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A Thought for Today
Plant something in a friend’s garden.
Even if it’s only a new idea.
Good Monday morning. I hope
you had some refreshment over the weekend and better still that you feel
refreshed for the week ahead. On to the mail.
JULIE ANDREWS’ FACE
McKuen, I am not sure if you ever comment on particular lines of your
poems but here goes! This work is one of my greatest favorites of yours
and I enjoy reading it myself and, from the same book, both reading and
listening to a recording of you reading, The Art of Catching Trains.
What I have always wondered is this ... 'Three' is one of the most
fabulous love poems every written. It is whimsical yet visceral. It is
delicate yet crude. What made you place such a devastating last sentence
on this piece?
"I've yet to think of last week's friend or Julie Andrews' face."
Yours respectfully, Simon Allen, Herts, United Kingdom
Dear Simon, From the time I start a poem until it is finished it seems to
take on a life of its own. Often it feels as if the poem is writing me.
I fanaticize about a lot of things and long before I met her and we became
not close but pretty good friends and mutual admirers, Julie Andrews was a
fantasy figure to me.
The “San Francisco Morning” poems are very personal and I suppose I was
trying to say that while the mind is given to its wanderings, once it
fixates on something special outer thoughts and musings cease. Does that
make any sense to you?
I find it very difficult to explain a poem, account for its meaning and
impossible to describe the process that produces a particular work.
For me, poems happen – sometimes they come easily and often writing a
single sentence or verse is as heavy and hard as any manual labor I’ve
ever been involved in.
Considering what has come before it, the Julie Andrews line is indeed
devastating, but the poem is what it is. Warmly, Rod
ROD & JERRY HERMAN: ANOTHER APPEARANCE
Rod: I can't keep up with you--Ann has been keeping me abreast of your
schedule. We are so happy for you AND US with all these new Concerts. It
was about one year ago that Dave and I first met you -- I can't believe
how wonderful it has been. Please, Please when is that Fall Jerry Herman
concert? I am saving my pennies for it. And dreaming of hearing your voice
once more. Much love and happiness to you. Nan
Dear Nan, Sorry It’s taken a while for me to get back to you with “The
Salute to Jerry Herman” Concert date, but I finally have it. It takes
place at the Luckman theatre in Los Angeles (where we met last year) on
Saturday Evening November 10th. So far the other guest performers include
Jane Oliver, Carol Chaining, Susan Johnson, Brian Green & Leroy Reims with
a lot more names to be announced.
Of course David Galligan is producing and directing again with Ron Ables
conducting the orchestra. To have been able to sing “Look For the Silver
Lining” at a Jerome Kern tribute, then “September Song” at the Kurt Weill
Centenary and now be involved with a Jerry Herman salute would be special
to any performer, but it sends me over the moon. Jerry is an old friend
and to sing one of his major songs (and I do mean major) with him in the
audience is, well let’s just say very special indeed.
Thanks Nan for being so patient while I tried to discern the date. As
usual as soon as I know more about the ticket availability, Ken will post
it. Luv, as ever. Rod
It was great meeting you at our ‘51 50 year reunion in San Ramon! Thank
you so much for your book and CDs, I've really enjoyed them. I don't know
if you ever heard me play the violin. I always got to play for assemblies
and was concertmaster of the orchestra.
I Was also soloist with the Oakland Symphony in our senior year. Jim
Lieberman and I had a trio (with various pianists). That started my love
for chamber music which is about all I have played for the last 40 years.
So, the question is: Where do I find your piano trios and quartets?
Wouldn't it be a kick for your works to be performed by classmates 50+
years later? Love, Doralyn (Parkins) Poirier
Dear Doralyn, Not only do I remember you from our days at Tech but I was
disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to speak with you or Jim at
greater length during the reunion. I remember you playing solo at
assemblies and that even you gave your instrument a sweet tone. I never
realized you were concertmaster of the orchestra or that you played with
the Oakland Symphony.
With so many arts programs having been cut from today’s schools it’s
almost astonishing to remember that at Tech we had a fine orchestra and
drawn from that a good marching band. We had a pretty versatile choir too
and a drama department run by an often quirky (aren’t all drama teachers a
little off the wall?) but very committed instructor who inspired all of us
in her class.
I can’t imagine anything nicer than hearing my trios and quartets played
by you and Jim & the pianist and reed player of your choice. In fact, if
you end up liking them enough to learn them I’d even consider recording
them with you. Every good musician deserves to be recorded. What a thrill
it would be to have my music come full circle with my classmates.
I like very much the recordings made by The Rachmaninoff Trio of the trios
and quartets and they are scheduled to come out on CD coupled with my
Piano Concerto #1, Birch Trees (for piano & Orchestra,) several of my
sonatas, and "Night" from my Cantata "The City." They’ll be on a 2 CD set
entitled "Piano Works."
I was driven to listening to and then composing classical music when I
found myself unable to get much from popular music after it took a turn my
ears objected to. In the beginning I was drawn to large-scale works but
like you ended up appreciating chamber music because of its intimacy and
the interplay (very conversational) between just a few instruments with no
The Trios and quartets have not been published but there’s no reason I
couldn’t dig out the parts from my music library and get them copied for
you. I'll send you my phone number and lets talk about it.
I want to write more chamber works and since my classical music seems to
be played more often and most of my commissions come from there, I suppose
I’ll have to turn to overseas sources to continue composing music in a
I’m pleased you like the new book and CD’s. When I was scoring the CD’s I
turned to some of my classical compositions so try listening again
carefully & you’ll hear several of the trios in the mix.
Thanks for an inspiring letter. As a man known better for his poetry and
popular songs I need the encouragement a letter like yours provides to
keep my enthusiasm for formal writing moving forward. Luv, Rod.
THE FISHERMAN IN BLUE
probably going to be flooded with requests, so let me add my name to the
list - any way you can scan a picture in one of your flight plans of the
Fisherman in Blue? I loved that piece and would love to see for myself one
of your inspirations. Deb
Dear Deb, The Blue Fisherman has followed me from house to house over the
years but has never made known his intentions to be photographed or
scanned. I think I’ll pass on this request, but thanks for asking all the
same. As ever, Rod
majority of your work from past experience or mere ponderings? You're the
Dear RU, Thanks for the compliment. No poem ever comes along the same road
as the last one did. Every writer combines reality and inspiration in
different measure at different times. For instance tomorrow’s Flight Plan
closes with the opening poem from “The Sea Around Me,” written in 1976. It
is a long and very honest account of a summer I spent in Santa Monica 20
years before. It is accurate enough to be reportage and 43 years later it
is as vivid to me as when it happened. All of my poems are not as accurate
in their detail as this one is, but each springs from an element of truth
or they wouldn’t connect as often with others as I’m told they do. Best
Regards, Rod. PS: Great handle.
IN SEARCH OF EROS
been trying for a long time to get "In Search of Eros" on tape and compact
disk. Everyone is out of stock and I am sure that I am not the only one in
need. Could you possibly advise me where I can get a copy? Respectfully,
Dear MJ, “In Search of Eros” is available on cassette from
Stanyan By Mail, but there’s
no CD of it yet. All the best, Rod
THE FINAL WORD
This was written by Frederick
Earl Gary and submitted by
THE TRUTH IN 13 WORDS
older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.
Two more valuable and talented
people have left us.
Arlene Francis and I go way back to the 1950’s. We met when she was a
panelist on a quiz show and I was a contestant. In later years we became
close friends. She was one of the six people Frank Sinatra invited to hear
my demo of “A Man Alone" the night I first played it for him. She told
Frank, “I want the first copy when it’s completed.” She got it and it was
one of less than a dozen copies we both signed. Arlene was a sweet and
talented woman and a better writer than most people ever released. She was
concerned, dependable and beautiful as a friend.
I knew Hank Ketcham only slightly. I met him through Bill Melendez who did
the animation for both “Peanuts” and “Dennis the Menace” and Lee Mendelson
the longtime producer of both series for film and television. The common
denominator for the father of Charlie Brown and Dennis is that they were
both kind men. The supply of kindness is always in short supply. On that
level alone Hank Ketcham will be badly missed. As for the smiles of
recognition and morning escape, who can estimate the number that have
passed across our faces over the years because of him.
Go meet the angels.
RM 6/2/2001 Previously
appearance dates just announced!
Booking for "An Evening with
Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for
Concert & Appearance Details