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Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

All life is imagery, but imagery is seldom life.



This afternoon I'm off to a 4:30 sound check and a 7:PM dress rehearsal of "Kern's "Life Upon the Wicked Stage." Tomorrow is opening night for this three performance only show I've grown to love a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you West Coasters there. 


Good Morning Rod, I got a pirated copy of Lonesome Cities in the mail today. It is slightly smaller that the original and the paper it is printed on is very thin. The dust cover is the same but the color register is slight off... just a little darker. There is some Chinese / Japanese? writing on the copyright page. Jay 

Dear Jay, The pirate books are terrific. They were all produced in the orient during the Vietnam War & sold millions. In many cases they appeared just days after the official United States release. None of the British editions seem to have been pirated.

Here's what I know of that's out there. I have copies of each but am longing for some of the pirates I may not know of & so don't have. All of the books seem to be uniform in size (about one inch shorter than the authorized editions & missing about half an inch in width. Text is complete in all of them (including copyright notices)

All say First Printing and must have been copied from such, with the exception of Stanyan Street (9th), Caught in the Quiet (5th), Listen to the Warm & With Love (no print history included). Dust jackets range from not too bad (Listen to the Warm & In Someone's Shadow) to washed out and way off the mark (Stanyan Street & And to Each Season)

o And to Each Season 
o With Love
o Listen to the Warm
o Caught in the Quiet
o Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows
o In Someone's Shadow
o Twelve Years of Christmas
o The Carols of Christmas
o Lonesome Cities (without dust jacket) 

I got my copies from GI's who sent them to me for autographing. I would, when I didn't already own the pirate, exchange them for boxed first Editions (with their permission, of course). Glad you've managed to get one, they are fun to have.

If the pirate editions allowed GI's to get their hands on my books easier, that's just fine with me. I'm told some were even sold in PX's.

Have a splendid water over stones week. luv, Rod


Rod, It has been some time since I talked with you on the phone. I hope all is well, I would like to thank you for signing those 12 albums I had ordered from Dwight. I had asked him to see if you would sign one or two, well I was really surprised when I opened the box and found you had signed them all. That took be back to the time you had signed all those records for me at Andrews condo in Denver.

I bought my first Rod recording when I was 13, I remember listening to "loves been good to me" so many times it drove my parents crazy, now I am 46 and I drive my wife crazy listening to you. I love the poetry of course. But the music is what really moves me, like food for my soul, it has shaped the way I look at the world today, of course I grew up a major Beatles fan, loved rock and roll, but I also enjoyed musicals and big band music and of course your music, and lyrics. 

I like to sit back and listen and think, close my eyes and go there. I do believe that your music and books have had more impact on my life than any other writer composer out there, though I am sure you have heard that from a lot of others over the years.

I feel I owe you a major thank you, I have a wife of 29 years, two kids. One named after Andrew Dolan, your writings and your wisdom helped me make it this far, and I am sure they will provoke the thoughts and ideas that will get me through the second half of my life as well, I look forward to that.

I hope to attend the concert here March 10th, it has been some time since I have seen you perform, Red Rocks in the rain, the Denver Theater, were some of my favorite shows. I am sure Chicago will be as exciting, I hope you record it. You do need another 10 or so CD's on the market, I know I need them, as well and thousands of others. Thanks for everything Rod, and to quote you! Sleep Warm, Mark Thompson

PS I am going to attach a photo of one of the dogs, if you could tell me the dogs name I would be so grateful.

Dear Mark, I love hearing from old friends. The Net is a great beacon for bringing people who've lost touch with each other back together. It's great being brought up to date on where you are now. 29 years of marriage. Wow. I don't envy your poor wife and before that your mom being driven to distraction by the playing of Rod McKuen records. With my mom it was the insistent replay of Jeri Southern's "You Better Go Now" that nearly got me kicked out of the house.

I'm always happy when people order LP's from Stanyan. I still love the feel of a long-playing album in my hands and the warm sound it gives off. While it's hard to deny the convenience and storage capabilities of the compact disc, a long period of listening to CD's isn't as easy on the ears as the sound coming from an LP.

I'm glad you're coming to Aurora. I have no idea what the sales figures are but I doubt that with all the years between my last concert and these March offerings that we'll have the old sold out houses. I can only hope so. 

It thrills me to know that so many people from around the country and around the world are planning to attend. Now if we can just drum up some of Chicago's citizenry to fill out the rest of the house. There are lots of new CD's on the way out.

Boy, do I have fond recollections of the night it rained and thundered so heavily and loudly at Red Rocks. I remember telling the audience, "If you stay, I'll stay." I did and they did. It turned out to be a great experience. 

That beautiful dog in the photograph is "Old Boot". I named him after a character in a British comic strip called The Perishers. I bought the strip and tried to rewrite and relaunch it here in the USA under the title "Old Boot." I was into everything in those days and I reckon I didn't spend enough time on placing it with a syndicate here. We did get a book out of it, though. Maybe we'll feature some of those strips on the new Stanyan House Web Site. With luck and a lot of work Stanyan House should finally go up this year.

Old Boot was a magnificent representative of the Bob Tail species, every bit as dumb and sweet as all OES's. Well, maybe a bit dumber and a lot sweeter. 

Take care Mark, my love to you and your family & thanks for touching base. Rod


Dear Rod, I was wondering if your album, Very Warm, has been reissued as a CD. While these songs are from your early period they are wonderful. I especially like one that you did not write, The Ballad of the Sad Young Men.

I remember from one of your concerts that you indicated the author of this song wrote another song Spring can really Hang you Up the Most. I have an Ella Fitzgerald recording of this song but can you tell me who, besides yourself, has recorded The Ballad of the Sad Young Men. 

Thanks for the web page. I was so glad to hear that you are returning to concerts. I do hope that you will eventually give an East Coast concert. Until then thanks for years of great music and poetry. Tony

Dear Tony, The songs that made up the album "Very Warm" were taken from a number of different sources, including two albums, singles and unreleased sides. It was another one of those instances where when an artist leaves a record label, that label scrounges around to put together a 'new collection' that isn't really new at all. Usually it's an attempt to take advantage of something associated with the artist that is currently successful. In this instance it was Decca/MCA trying to cash in on the success of the "Listen to the Warm" book and album issued by Random House and RCA respectively.

No, that album won't re re-released because I now control the masters. The good news is that the album it was originally taken from "Alone After Dark" will be reissued this year coupled with another from the period "Stranger in Town" on a single CD (25 tracks). My recording of "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" taken from "Back to Carnegie Hall" is currently available on the CD "Early Harvest" from Stanyan by Mail. Another version will a be featured on the 2 CD set "Rod at the Grand Opry", another 2001 release.

Since I first introduced the beautiful and introspective Fran Landesman, Tommy Wolf song "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" back in the fifties, it has become a jazz standard. My favorite recording of it (other than my own, of course) is by Anita O'Day and it's available on Verve 543 600 "Anita O'Day's Finest Hour."

Tommy and Fran were a great team, they wrote the Broadway musical "The Nervous Set," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most," and several intelligent songs just waiting to be hits. Alas, Tommy Wolf died very young and Fran became an expatriate making her home in London. I met her there in the 1960's.

For over a year I've been looking around the house for a book Fran autographed for me that contains some lyrics I'm very partial to. After searching every room in the house without success I was beginning to think it was gone for good. Then, last week, my friend Melinda Smith wrote to tell me she had come across the book on the net, bid on it and won. What's more she was presenting it to me as a gift.

I have no idea how it got out of the house and found its way to an auction, but thanks to Melinda's eagle eye it's coming home. Sorry for the digression, Tony, but these are two of my favorite writers and I had to crow a bit about the unexpected homecoming of something beyond value . . . from a friend of the same ilk. Thanks for writing, warmly Rod.


Would you give the names of the places that are most likely to sell the majority of your works (anything by you :)? I will mail order if I have to, I live in Southern California. Thank you sooooo much! JY

Dear JY, Stanyan By Mail is the only place that has nearly everything I've done; there's a link to it from the front page of this site. If Dwight can't find it, nobody can. Since you live in Southern California, come by Thousand Oaks for the concert a week from tonight and pick up a T-Shirt and a copy of the new book and Double CD Set "A Safe Place to Land," It's the only place you can get it until mid-April. They'll also be selling the "Listen to the Warm" CD and The Platinum Collection CD set. All the best, Rod


"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." President George Bush, touting his education - reform plans. Source; Time, Newsweek, NBC, CNN

Of course some of us are still boning up on our literacy skills while we await that test.

Tomorrow, as the week ends, it's time for Pass it Along. Sleep warm.

                                                   RM 2/28/2001

Details of Rod's upcoming concerts and appearances can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays


Jensen Ackles o Catherine Bach o Harry Belafonte o Dirk Benedict o Harry Caray o Frederic Chopin o Robert Clary o Robert Conrad o Roger Daltry o Timothy Daly o Ralph Ellison o Mark-Paul Gosselaar o Joan Hackett o Ron Howard o Richard Dean Howells o Nik Kershaw o Robert Lowell o Glenn Miller o David Niven o Pete Rozelle o Raymond St. Jacques o Dinah Shore o Deke Slayton o Lytton Strachey o Alan Thicke

Rod's random thoughts We are not born to sorrow; we invent it.

Slander is the coward's bible.

Exaggeration is a poor magician.


I cannot get enough
          of lit-up mornings,
birds shaking mist from low tree branches,
the early sky being shaved by clouds.
The hedgehog grumbling
                     back to darkness
is known by me and loved by me.

Then settling in and moving fast
mid-morning turns the cats to clowns
as round they spin
                        in the butterfly chase,
tails twitching above the reeds.
Gotcha! No, the quarry's gone.
Cats lose interest long before noon
even when low birds dive and tease.

Two to four in all its splendor
          renders description worthless.
The mirth of the moment
                        moves to laughter
after the bell sounds five.
All, in a hurry, are off to the sunset
that trims the edge of house and hill.
Night is part of necessity's reach
for something a little more gentle.
Sentiment swings both low and high
and makes its practitioner
                           act without question,
to question his actions later.
The greater the darkness
                       the harder the loss
and music costs more with the passing hour.

There will never be too many
                        lit-up mornings
when life does its sorting,
              makes its decisions
and even the hedgehog knows his limits.
All of the sunrise people then
are busily counting, recounting,
                   shuffling schedules,
knowing there will never be quite enough
heartbreaking, slow-moving, lit-up mornings.

-from "Valentines," 1986
1975, 1986, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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