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A Thought for Today

Life is worth living not so much for what it gives us as what it suggests.

 

The first day of a new month and like every new day it holds promise. Of course fulfilling that promise is up to each one of us. This is the first time in a long while that perhaps all of us collectively could use some distance from our recent past. Now might be a good time to remember that what tries to tear us apart as a people, a country or a world also helps bring us together in common grief, joy and purpose.

While taking care of ourselves, let’s not forget to look out for each other.

On to the Monday mail.

WITH LOVE FROM ENGLAND

Dear Rod, I first bought one of your books in the late 60's, and so began my great admiration for your work. My prize possession is a copy of Beyond the Boardwalk, which you signed for me in 1980, when visiting a radio station in Oxford, England, where I was living at the time.

The disc jockey who was interviewing you, was a friend of
mine, and. knowing how much your poetry meant to me, asked you to sign a copy for me. You signed it 'with love and appreciation' - of course, you didn't know me, but when I stumbled over your web site, I realized that it would give me the chance to send you MY love and appreciation in return. Over the years, and at different sad/happy times in my life, I have always turned to your books, and the comfort and pleasure which they have given me is immeasurable.

I am so glad to have the chance to tell you just how much I
have enjoyed your words - I have never found anything else which has touched me so much, or given me such comfort.

Enough of all that! I have never written a 'fan' letter before! I hope all is good in your life, and I thank you for listening to me. Also, in the sad events of what has happened in your country during the past weeks, I send you much love and respect from England, Anna Thomas

Dear Anna: I’m confident I speak for all Americans when I say how much each of us appreciates your kind words and support at this most difficult time in the history of our country.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been saddened, affected and changed by the events of September 11th. It’s times like these when we know who our real friends are. Almost since the revolutionary war the people of Great Britain have been our best friends and closest allies and I hope we never take that friendship for granted.

Speaking for myself, from my first visit to your great country I’ve always thought of it as a second home. I’ve long ago lost track of the number of times I’ve criss-crossed the British Isles performing and enjoying your friendly people and unique atmosphere.

A lot of my writing has been inspired by the time I’ve spent across the pond including the songs “The Green Hills of England,” “Everybody’s Rich But Us” and “London.” Poems I’ve written there include “A Newly Painted Bench,” “On the Way to Manchester". I wrote and recorded film scores like “Joanna” and “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” in England and I’ve laid down hundreds of tracks for both pop and classical collections with the aid of the great British musical community.

I have indelible memories of times spent in Scotland, Ireland and Wales and friends all over GB that I remain in touch with.

I’m glad you found “A Safe Place to Land” so that I could thank you. Luv, Rod

MUSIC FOR GUARDIAN ANGELS

I bought the above referenced CD last week. This is the singular most beautiful collection of music I have ever heard. I have always thought of you as genius but to call this collection mere genius is an underestimation of both you and the work. No matter how trying the day has been, I can put this CD on and within minutes I feel my spirit lifted and my mood lightened. Thank you so very much for this music! Ann Martin

Dear Rod: I listen to your CD “Music for Guardian Angels” every day on the way to and from work. I have to say it makes a nearly always crowded freeway a lot easier to put up with It should be required listening for anyone prone to Road Rage. Sincerely Warren Petruno

Dear Ann and Warren: I appreciate your comments and compliments. Creating Music for Guardian Angels was a labor of love. It contains instrumental music I’ve written over the years that, while unfamiliar to most people, is very close to me.

When the CD first came out it received no publicity but little by little word of mouth has made MFGA the current number three best-selling CD at Stanyan By Mail, just behind The Platinum Collection and The French Connection.

Here’s are the top selling discs, books & “stuff” for the month of September.

Compact Discs
1. The Platinum Collection (2 CD set)
2. The French Connection
3. Music for Guardian Angels
4. Beautiful Music to Love By (3 CD Box)
5. Beatsville
6. Listen to the Warm
7. McKuen at the Movies
8. Speaking of Love
9. Antonio Carlos Jobim: Some of the Best
10. Christmas Music for Guardian Angels

Hardback Books
1. A Safe Place to Land (Book & CD set)
2. And Autumn Came
3. An Outstretched Hand
4. The Power Bright and Shining
5. Intervals
6. A Man Alone
7. The Rod McKuen Datebook & Diary
8. Beyond the Boardwalk
9. Come to me In Silence
10. Fields of Wonder

Paperback Books
1. Hand in Hand
2. Love’s Been Good to Me
3. Seasons in the Sun
4. Alone
5. Looking for a Friend

Other “Stuff”
1. In Search of Eros (cassette
2. The Sea (LP)
3. Pastorale (LP)
4. Frank Sinatra: A Man Alone (LP)
5. Through European Windows (songbook)
6. McKuen & Pups poster
7. McKuen at Carnegie Hall poster
8. It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love T shirt
9. Rod McKuen Songbook Vol. 2
10. Rod McKuen Songbook Vol. 1

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times but “The Power Bright & Shining” was nowhere near the top ten until last week. Now it seems as if it’s included in every other order.

Thanks again to both of you for your words concerning “Music for Guardian Angels". With affection, Rod

Il YA A PARFOIS DE SOUVENIRS

I have been looking for this record which I cannot find. Is it part of an album? Does it have a different name in English and if so will it still be sung in French? On what label can I find it? Is this a new recording only available to the radio stations ?

Thank you for your help. CTS


Dear CTS: “Il Ya A Parfois De Souvenirs” is the French adaptation of “The World I Used to Know,” it’s available on my CD “The French Connection" (Stanyan/LazerLight 12 444) Now that my contract with LazerLight has ended what copies are left are only sold through Stanyan By Mail.

I get a lot of comments on that particular track, not just because it’s sung so beautifully by Eric Montry with a gorgeous orchestration by Raymond LaFevre but because it is kind of a “mystery track” on the disc. Let me explain; because of a mix-up in printing the song isn’t listed on the back of the CD and on the inside in the booklet it’s marked track 22 when it should be 23.

For the record here’s the correct rundown on “The French Connection.”

2. Solitude’s My Home
3. I Think of You
4. Paris
5. Nathalie
6. Je Viens de Loins
7. About the Time
8. Les Bourgeous
9. 8. If You Go Away
10. Soldiers Who Want to be Heroes
11. The Far West
12. To You
13. The far Side of the Hill
14. Where Would I Be
15. Les. Amants de Cour (The Lovers)
16. Blessings of the Day
17. I’ll Say Goodbye
18. La Mer Sans Soliel
19. Un Par Un (One by One)
20. My Brother Edward
21. Seasons in the Sun
22. Il Ya Parfois de Souvenirs (The World I Used to Know)
23. Without a Worry in the World (le Meteque)

The disc is unique in that in addition to my own vocals there are performances by Jacques Brel, Gilbert Becaud, Les Compagnons de La Chanson, The Swingle Singers and of course Eric Montry.

As you can see from the above list “The French Connection” is currently #2 on our best-selling disc list. All the best, Rod

AHOY, MATEY ANOTHER PIRATE ALBUM

Dear Rod, Many years ago, I had a four album set with you saying poetry in between some very lovely songs by all kinds of singers. One of the albums was called "Climax" and I think another was "Seduction". Do you remember it. If so, could
you give me the complete name of it and maybe let me know where I can get it if it is still available.

I was in the Navy during Vietnam, and believe me, it really
helped get me through some really bad times. Thanks for the
memories, Gary Glass


Dear Gary: I had forgotten all about the LP’s you mentioned until your letter arrived. This is one of the most brazen pirate jobs in recording history and resulted in no less than 11 lawsuits. The trouble is no one could track down the perpetrators of this dubious project and it went off the market almost as quickly as it arrived.

After two hours of looking through my collection I finally tracked down all four LP’s. The umbrella title was “Love Music” and the titles of the individual albums were “Seduction,” “Foreplay,” “Passion” and “Climax.” In addition to appropriating 7 tracks of mine they purloined 5 by Sinatra and Andy Williams, 4 by Henry Mancini, 3 by Tony Bennett and one or two each by Dionne Warwick, Shirley Bassey, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Shelby Flint, John Gary and a dozen or so other artists. Each LP had 16 or 17 tracks.

The albums were released in 1973 and there were no liner notes and the only source credit listed was ‘Economic Consultants Inc.’ I have no idea what this set would be worth if you could find one today, but it is truly a collectors item since none of the artists or record labels involved gave permission for use their copyrighted tracks.

The whole project was such an outrageous rip-off that I found it more of a hoot than an insult. Glad you enjoyed it, Gary, but good luck at laying your hands on it again. Though, after your letter I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned up on E-bay in a week or so. Warmly, Rod

I’LL SAY GOODBYE

Dear Rod, When I was in 8th grade (a long time ago), my teacher had several books of your poetry. The poem that I selected was "I'll say goodbye". I have always loved that poem and have a lot of it memorized, but I would like to find the book. Can you please tell me which book it was in and where I might get a copy of it?

"Heavy is the heart that has to turn and say goodbye
but as we love so do we learn, I'll say goodbye.
Cage a bird he cannot sing
I can't be caged in by a ring,
So as the chilly wind is blowing, I'll say goodbye."

This is one part that I think I remember. I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Dawn Brooks


Dear Dawn: “I’ll Say Goodbye” is a song I wrote with Gilbert Becaud. The lyrics are printed in “Listen to the Warm,” words and music are both in the songbook “Through European Windows” and there is a recording of it on the CD “The French Connection.” All the best, Rod

YOU ARE WELCOME

G'day Rod, This is not a question, query or anything like that ..... it's a thank you so much for giving us all a Safe Place to Land, where I can take a few minutes off from an excessively overloaded stressful job to breathe in the peace and quiet of your magic words.

You probably have no idea what a gift your poetry is to my weary mind and spirit. Thank you so much. Susan Irons


Dear Susan: Glad you found this site and I hope you spread the word about it. The whole point of “A Safe Place to Land” is just what the title suggests. It’s meant to be a refuge from noise and stress. Luv, Rod

ROCK GENTLY

Dear Rod; Could you please tell me what poem of yours this lyric is from? Also, is a copy of it available? Thanks for your time! Ronald L. Beuter

Dear Ronald: “Rock Gently” is a song lyric and the words to it are printed in the book “New Ballads.” You can hear what the song sounds like on the CD set “The Platinum Collection". Cheers, Rod

HERE’S TO YOU MRS. ROBERTSON

Mrs. Robertson is a patient of mine and I do not remember how I mentioned you to her. She has 2 CD’s of yours “Greatest Hits, 1” and “Greatest Hits, 2. Unfortunately Vol., 1 is horribly scratched. Please send me pro-forma on vol.1. Thanks, Dr. Arthur Goldstein, Monaco

Dear Dr. Goldstein (Arthur): Alas both CD’s are now out of print so I can’t help you. Your best bet might be to post a message on the Rod McKuen Message Board or the Stanyan Message Center. Some very nice people visit these sites on a daily basis and you might get one of them to make you a tape copy or burn you a CD of Vol., 1. I hope this helps. My kindest regards to you and Mrs. Robertson. Sincerely, Rod

MARK STEVENS

Hi! Rod, Is Mark Stevens (one of your band members) related to the Mark Stevens that I remember from growing up? Jane

Dear Jane, Nope. Mark says he never been to Alameda. Cheers, Rod

DOESN’T ANYBODY KNOW MY NAME

Dear Mr. McKuen, I identify with this song because I left my hometown in Ontario when I was 17 to join the service. I don't get back too often and I don't see many people I remember from then, it was in 1966 that I left.

It also seems to be a bit of a protest song for that tragic war. I just bought your Carnegie Hall songbook through ebay and for the first time realized that the song was published in 1962, the Vietnam War was just starting. You could not have realized that it would go on for another 10 years. Did your Army service influence you in the writing? It has been a favorite since I owned the Jimmie Rodgers LP many years ago. It is a great but sad song. Love your work. Glen in Nova Scotia


Dear Glen: Yes, my service in Korea certainly contributed to my writing “Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name,” also known as “2:10-6:18” The song was Hank Williams JR’s first single but Jimmie Rodgers had the hit and his version remains my favorite. Jimmie has his own theatre and performs nightly in Branson.

While the song wasn’t written about any particular war, over the years it has become associated with the Vietnam conflict. I’m pleased that you like “Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name,” Glenn, it’s from a very productive time in my songwriting life. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Kingston Trio’s version too, since it was the first of a number of my songs they recorded. With all the best, Rod

SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST

Hey, Rod,, Still planning on releasing " Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most"? Would love to hear your version. John.

Dear John: I’ll be making a new recording of “Spring Can Really Hang you Up the Most” before the year is out, it’s part of an album I’m calling project X. No release date is scheduled, let’s just say it’s in the pipeline. As ever, Rod

THE FINAL WORD

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch."
-Jack Nicholson


I’ll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on the third anniversary of 9/11. Sleep warm.

RM 9/30/01

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Julie Andrews o Tom Bosley o Sylvanio Bussotti o Rod Carew o Jimmy Carter o Stephen Collins o Richard Harris o Laurence Harvey o Donny Hathaway o Alan Hillesheim o Stanley Holloway o Vladimir Horowitz o Walter Matthau o Mark McGwire o Scott McKenzie o Essai Morales o Max Morath o George Peppard o Randy Quaid o William Rehnquist o John Shopp o Everett H. Sloane o Stella Stevens o Jay Underwood o Louis Untermeyer o Edward Villella o James Whitmore o Roger Williams o Sam Yorty
Rod's random thoughts As animals should not be caged so love cannot be legalized or legislated. It must be able to run free.

The only thing we own without condition is experience.

To pretend that you love someone is to cheat yourself as much as him.

THROUGH THE FIELD

I walked home through the field alone
looking at the row on row
              of dead cornstalks
                 frightened by the frost
arrested by the first long breath of autumn.
And I felt a little older
                   but without new knowledge.
Passing through the now past summer
                       I’ve learned nothing.

True, I’ve memorized your thighs
your burnt brown breasts
                  your eyes, your eyes
but you were busy memorizing
                             other people’s hands
the kindness of their summer crotches
the sounding of their sighs
so without attending your same school
you as pupil and as teacher too
I came into the autumn knowing nothing new.
                              Bend to me
this first long autumn night
       or let me bend to you.
Everything and nothing
            has passed between us
and tomorrow I’ll pass by again
through frosted fields
where even pumpkins
  now detach themselves
            from dead and dying vines.

Goodbye is not the word.
               Autumn says it all
for autumn detaches itself
first from summer, then winter,
autumn is the signpost for the leaving,
                         autumn says it all.

-from “Autumn / The Seasons” album, 1973 & “The 1975 Rod McKuen Animal Concern Calendar.

 
© 1973, 1975, 1985, 1991, 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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