A Thought for Today
If love hasn't given you wings, do not expect to fly.
We don't hear from my Aussie
friend Ken Ball as often as we'd like, but when we do he always has
something interesting to share.
When Rod returned to the concert stage last month, many of us "older" overseas fans wished we could have been there. I know you, sitting in South Africa, played his "Sold Out" CD and felt as if you were in the front row witnessing Rod's return. I sat in my library in Australia and gazed at a shelf of McKuen books and felt transported over the Pacific Ocean and seated next to you watching Rod walk back onto stage.
The experience took me back to the first and last time I have been to a McKuen concert. Rod and I had communicated by snail mail (as it was then!) for a decade before we actually met. I was back in Australia between stints in Hong Kong on
1st November 1980 and Rod was playing at the Twin Towns Services Club, on the NSW/Queensland border. I was determined to see the
show, and even more determined to meet Rod personally. As I went to buy tickets for myself and parents (who were visiting at the time) I pondered schemes of how to actually meet Rod. If Rod had been female, a bouquet of red roses may have created the opportunity. Ah...how about a bouquet of good Australian red wine, I thought. I convinced the club manager to leave the wine backstage for Rod before the show.
courtesy Ken Ball
As the show got underway, I reached for my camera and (despite the rules against photography!) managed to sneak two frames. This one is, I think,
classic McKuen .... from the expression and gesture to the jeans and sneakers. It is the man himself doing what he did best way back then, and is doing again now 21 years later.
After the show, his musical director Arthur Greenslade took us backstage to meet Rod and the experience for me was the same as his audiences last month
reported ... Rod ever gracious and seemingly with all the time in the world to chat and pose for photographs. For me, he sketched a vase of flowers and the message "with love and then some".
Next day I was working in my office when my phone rang. A female colleague took the call . I heard her say "and who is it calling please"? She then screamed out that four letter word and dropped the phone to the floor. I didn't know that she, too, was a Rod McKuen fan!
As far as a favorite song is concerned, no hesitation in saying it's the Port of Amsterdam. It's a great song on disc, but to hear Rod sing it on stage adds a whole new dimension. I recall being as breathless as he appeared to be at the end of it!!
Thanks for an
interesting story and a great pic, Ken.
I have to
agree with you that "Amsterdam" is an enormously powerful song,
one which falls firmly into the category 'showstopper'. A few years ago I
had the privilege of attending the opening night of a local show "Brel",
staged by one of our most talented artists, Daniele Pascal. Daniele, a
huge McKuen fan by the way, included all the expected Brel numbers on the
program but really brought the house down with her rendition of this song.
A close second
for power and emotion must be "Come Jeff", one of my all-time
favorite McKuen/Brel collaborations and a real tear-jerker if ever I've
Thanks for the
letter, Ken, and don't be such a stranger to our Wednesday get together.
Alexandra has a birthday coming up soon so wish her a premature
"Happy 10th Birthday" from the old guy in South Africa.
If you have a
favorite McKuen song or poem you'd like to share, drop me a line at email@example.com
and I'll make sure it's featured here one Wednesday.
Ken, Johannesburg, April 4
Summer concert just announced!
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