My Memories of Neil Diamond

Reading these entries of the diaries bring back so many of my own memories, and for an old lady such as I (55), my memories go waaaaaay back. I remember still being in high school and loving his music and now 37 years later he’s still the only artist I could listen to all the time.

A brief synopsis of some of my experiences. The first time I saw him I was probably in 11th grade and it involved driving to Duluth (60 miles from my small northern Minnesota town) and joy of joy my parents let me take the car for the trip there! Tickets cost just a mere $5.75 — before Ticketmaster and any addon fees. I went with my two best friends from high school and it was a small venue (compared to what he fills now). We were about 10 rows from the stage and for a bunch of “country bumpkins”, I still remember he had a red shirt on and the buttons were opened and we all went gaa gaa over his chest hair!!

The next time we saw him was at the Minnesota State Fair and that would have been 1970 or 1971. A bunch of us were going to the fair (this time a 200 mile ride), and my same two friends and I made plans that as soon as we got to the fairgrounds we were going to buy tickets for the show that evening (obviously Neil hadn’t quite hit his stride because, yes, tickets could still be bought the day of the show). My friend’s brother who drove a bunch of us to the fair told us to all meet at 6PM to begin our ride home. My friends and I knew better but we figured we’d cross that bridge when we got to it. Sure enough 6PM came and we met with the brother and said we can’t go home because we had tickets to the first show with Neil Diamond. Bless his heart, he agreed to stay until the show was over and even he was able to buy at ticket just an hour before the show. I remember going inside the grandstand where they had race cars driving around and I could see Neil and others sitting on a flatbed facing the crowd….something he couldn’t quietly do anymore….and like the lovestruck kid I was, I was looking at him through binoculars and waving and, by gosh, if he didn’t wave back. Of course he wasn’t waving AT me but I was hard pressed to think otherwise for many years!!

My love for Neil never wavered and I then moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Whenever he’d come to town, he’d do multiple shows and with the exception of one or two concerts, whenever he puts on multiple shows, I go to them all….a groupie before I knew what one was! Previous posters to this talked about getting tickets before wristbands and one of my fondest memories is going out to the old Met Sports Center arena at 1:30 in the morning and setting up my lawnchair and blanket, food, drinks, etc. I thought 1:30 AM was early — and you should have seen the people ahead of me!! I had more fun that night and into the next day until the doors finally opened and ticket sales began.

My memories are many but the BEST (because it involves two people I care so very much for — Neil of course and a former boss and very dear man and friend of mine who passed away 2 years ago –) Ray knew how “nuts” I was about Neil but I never expected the surprise I got. Neil was performing at the Met Sports Center and it turns out that Ray had a client (I work in a law firm) and this client was good friends with a person who owned (or at least partially) the old Met Center. True to my concert ways, I’d come to work every morning after a late night at the concert and trying to wind down afterwards and talk and talk to Ray about how much fun I had and how I loved it and love Neil, etc. Two days later I had an envelope arrive in the mail at my office and the return address was the Met Sports Center. Here Ray had told this client, who told his friend, who told Neil and I opened it and out came a picture taken two nights previously at the concert and not only was it autographed but it was personally autographed (To Sue – Love From Neil Diamond). It included the date too but right now I can’t remember as I’m at work and would have to dig it out from my bureau at home but I was totally blown away!!

In addition to all the “local” concerts around here, I also saw Neil in Las Vegas back in 1999 (January 1 or 2). A friend of mine from Wisconsin had met friends from Las Vegas (met through the internet and they are my best friends now for 10 years but that’s another story). The man of the couple always said he didn’t like Neil, didn’t like his music, etc., etc. Leslie and I had actually met these people the previous June and enjoyed ourselves so much that when we heard Neil was going to be in Vegas over New Year’s I asked Jim what he thought if we came out there and we could all see Neil. To my delight he said sure, so in the end there were about 8 of us who went. Now the fans are a little more subdued there (or they were in 1999 anyway). He performed at the MGM and Leslie and I are used to getting up and swaying to the songs, singing along, etc. These peoople did nothing. How many times I wanted to jump up and get it on but I didn’t feel I should. Every time Neil or the band would strike a cord, I’d lean over to Jim and say “I love this song”. Finally when it got to Holly Holy and I said “I really love this song”, Jim said you have said that about every song and I said yes but this one I REALLY love. He’ll never understand my feelings in that regard but I will say he was a wonderful friend and a good sport to go to that with me — except for the screaming lady behind me who I had to hold him back from turning around and saying something to her! He did enjoy and actually stood up when Neil sang America.

OK I’ve rambled on long enough — but the memories are so vivid still and to enjoy a performer all these years and still just hinging hopes on his next tour, I couldn’t resist adding my lengthy memories to the mix. Someday I hope to get to the Chicago birthday — maybe 2009 🙂

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