Cheers And Gratitude To My Buddy, Neil Diamond!

Michelle Stimpson_Las Vegas

Did you hear the news? Neil Diamond has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! My recent tweet captured my feelings best:

“Heartfelt congrats to Neil Diamond R&R Hall of Fame Inductee! Amazing man, gifted musician, light in the world.”

Friendships come and go. Trends change. People grow older. And life continues. But one special ‘constant’ in my life has been the influence of Neil Diamond – singer and songwriter extraordinaire – which has etched a mark in my soul for 30 years.

The beginning

Michelle Joy LarsonI started life as a happy, positive, sunshiny kid. And my favorite thing to do was to bring joy to others. Along with the happiness, though, there was also a thread of sadness throughout my childhood. I felt very alone, trying to find my place in the world as I was shuffled back and forth between divorced and soul-searching parents.

Neil’s music was a rock in my unstable world; through his songs and gentle presence, I felt comfort, experienced a deep sense of joy, and felt “heard” – which I so yearned for.

For me, it was the beginning of a spiritual journey.

When I was in sixth grade, my best friend, Cassie, became a Neil fan, too! We formed our own elite “Diamond Girl” fan club and created super-strict eligibility requirements which made it literally impossible for anyone else to join (not that any other kid was beating down our door, but we wanted to be sure).

The membership guidelines included the following: Must be 12 years-old, a sixth grader in room 104, an Aquarius, Jewish, and have braces.

Naturally, no one else fit the bill but us!

Michelle Larson & Cassie_Diamond Girls

Diamond Girls, circa 1981

At the annual school dance festival, we petitioned to have our classroom’s performance accompanied by a Neil song (it didn’t work out).

When Halloween rolled around and our friends dressed as witches and ghosts, Cassie and I dressed as Neil Diamond fans with face paint and handed out flyers promoting his music. Neil: bet you didn’t know you had a small PR firm working on your behalf in West L.A.!

Cassie and I partnered together on a writing project in school, and I’ll never forget what Mrs. Bourman wrote at the top of the paper next to our ‘A’ grade: “Too much Neil Diamond, otherwise very well written.” Ha! Crazy girls.

Then I moved from L.A. to Minneapolis to live with my dad. And I carried all of my Neil albums on the plane with me because I didn’t want anything to happen to them. It turns out that shortly afterward, most of my belongings were destroyed in storage during torrential rains in L.A.

Thankfully, I still had my records.

My first concert

One day I got an enthusiastic call from my grandpa who said: “Michelle, guess what – your hero is coming to town!” How sweet – he was, of course, referring to Neil’s upcoming visit to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

I remember skipping part of the school day in junior high to get tickets. I stood outside in the freezing cold Minnesota winter for several hours, along with a myriad of bundled-up, aggressive ladies who almost knocked me over when the box office doors opened! Always shy and quiet, I kept to myself.

Michelle & DadMy concert ticket (courtesy of allowance money and my babysitting stash) bought me a seat where my early 80’s hairdo nearly scraped the arena ceiling. I needed a chaperone so my dad kindly went with me.

While I stood up and clapped and cheered during the show, my dad – a tough bouncer at a popular nightclub – seemed to be elsewhere. Let’s just say he was more of a Led Zeppelin/Jimi Hendrix sort of guy.

Through the years

And so Neil’s music came with me – junior high, high school, college, and moving from place to place; through life’s joys and life’s sorrows. I knew I could always count on Neil’s songs.Michelle Larson & Bill Stimpson_Wedding Day

In my mid 20’s, I married my best friend and soulmate, Bill. 

He attended his first Neil concert with me – reluctantly, yet graciously. Bill was a rocker with a flair for heavy metal, but…he fell in love with Neil after the very first show (whew!).

Recent synchronicities

So the past several years together as partners-in-crime, we have thoroughly enjoyed catching Neil’s shows both here at home and on the road. One of our favorite things to do is share the experience together and visit different cities, meet the locals, and spread sunshine wherever we go on our travels. What a thrill it has been!

And amazingly, moments of synchronicity have abounded on the tours. One example is how front row tickets keep popping up for Bill and me – ten times out of the last twelve concerts! (The other two concerts weren’t so bad, either – second row). :)

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Sioux City

Me with Bill - wearing his "front-row" shirt before a show in Sioux City, IA

Even when Neil played Madison Square Garden in New York City, we just happened to be traveling there that week for my cousin’s wedding. How’s that for odds? We ended up seeing two back-to-back shows – grateful for not only getting last minute tickets at this world-famous arena, but also scoring front row seats both nights…and getting to be a part of Neil’s first concert DVD in 20 years! There’s even a little interview clip of just the two of us in the “extras.”

We have so much fun at Neil’s shows. After one of the concerts on the last tour, a local radio station DJ came up to us outside and said, “I saw you guys up in front. You two were the happiest mother f’ers in the entire building!”

Love it.

Before every show, Bill and I set our intention to fill the arena with positive energy and light, and infect the crowd with enthusiasm. We want Neil and his loyal and talented band to know and feel all the joy they bring to us.

It seems that whenever we’re involved in a Neil concert, amazing things happen. I see it as a ‘wink and a nod’ from the universe, encouraging me to continue engaging in what brings me joy.

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_NYC

Off to Madison Square Garden - Bill with his “front-row” shirt again (I swear, it works every time!)

My full circle moment

Have you seen this incredible story about my special “full-circle” moment with Neil, almost 30 years in the making? If not, you’ve got to check it out. To this day, it still blows my mind.

Read about it here: How Synchronicity Led To A Front-Row Kiss

Michelle Stimpson & Neil Diamond_Grand Forks Herald

Transference of joy

My coaching business is based on this quote by Harold Whitman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


Neil excels at embracing what makes him come alive. And the gift is that I get to experience that aliveness each time I’m in his presence when he performs onstage, or when I’m at home listening to his tunes. I, in turn, exude that joyful feeling back out into the world. It’s similar to the “transference of joy” Kenny Lee Lewis of the Steve Miller Band talked about in our recent interview.

I think Neil sounds like a great candidate for a Joy-Follower interview, don’t you? Stay tuned.

My message to Neil

Neil, you’ve been a model to me since childhood of following what brings you joy. You radiate grace, gentleness, compassion, and zest for life. And as I said on Twitter recently, you are a true light in this world.

Thank you for your presence and friendship – via your music – all these years. You impact the world and make it a better place simply by being all of who you are. Congratulations on your induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

How funny that just as I finished this post…I came across an article on the Induction, where you said that your first choice of someone to induct you would be a fan.

>>>My calendar just happens to be open in mid-March. :)


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16 Responses to “Cheers And Gratitude To My Buddy, Neil Diamond!”

  • Bill says:

    Excellent post! Neil’s induction is obviously well deserved. I can’t wait for his 2011 tour – who knows what sort of “synchronicities” (and shenanigans) we’ll encounter this time around.
    And…I look forward to attending the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in March! :)

  • Mom S says:

    Michelle, excellent article, fun to read and you bring as much if not more joy to those who love you. Mom S

  • Jane says:

    This post had me smiling all the way through. You’d be the ideal fan-choice for Neil’s honor Michelle. Go for it! :)

  • Tami says:

    Michelle, I started your fan nomination on Neil’s web page!

    Anyone else want to get Michelle there?? Let’s get their attention – comment some more!

  • Connie says:

    Another great post Michelle. What you wrote spoke to me so much…it’s exactly how I feel about MJ. Michael has been a huge part of my life since about 1980 and he (his music) helped me through some very difficult times. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling that a musician is more than just that…they can be a friend, a confidant, a motivator and so much more. Michael is so important in my life that I decided to honor him on the anniversary of his death and got an MJ tattoo…I LOVE it!!!

  • This is such an awesome tribute not only to Neil but to JOY! I want to help you get there in March!!!

  • Char says:

    Wow, you know I feel and see this happening for you! Can’t wait till March!!! I really do see it!!!

  • Sharon says:

    I SOOO feel and “see” that you ARE going to be there in March…I have absolutely no doubt at all….I ENVISION you there and believe it will happen….woot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved your post and I so “get” ALL of it…….the meaning behind the meaning of it all…..the awesome thing is, Neil will be with you forever….now, that’s a grand constant! “pretty amazing grace!” xoxo love you!

  • Amazing. I love how you made this post so personal. Neat. Neil diamond is the best for sure. I love that song…Sweet Caroline…How about you ….whats your favorite track?

  • Lance says:

    How cool is ALL of this!! And in all of it – every word – I sense a very deep, deep joy!!

    Michelle, what a very cool Neil-ride this has been! And I know…there’s more to come!

    May the happy kisses from Neil (and Bill!!) keep flowing…


  • Joy says:

    Did you see Neil this week on The Sing-Off? Every time I see him he surprises and delights me.

  • Jodi says:

    Awesome! I love reading what you write! I can already picture you and Neil together during the Induction–more kisses I am sure!!

  • Hi All!

    Thanks so much for the fun and encouraging comments, support…and even nominations! Wow, what fun! I enjoyed writing up this story to share, as it is certainly a special part of my life. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and share in the joy with me – you’ve all made me smile!

    Of course if Neil would like a fan to introduce him, then I would LOVE to do it and I would be a great pick! Whoever it is will be the perfect and right one…I know and trust that it will all unfold exactly as it is meant to. :)

    Lucky me to have so many cool readers who are right there alongside me. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude! Your enthusiasm is contagious. And Tami, you ROCK!

    Wishing you all a blessed New Year,

    P.S. Jonathan, to answer your question, it’s a song called “I’ve Been This Way Before.” Goosebumps every time!

  • Hi!
    I loved your post – I have been a Neil Diamond Fan since I was 12 years old saw him in concert the first time when I was 13 – November 8th 1970… he so inspired me and “has been with me too” all my life. I was so moved my the man and his music about 8 years ago I made performing his music part of my entertainment job and 5 years ago at the suggestion of Neil’s original bass player I put a band together and made it my full time job, Diamond Is Forever! – The Neil Diamond Experience (name of our FB page too – you can also find me on FB as David J. Sherry) Just performed Friday night for a huge audience at San Diego’s ANTHOLOGY… and the dream continues hope you will check out what I do and tell you what you think – BTW though we are a tribute band I am NOT an impersonator – I am a Neil Diamond FAN!
    Check out the band –

  • Loved your post and the pic of you as a kid with the ND lp’s just precious! I too am a life long Neil Diamond fan since I was 12 years old. I saw my first Neil concert when I was 13 Nov 8th 1970!
    I was so inspired by ND that when a Big Band project I was a part of about 8 years ago unraveled I decided to follow my heart and my dream and put together a Neil Diamond Tribute! It was so successful that Randy Sterling Neil’s original bass player (“GOLD – Live at the Troubadour” & “Tap Root Manuscript”) saw my show and encourgaed me to put together a top shelf touring band… the rest is the simple story of heart and dream joining forces for a dream come true – BTW though DIAMOND IS FOREVER! – THE NEIL DIAMOND EXPERIENCE is a tribute band I am NOT an impersonator I AM A FAN who plays Neil’s Beautiful Noises!! (My FB page name is the same as above too also have one as David J. Sherry)
    Anyway I really loved reading this and wanted to say hello check us out on YouTube

  • Post note: Paul Simon did a great job of introducing Neil – what fun to watch the ceremony on TV last night!

    @ David: Hi there and thanks for visiting and sharing your story! Sounds like you’ve got a great gig going and are having fun with it – good for you! Love your YouTube videos – awesome!!! You’re up to great things. SO fun to hear that you’re living your dream and it’s also fun to know that we share a similar passion for Neil’s music. Wishing you all the best and keep enjoying life. Maybe see you at a concert sometime?! :)

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

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