SKF NOTE: My reaction to Neil’s reply in this email exchange (January 1-3, 2015) was surprise and sadness. Surprise because the Neil I knew was interested in history, collecting — or at least chronicling. He kept notebooks while traveling. He wrote journals. And at the end of Neil’s Rush tours or bicycle/motorcycle trips it seems he always produced a recap; a series of blog posts, a book — something.
When he responded to my offer to send him copies of his letters – his one of a kind letters – with, “You can go ahead and destroy those letters…,” I was taken off-guard, especially with Neil’s news that, with some exceptions, he had “burned or shredded all my old letters, in or out.”
Neil’s certainly not the first historic figure to destroy personal documents. As much as I understand that, that’s how much I wince at the potential loss to historians, biographers, and in Neil’s case, to musicians.
My email is edited. I removed chit-chat having nothing to do with this exchange. Except I told Neil I had recently contacted drummer Roy McCurdy and was in the process of seeing if Modern Drummer would be interested in my interviewing Mr. McCurdy.
Jan 1, 2015, 3:09 PM
Hi Neil –
Happy New Year!
…I’m revisiting boxes of my stuff; everything I took with me when moving out of the Dixmont house. One box is full of drum memorabilia, including handwritten and typed letters from you. I don’t have a total, because I’m finding your letters and postcards in many places.
Point: Would you like copies of these letters/postcards? I am finally getting off my ass and digitizing papers, audiotapes, photos, etc.
Some of these items even have historic value, I think.
Back on point: Yesterday I found two of your letters from 1986. One is a five-page handwritten letter when you were in Morin Heights, Quebec “sitting in the neighborhood cafe, about to have some supper.”
Your second letter was written in Toronto: “You will no doubt notice a new neatness to my flush right margins in this letter. This is brought to you courtesy of my new Macintosh computer….”
So, if you would like copies of your letters, I think it might be easiest for me to just scan them, save them as PDF files, and email them to you at the time of scanning.
Jan 3, 2015, 4:03 PM
Santa Monica CA
Hello Scott —
Just a short note as I try to dig out from under a flurry of unanswered communications. (A lake-effect blizzard, more like.)
You can go ahead and destroy those letters, thanks. I used to keep such things, but reached a “tipping point.” (That’s good.)
Just like how at a certain point I surrendered to CDs, and kept only a few hundred precious LPs (never played since, in maybe 20 years), then again surrendered to MP3s, and kept only a few CDs, a few years back I surrendered to digital communication files, and burned or shredded all my old letters, in or out.
I just don’t care about all that anymore.
A quote from Buddy: “As Bird said, ‘Now’s the Time.”
Let me know if you plan to travel out this way for that interview — it would be fun to meet up here, show you around my “new life.”
Wishing you a great 2015!