April 7, 1980 Letter to Rockmore(NOLA) from Shirley(BRLA)
Good to see you. After the “Egg and I” left the Quarter it started to pour - on the causeway crossing Lake Ponchartrain. The lightening was incredible. A regular gotterdammerung of lightening but not much thunder. I was scared - but made it to Baton Rouge OK. Since I have seen you work with and without music - I rather suspect the high decibel of Heifetz was to cut off any lectures that seemed imminent.
I am concerned that you are not making an effort to take care of yourself. Not only because of my concern for you as a person, but also as a major talent. Longevity is something we prize in our greatest artists - in all fields - and I think it is because there is a need for what the mature artist - who has not only a deep wellspring of creativity but who at mid life is able to husband his/her strength and his/her creative sources at perhaps a different pace - has to tell us.
In answer to your question “So What?” - change is possible at mid life - particularly for one who has not held back from moving into a different creative mode. You once told me the importance for an artist to be able to move against the grain. I am sure that after the hospital ordeal you are physically and emotionally spent. The aftermath of the massive doses of tranquilizers you were given would be enough to depress and exhaust you for months. I am amazed at the will - as well as the superb skill to produce that marvelous portrait of the Old Man on the copper plate Sunday. Noel - give yourself a chance to heal. Your creativity will not dry up because both body and spirit must heal. You are in the big leagues, my friend - and what you have to say as a survivor and as a mature artist is needed.
If it is possible I would love to purchase that copper plate. At least give me first chance to see if I can meet the price.
Best to Rita. The sandwich sustained me on that awful drive back. She is a great girl and good for you. Control the demon(s) - that drive you, often vs your own real interests.
End of lecture -