16 December, 1999











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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Who is not a love seeker when December comes, even children pray to Santa Clause.



Now and again I get a note from Jay Hagan saying that what people really want to read in my daily Flight Plan is what I’m doing at the moment. Lots of other letter writers send variations of the same thing.

I find my personal life pretty dull. I work too hard and I hardly play at all anymore. Romance is up or down or not at all. Let’s be honest, who wants to be involved with anyone who out of habit will always be more involved with his work that he probably ever can be with you?

For better or worse I live with an anal retentive neatnick and any organizational skills I have come out of being disorganized. Together we make “The Odd Couple” seem like The von Trapp Family. Trust me, life in our Southern California house is no TV sitcom.

But here goes and remember you asked for it. Don’t blame me if it’s boring. What did I do today? After opening a couple of parcels Wade sent me from back east I wrote him the following letter, which pretty much says it all.

December 14, 1999

Dear Wade,

So FedEx delivers these three glorious ego-boosting items just when I need a little help. (Haven't been out of the house for a couple of weeks and work is mounting; Edward & I have had a spat that has lasted one full week - as of today that shows no sign of stopping any time soon & you could only cut the tension around the house with a very heavy cleaver; no Christmas spirit of any kind and the thought of driving myself to the Mac to write yet another Flight Plan is far from appetizing. Well, you get the picture.)

So which to open first. The CD with the neat cover showing five fresh looking young men collectively called Westlife which contains one of my songs; The new book "Sessions with Sinatra" that drops my name a couple of times or the annual Christmas card from The White House. Each in its own way a kind of pat on the back. You know, as if to say, “You’re not as bad as you think you are.”

How is it you always manage to send the right things at the right time? Including, but not confined to thoughtful mystery parcels that once opened lift big weights off tired shoulders. Naturally reminding me of all the years we worked side by side and I counted on the support from you that was always there.

I liked Westlife's version of "Seasons in the Sun," their approach was thoughtful and the arrangement didn't fall back on any of the clichés that have unfortunately become associated with many versions of the song. I listened to some of the other tracks on the disc and the guys are good too. How refreshing to find a new 'boy band' that seems original even to the extent of devoting an entire album to ballads.

"Sessions with Sinatra" is an important book. Aside from the obvious, it is very much a work about recording in General. It traces techniques from cylinder to CD. There is a history of studios, including some of our favorites (Western & United, for instance) There's interesting information on owners and layouts of studios, engineers, producers, and an absorbing dictionary of microphones that certainly brought back a lot of memories. Acoustic, electrical and finally digital recording is all discussed and always with the backdrop of Sinatra sessions - from RCA to Reprise and back again to Capitol - woven into a very serious work. It's easy reading while being intelligent and intellectual. Everyone who's ever made a recording should have it and anyone who ever wondered how recordings were made should read it.

This year’s card from President & Mrs. Clinton is a snowy watercolor view of the North Portico of The White House with wreaths at lighted windows, by American artist Ray Ellis. The message underneath the presidential seal on the inside reads

"Our family wishes you and yours a blessed holiday season
filled with treasured memories of past traditions and joy and peace in the new millennium."

It's signed Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's a reminder that there will only be one more Christmas card from President Clinton's White House.

Yes, Wade, your parcels and the forwarded card were a timely and great success.

The day didn't pass without a few smiles. Yesterday Dwight came by to pick up some product for Stanyan and stayed for dinner. Today I got the following e-mail:

"I'm wearing my nuclear suit, just protecting myself from atomic fall out ...the radiation level was very high over there yesterday ... should I send in a team of scientists? I know people at NASA.Com :) Love, Dwight."

I know, I know, after all these years I should know and remember "I'm sorry" is not in E.'s lexicon. Thanks again. Love, Rod

Two days ago Westlife’s version of “Seasons in the Sun” was released in London as a single. According to friends in Great Britain enough copies may have been pre-sold & shipped to guarantee it a place on the charts next week. Hope you’ll keep me posted as to what happens.

- RM 12/15/99 Previously unpublished

notable birthdays Tracy Austin o Dan Butler o Maria Callas o Dennis Christopher o Cathy Lee Crosby o Milton DeLugg o Ric Felix o Nellie Furtado o Hy Gardner o Adolph Green o Alexander Haig o Julie Harris o David W. Hearst o Randolph Hearst o Frank Israel o Lucy Liu o Michael McDonald o Stone Phillips o Charles Ringling o Monica Seles o George Seurat o Britney Spears o Rena Sofer o Gianni Versace
Rod's random thoughts There are no wise men, only men who go on gaining wisdom by staying alert and being open.

The supply of love will never exceed the demand, but it should.

Prayer is a handshake with hope.

The 1981 Christmas Card

       To each woman
and each man
who live and run
on God’s green ground
all birds that float
within His perfect sky
and every creature
scrambling, standing, loping,
on or deep within His earth –
and out upon his many seas,
a wish for their protection
     for still another year.

And each to each
within their circle
                 and their species
love enough to see them through
their deepest darkest nights.

Printed privately, 1981. Previously unpublished in any book. First publication in Flight Plan 12/16/1999
© 1980, 1981, 1999, 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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