Neil Diamond, June 1970, Minneapolis Auditorium

The next concert–way more to come in a long list.

Not a big fan of the guy—then or now. He definitely had a great voice then. But it wasn’t about the music. That was a warm-up, a reason to be out for the evening and part way into the night. Jill liked Neil; me occasionally. I heard the hits—including:

  • Cracklin’ Rosie
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Cherry Cherry
  • And more, of course

I did enjoy the concert–albeit quite different from the Beatles, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Steppenwolf. The packed house for the very popular Neil Diamond loved it.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. I finally began college at the University of Minnesota six years after high school; money and the military intervened. I excerpted the text below from the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland.

During the first week of classes, an attractive but married woman started hitting on me. . . . Over a few weeks, during between-class coffee-fueled dialogues, she explained, “Dave and I have an understanding. He doesn’t mind if I go out with other men.”

“Are you sure? It just doesn’t seem right to me to go out with a married woman.” 

“John, it’s OK. He doesn’t have time to do everything I want or care for all my needs. If it’s OK with him, why should it bother you?”

The attention was flattering, but I was trying to reclaim my ideals, not corrupt them further. I was hooked when she casually provided a peek at a model portfolio a photographer had created for her, including an array of classic nudes

____________

Jill and I went on our long-awaited first date, [the Neil Diamond concert] after my divorce. I picked her up at her home, still wondering whether I should be doing this and why she had picked me out of a university crowd. Despite my doubts, I couldn’t help being excited about it anyway. Nearly to the open car door, she turned back to wave goodbye to her husband Dave, an average-looking guy perhaps a few years older than she or I. He was standing in the doorway, leaning down a little to get a look at me, waiting behind the wheel. It would be 2:30 a.m. before I brought her home. While the agreement with Dave did not extend to sleepovers, apparently, it didn’t preclude wild sex. In the face of my earlier self-doubts, Jill assured me I had nothing to fear in future amorous adventures with women. How encouraging. 

___

Then it was on to a summer of sex. It was the best sex I had ever had, not that I had had so much sex by age 23. I sublet the attic apartment of another antiwar veteran that summer in a house on Clarence Avenue Southeast, near the campus. He had painted the entire apartment in monochrome black—the walls, the trim, the bathtub and sink, the pipes, everything. It was an unusual but not very inviting color scheme. So I livened up the wall with a life-size poster print of Jill in a two-piece swimsuit, posing on the grass at Lake of the Isles. We also went to other Minneapolis lakes that summer, Calhoun, Harriet and Cedar, where we could swim or sun. With Dave working during the day and Jill taking only a few summer classes, there were plenty of free days for hitting the beaches. There were also opportunities for afternoon delight before I went to my job at the Post Office. Other times we met between classes, making out in one or another of the lover-friendly alcoves of Coffman Union once the student occupation [Vietnam War protests] ended. 

___

In October, Jill gave me the news over coffee at Coffman Union. “It’s over,” she said.

“What do you mean, over?”

“I’m leaving Dave.”

“So,” I began optimistically, “Does that mean you’ll spend more time with me?”

“No. It means I need space to consider what I really want and need.”

“OK. So where does that leave us?”

“There is no us. There is you, and there is me. If I continued seeing you now, it would remind me of Dave. It just wouldn’t work.”

“So you’re leaving him and me?”

“Yes. We’ve had some great times together, which I will always treasure, but all good things must end. This is the end.”

“But—”

“Don’t worry, John, there will be other women after me,” she said as she stood to walk away.

I sat in shock at the table. I had put too much of myself into our relationship. Jill had left me bleeding raw, ripping away the tendrils of heart and soul I had foolishly attached to her. Jim Morrison’s voice ran through my head, singing the Doors’ slow dirge, “The End.” I felt sure that Jill was wrong.

REMINDERThe Fountain is on sale on Kindle at $1.99 from 4pm PDT today to midnight June 8th

4 thoughts on “Neil Diamond, June 1970, Minneapolis Auditorium

  1. What a wild story! I can’t say I’ve ever been with a married woman before. I know it takes all kinds to make the world, but the notion of a husband watching as his wife’s lover drives his wife away is hard to wrap my brain around.

    We just returned from my son’s wedding—a lovely event (No Internet), so I’m behind. One of my goals this month is to read Jumped by a Deadly Cholla with about five others I want to get to. I’m crazy busy right now, but I’m sure I’ll feel better now that we’re home for a while.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Pete. I’m sure you will enjoy the Deadly Cholla and other stories.
      Those were some crazy times for me, too. I wouldn’t go out with Jill until I got a divorce from my first wife. Never did a similar thing again.

  2. Crazy times – good old days no doubts. I remember reading those stories in your books. I will share around the sale again. 🙂

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