When I was 12 years-old I fell in love with Neil Diamond…the man, and his music (that’s me on the left, circa 1981!). As a kid, I often felt sad and lonely, and Neil’s music was a constant in my unstable world. Through his songs, I experienced a deep sense of joy and felt “heard,” which I so yearned for. And I’ve always been inspired by other people who follow the things in life that bring them joy. As a singer, songwriter, and performer, Neil excels at that!
Today, I’m as loyal and faithful of a fan as ever, so when Neil embarked on a big tour last year, I was thrilled! He kicked off the U.S. leg of his tour right here in Minnesota, and Bill and I saw several shows on the road and had a blast…getting front row tickets every time! Later you’ll hear more about how we got those tickets, but for now, let’s just say that at just the right time, they always appeared. And we are SO grateful!
Anyway, it was quite a run, and as the tour was winding down, we noticed that there was a show coming up in Grand Forks, North Dakota (which, in late November, is not necessarily high on our list of places to visit). We had already spent a good amount of money on shows and it would be a long, cold drive; it just didn’t seem realistic or practical to make the trek.
Should I stay or should I go?
But when you’re following your joy, it’s more of a “heart” thing. So we decided to pay attention to whatever messages came our way and follow the energy to see whether or not we should go.
Two days before the show, a pair of front row seats popped up on Ticketmaster! I certainly didn’t need any more of a clear message. Of course we jumped on the tickets and made our travel plans for the six-hour road-trip to the frozen tundra! And man was I glad we did…
Once again, it was such a thrill to be right in the front; to be a “part” of the show and get some nods and thumbs-up from the band members who saw us having a great time. It all felt pretty special! I was delighted to be there and share in the spirit and aliveness of music that night which connected all 10,000 of us music lovers.
30 years of joy culminating in one surprise moment
Shortly after the show started, Neil began singing the beautiful “September Morn.” This was a surprise, as he hadn’t sung that one before on the tour. He walked down the steps on the far side of the stage and continued his song, slowly walking the length of the front row, and he seemed to be coming in our direction. As he gradually made his way over, he stopped in front of me when our eyes locked, and then he reached out his hand toward me!
I took his hand and the entire arena erupted.
Neil pulled me close to him and continued singing to me as we moved down the front row together. I followed his lead as he sashayed along, the spotlight now on just the two of us! I remember hearing the screams all around me, but as far as I was concerned, there was nothing else going on in the world as we deeply stared into each other’s eyes during the song. I’m quite sure my smile had enough voltage to illuminate the arena!
I finished singing the lyrics with Neil and then he leaned in to kiss me. Wow, I didn’t see that coming! More cheering from the crowd.
Then we slowly parted and I walked back to my seat…stunned, awed, and with a quiet knowing that there was certainly a larger force involved in this unforgettable moment, almost 30 years in the making. I wondered if my team of angels had been hanging out in the rafters above so that they could witness first-hand the magic unfolding below?
When the song ended and Neil got back to his spot up on the stage, he thanked me for the kiss. And then he thanked Bill for not beating him up! Very sweet. It was one of those life moments that I will never forget. In ways, it felt like an affirmation for following my joy throughout my life and doing what truly makes me come alive. Heartfelt thanks to the universe for noticing my efforts and orchestrating that one! So much gratitude.
After the show, it was fun to revel in my instant stardom. I was congratulated, high-fived, and photographed with people I’d never met. It was fun living it up! Then we walked into the bar and everyone in the place got off their barstools to come over and meet me. When we sat down to order food, our server said, “Did you hear what happened tonight?!”
Not surprisingly, all the reporters and other fans wanted to know about “the kiss.” Of course I loved it and playfully told the Grand Forks Herald it was a “10.” On a bigger-picture level, though, the most important part of the experience for me was that it was truly a spiritual moment to connect so deeply with a beautiful soul who has touched my life in the most wonderful way for almost 30 years.
Believe that anything is possible
My favorite of all the articles that ran in the local papers over the next few days starts out like this: “All Neil Diamond fans can agree that the legendary performer who has sold 125 million records, who has a Grammy and 36 Top 40 hits, has a great voice. But Michelle Stimpson is one fan who also knows Neil Diamond is a good kisser.”
Funny! Who would have thought? And out of 82 concerts on the tour that spanned Europe and North America, this deal happened only once. Amazing…
Before the U.S. tour began last summer, I was interviewed for our local newspaper here in the Twin Cities. The writer suggested that I hold up a sign for Neil since I was in the front row and such a big fan. I replied that there weren’t necessarily any words I wanted to convey to Neil…instead, I just wanted him to see my smile, mirroring all of my joy and appreciation back to him.
Now, I can be 110% sure that Neil saw my smile.