2nd & 3rd April, 2005
Rod in “The Best is Yet to Come” 11/6/04
Photo by Shira Greenburg ©2004 by Broadway.com. Used by Permission
A Thought for Today
Age teaches you to avoid ink and fill out
your address book in pencil.
SOME WORDS ABOUT WORDS
The other day as I was browsing through new e-mails I came upon the
Dear Rod, I can't believe it never occurred to me
to look, but I've found you, and duh, an internet search was so easy! I
discovered your work back in the early 1970's as a teenager and only
have one of your books, Lonesome Cities, which I've been reading today.
I have always carried this poem in my head that I believe you wrote, but
I have no idea in what publication or the title, etc.
It states, "It doesn't matter who you love, or how you love, but that
you love. For in the end the act of loving anyone is the act of loving
God." Did you write that? Where would I find it in print? Those words
have sustained me over the years in validating myself and in trying to
teach others about the universality of love. I will certainly update my
collection of your work from your website.
Thank you for being, and for your work. I lived in San Francisco for 11
years in the 80's; I loved to sit at the edge of Golden Gate Park at
Stanyan and Haight Streets and imagine that you had in fact been right
there somewhere nearby at some point in time living your life. Now I
live in Carson City, NV, and I just re-read in the back of Lonesome
Cities that you had also lived in NV. May I ask where in NV?
It is my dream to someday see you live and hear you speak your words. I
will check your performance schedule. Most sincerely, Nancy
Dear Nancy, the line “It doesn’t matter who you love or how you love but
that you love” has quite a history and this is the first time I have
ever addressed it.
The line was born in the 1960’s. I used it as a tossed off comment at
the end of my concerts but it seemed to take on a life of its own. The
first time I saw it quoted in print was in an essay in The New York
Times regarding the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. The essay
advocating Gay Rights offered something to the effect that “even poet
Rod McKuen has said, “It doesn’t matter . . .”
The 60’s were a time of turmoil on many fronts in our country. Every
night the Vietnam War played out on our television screens, women were
demanding a better shake at work and in society and we all worked hard
to try and get our elected officials to pass the ERA amendment.
Despite the peaceful marches and protests of the 1950’s and the
pioneering work of a new breed of heroes Black and White, African
Americans were slow to receive equality in Southern America.
My ‘throw away’ line began popping up on T Shirts and both Peter Max and
Sister Coretta did posters quoting it. It continues to draw attention so
that it’s now up there with another phrase I coined, “Make Love Not
War.” If I had to be remembered for a single line I would prefer the
former to the latter.
Funny thing about lines that become slogans, both Time and Newsweek used
“Gun’s don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.” And, they did
credit me. Both pro & anti gun movements latched on to it as a slogan.
Explain that one to me. And I wish I had a royalty for every time a
magazine, periodical, promotional flyer or whatever used “Seasons in the
Sun” to capture the summer or advertise a sale.
The first time I used “It doesn’t matter . . .” in one of my books I
added a second line in order to elaborate on the thought a bit and
finally by 1977 when “Hand in Hand” was published it became a proper
poem of three stanzas and a title, Creed. Here it is.
It doesn’t matter
who you love
or how you love
but that you love.
For in the end
The act of loving anyone
is the act of loving God.
The good in men
is all the God there is
and loving is a contribution
to that good
and to that only God.
© 1961, 1969, 1980 by Rod McKuen &
The Stanyan Music Group. Copyright Renewed.
As far as I’m concerned “Creed” is aptly named. It is a philosophy I try
to live by. Despite the word God appearing in it three different times,
it is far from a religious poem or tract. God, in this case, is a
euphemism for the higher aims in all of us. Nor is it anti religion. The
point of poetry is that it can provide different meanings to different
people without making an effort to do so. A poem consists of what you
bring to it. If it confirms, makes clear or elaborates on your own
beliefs and experiences you walk away from it satisfied. If it doesn’t
you turn the page or close the book.
I don’t like losing an hour this Sunday night any more than you do but
think positively. Remember the old adage spring forward and fall back .
. . well in only 210 days you gain that hour back.
Sleep warm and join me on Monday for a new edition of Ask Rod.
RM 3/30/2005 7:56PM PDST
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