"Shilo" as written by and Neil Diamond....
Young child with dreams
Dream ev'ry dream on your own
When children play
Seems like you end up alone
Papa says he'd love to be with you
If he had the time
So you turn on the only friend you can find
There in your mind

Shilo, when I was young
I used to call you name
When no one else would come
Shilo, you always came
And we'd play

Young girl with fire
Something said she understood
I wanted to fly
She made me feel like I could

Held my hand out, and I let her take me
Blind as a child
All I saw was the way that she made me smile
She made me smile

Shilo, when I was young
I used to call you name
When no one else would come
Shilo, you always came
And you'd stay

Had a dream, and it filled me with wonder
She had other plans
"Got to go, and I know that you'll understand"
I understand

Shilo, when I was young
I used to call you name
When no one else would come
Shilo, you always came


Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Shilo" as written by Neil Diamond

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Shilo song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentim trying to find out who shilo is
    yordiston June 09, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentShilo is an imaginary friend Neil had a child. Like the dragon in Puff the Magic Dragon, it is left behind with childhood. Yes I know Puff is not a Diamond song. It is also NOT about marijuana as some suggest... but I digress. Neil still rocks. See him live!
    johnboysvon May 01, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI looked up the name Shilo(h) to see what it means. There were a lot of similar but slightly different meanings. Basically it all boiled down to provider of peace and/or a reference to the messiah (or Jesus depending on if your Jewish or not). Being that Neil Diamond is Jewish (I think) it would seem that it would be more along the lines of provider peace, and that he might have chosen the name in the song for that reference. Maybe he didn't necessarily have the imaginary friend (I don't know for sure, maybe "johnboysv" read this in an interview, in which case I am way off) so much as it's a reference to himself as a lonely kid and finding peace with his faith and religion that in turn helped him through the hard times of solitude. When he grew up he found his stride and didn't lean so much on that aspect. In the end he simply used the story here as a symbolic piece, took a little creative license to make it more acceptable for the masses.

    Then again, I'm probably just rambling and finding things that aren't there. In either case, like "johnboysv" says, Neil does rock. I wish I was able to see Hot August Night, but I'm too young, hell I wasn't even born for another 5 years after it happened.
    Mnementhon May 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's pretty obvious what this song is about. Yes, an imaginary friend - "the only friend you can find/there in your mind" - and how he turns to the friend again in later life after having his heart broken by a real woman.

    This song breaks my heart. It's the sweetest song for someone who isn't even real, and the line "she had other plans" can bring me to tears. I grew up on Neil Diamond, and this song was such a staple of my youth. My mother used to listen to him all the time, and since she passed on this year, I've returned to him, renewed. First time I listened to the studio version of this in years, and it felt like coming home.
    Artemisianon July 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone catch in Wedding crasher when the guy was on the stairs admitting that he liked the crazy girl that he also had a imaginary friend, his name was shilo. I wonder if they used that name in reference to this song.
    theziggon July 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis was the first Neil Diamond song that left an impression on me. It is about having an imaginary friend. I believe Shiloh had religious significance as an oasis, a place of rest.
    detailrichon October 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReading the comments here and referencing my own interpretation I would agree with detailrich. It's quite possible that the hame Shilo[h] is symbolic for the feelings felt with his imaginary friend.
    pungemoon April 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    MemoryI wish I could thank this man in person. If it wasn't for this song I would be without a name. My mother said she heard this song just one week before I was born and she knew the meaning of this song and this imaginary friend named Shilo that would come to the rescue of this unloved child was her idealogy of what she wanted from me. I hope I have never let my mom down and will continue to be there for those who need to be helped.
    beyondme1216on May 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMnementh was on the right track I think. Shiloh is a Hebrew word that has been translated in different ways. A few include: "His gift" "Oh! May it be." and "He whose it is" . It was used in Genesis and is sometimes interpreted as another name for the Messiah. In the Christian context, this would be another name for Jesus. However, Neil Diamond is Jewish(although his current wife is Christian). Still, the calling of the 'imaginary friend' could be taken as saying a prayer or some such.

    I think this makes sense considering the grief he expresses at lost love. It reminds me of a line from Yehuda Amichai's "Love Gifts":

    You enabled me to live for a few months
    without needing a religion

    I'm not saying that either was influenced by the other, but that many people who have lost a loved one in one way or another will often turn to religion for comfort. Neil Diamond has spoken from time to time of his spirituality being an influence on his music. I think it's somewhat hard to accept a sane grown man asking for an actual imaginary friend to return. Perhaps the song is asking for a return to the spiritual comfort he had when he was a child, rather than the imaginary friend itself.
    pdxwastrelon November 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNeil Diamond split with Bert Berns, proprietor of Bang Records, over this song. Berns thought it was too heavy and introspective and wanted Diamond to continue doing lighter, poppier, happier songs like "Cherry Cherry."
    mbrachmanon October 14, 2011   Link

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