After Neil Diamond’s fourth single for Bang Records, “You Got to Me,” failed to replicate the success of “Cherry, Cherry” despite being cast in the same upbeat style, Diamond tried a different tack with his fifth single, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” returning to the brooding ballad format of his first 45, “Solitary Man.” This time, the theme, inspired by all the teenage girls he was seeing in his audiences, was the time-honored one of the misunderstood boy trying to get somewhere with a girl who is being told “He’s not your kind” and “The boy’s no good” by her elders. He reminds her that she’s growing up quickly and is going to need some romance in her life, adding the hint of another much-used pop song theme, in which the girl is being told she’s too young for love. Without overwhelming the ever-present acoustic guitar, Artie Butler’s arrangement introduced strings, vibrato-laden electric-guitar arpeggios, and heavy drum fills, over which Diamond sang in his most sensitive, pained voice.
“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” was released in March 1967 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending April 8, peaking at number ten on May 27. It thus restored Diamond to Top Ten status. Bang included it on his second LP, Just for You (August 1967) and on the compilations Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits (June 1968), Shilo (July 1970), and Double Gold (December 1972). Diamond recorded a concert version for Hot August Night (November 1972) and, after acquiring the Bang masters, put the original version on the compilations Classics: The Early Years (May 1983), The Greatest Hits (1966-1992) (June 1992), In My Lifetime (October 1996), and The Essential Neil Diamond (December 2001), all of which reached the charts. There were several cover versions over the years before “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” was given a new lease on life in the early 1990s, more than 25 years after its initial popularity. In 1992, the alternative rock band Urge Overkill put its cover of the song on an EP called Stull. Film director Quentin Tarantino used the Urge Overkill version prominently in his critically acclaimed 1994 film Pulp Fiction, as a result of which it appeared on the triple-platinum soundtrack and was released as a single that peaked at number 59 on December 17, 1994, also placing at number 11 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart. As had been true with the success of UB40’s rendition of “Red Red Wine,” a Diamond song of a similar vintage, in the 1980s, the effect was to re-contextualize the song, and it began to earn more covers and inclusions on albums of movie songs. Among those who have recorded “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” are Jerome Richardson, Cliff Richard, the Biddu Orchestra, the Starlite Orchestra & Singers, the Countdown Singers, the Flying Pickets, Purr Machine, 16 Volt, the BB Band, the Di Angelo Orchestra, Third World, and David Essex.