons Bon Jovi, whose lyrics could form the script of a vintage De Beers commercial. “Diamond ring, wear it on your hand,” sings Bon Jovi, in unmistakable power-ballad style. “It’s gonna tell the world, I’m your only man.” The song was never released as a single, although the album it appeared on, 1995’s “These Days,” was a big hit in Japan and Europe.
“Diamond Ring”—Sheryl Crow
As with Bon Jovi, for Sheryl Crow, a diamond ring represents commitment, but she’s not sure if that’s a good thing. “Diamonds may be sweet,” she sang on her 2008 album Detours. ”But to me they just bring on cold feet.” The not-exactly-romantic lyrics led a Rolling Stone reporter to wonder if the song was inspired by Crow’s ill-fated engagement to bicyclist Lance Armstrong. “All I can say is that I’ve been engaged three times,” she responded. “So I have a thing about diamonds.”
Not everyone views diamond rings as symbols of love. In this 2008 ska-influenced single, which became a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, British rapper Chipmunk seems more interested in flashing his rings around—or maybe just letting people know he has them. “My rings got so many carats,” he raps. “You usually call this rabbit food.”