Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY
Leading a tearful crowd of more than 35,000 baseball fans in a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond inspired hope at Boston's Fenway Park days after the bombings of the Boston Marathon in April. The soft-rock classic became an unlikely anthem for people who were shaken by the events, sung in ballparks across the nation and sparking the legendary crooner to write Freedom Song (They'll Never Take Us Down), which honors the indelible American spirit.
"This song has been bubbling inside of me for a long time," Diamond says. "I didn't know what it would be when I first started it, but I knew it was a love song; a love song between a man, his country and his fellow citizens."
Written and recorded in about six weeks, Freedom Song was released on iTunes and Amazon Tuesday, ahead of its live debut at the Washington Nationals-Milwaukee Brewers baseball game in Washington on the Fourth of July.
Diamond also will perform the tune for a national television audience that evening as part of the PBS special A Capitol Fourth (8 live ET/ tape-delayed PT) broadcast from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and featuring a starry lineup including Barry Manilow, Glee's Darren Criss and American Idol winner Candice Glover.
All of the song's profits will benefit the Boston One Fund and the Wounded Warriors Project.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee believes the tune not only encapsulates the patriotism he felt when meeting the first responders in Boston this spring but also the gumption he has seen across the USA in his five-decade career.
"I've seen this spirit all over the country," Diamond says. "So many people have opened their doors to help me get the message across, which is America is worth loving and we should be proud of what we have and be very careful to protect it."
And what else lies in store for the Grammy winner this Fourth of July weekend? Spending time with his family, of course, but also working to promote his latest effort.
"I'll be celebrating America in the best possible way, and that's by extolling its generosity to me and my family, who came to this country 100 years ago," Diamond says. "This is my way of saying thank you, and I'm hoping it all adds up to something, has some kind of message and does some good."
Other Independence Day TV celebrations:
Aerial America, a 30-hour marathon of the series that shows aerial shots of the landscapes and cityscapes of the nation. Smithsonian Channel, 12 a.m. ET/PT.
Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, featuring Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, host Nick Cannon and fireworks-show "curator" Usher. NBC, 8 p.m. ET/PT.
The Revolutionary War, marathon airing of the 1995 documentary series narrated by the late Charles Kuralt. The Military Channel, Wednesday (7 p.m. ET/PT) to Friday (6 a.m ET/PT). To catch the six episodes in sequence (and in one sitting), start at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Independence Day, (for those inclined toward more fictional entertainment), the 1996 feature film with Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum and Mary McDonnell fighting alien ships that are zapping Earth's cities. Telemundo and A&E, 8 p.m. ET/PT.