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Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

The quicker the love affair, the faster the yawn.


It's impossible to predict what will turn up in my E-mail, it seems to be - in varied amounts - a combination of business letters, fan mail, permission requests for Stanyan-McKuen controlled material, old friends retouching base and since I'm one of the better known Mac-freaks, solicitations of all things Apple.

Once in a while a persistent by-mail-stalker has to be locked out but I don't get too much junk mail. Since I abandoned chat rooms long ago there seem to be no more cookie monsters perched on the post box with a wink and a "pssst." Over the years word has gotten out that I don't under any circumstance read manuscripts so unsolicited poetry has turned to a trickle and is immediately trashed.

Tuesday's column will cause some controversy. So far the feedback is 99 to 1 in the positive column. I'd be a little alarmed if that weren't the case since even though we knew we were getting a 'damn everything but big business president' - despite his campaign rhetoric to the contrary-, I don't think anyone was prepared for a first 100 days that trashed so many environmental protections; let alone a 10 year in the making treaty signed by a hundred nations. 

I'll deal with some of that mail in tomorrow's Friday Feedback.

Occasionally something a bit off-the-wall surfaces and just such a letter arrived the other day and lead to today's new poem, written over the weekend.


Hello old friend from another lifetime. It was funny, I was just telling someone about a poem you wrote. (It got me through a very depressed and hopeless time in my life.) Then I saw you just yesterday on E! you were talking about Phyllis Diller! 

You wrote a poem about- you must believe or there is no reason to be, and I can't remember what age you used. I loved your books and records! The age poem was wonderful! I used to go to sleep with your poems and the sounds of the ocean. I had never been to the ocean, then when I went it was just like it was in your poems and records.

I try to get to the ocean a couple of times a year. My husband loves to sail. I just love looking at the ocean, and being on the sand. You taught me to love the ocean. Do you ever wonder how many people you have influenced?

I'm 53 now, but I will never forget your works and the impact you had on my life. My health is lousy, and every year I make it to Florida or California, I'm just grateful for each time. Thanks so much, Marilyn Bast.

Dear Marilyn, Thanks for the nice letter and I'm glad that among other things we have the ocean in common. Even if as you say, your health is "lousy," at the ripe young age of 53 you shouldn't start feeling old. At least, considering my own age, around me.

I was interviewed for two documentaries about my old friend Phyllis Diller last year. One was for "E" and the other The Arts & Entertainment Network. Despite triple by-pass surgery and officially 'dying' on the operating table Phyllis is out, about and working at two full time jobs. She continues to play theatres and nightclubs, where her act is funnier than ever and more recently Phyllis has found a whole new career as an artist. And, she isn't just a painter but a GREAT painter. I figure if at 84 Phyllis is still living life to the fullest you and I are not entitled to bitch. She's an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

The poem you are speaking about is entitled "For Benson Green on his Twenty-Seventh Birthday." It was written long ago and included in "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows."

As to how many people I may have influenced, it's of little importance, really. If, as I've said more than once, something I've written or done has helped someone get through a difficult night or period in their life then I've succeeded in doing something really important. In the end that what all of us are here for, to help each other over the humps. Luv, Rod


Hi Rod, I don't know the answer to this one and thought you might like to tackle it in a FP one day soon. Blue Skies, Ken.

Hi Ken, You quoted from a Rod entry in the British edition of the "Moment To Moment" book, that there was a book called "The Word Went Out From Boston" in the works. What ever happened to that book. Was it put aside or just renamed? Thanks, Storm

Dear Ken & Storm, The Word Went Out From Boston can best be described as 'Vapor Ware.' I started writing it in the 70's but abandoned the project after about a dozen poems. Thanks for asking. Rod


Rod, I am sorry to bother you again but I wrote to you over a year ago asking about the expanded release of your Carnegie Hall Birthday Concert and you wrote me back letting me know that it was going to be released sometime in the year 2000. I was excited and anxious to say the very least. I constantly
flocked to Tower and Virgin stores in NYC to check for its availability to no avail. 

I can only hope that there was some kind of a project hold up and that it might be released sometime this year. I would love to know what the status is on this project and also if there are any other re-releases of your fantastic work. I was fortunate to see you live in Colorado Springs back in the 70's and I am hoping to get to see you again sometime soon in NYC now that you are back on the concert scene. Take care and know that your words and work have touched a generation. Fondly, JD Vark

Dear JD, Thanks for being interested in The Complete Carnegie Hall set. As I mentioned last week a series of double CD sets are in the works that will feature released and unreleased concert albums. Each one will contain the complete concert as it was presented, including material not previously released. In the case of "Sold Out at Carnegie Hall," even though it consisted of 4 sides of two LP's there wasn't room for 4 or 5 songs. Since CD's can contain nearly 80 minutes of programming there will be room for the complete concert as you remember it, plus the unreleased material in the double CD package.

I can't give you a release date, but as it stands now we'll be importing the Concert Series from Holland so it won't interfere with any plans Stanyan has for upcoming USA releases. The single Carnegie Hall CD has just gone out of print so it shouldn't be more than a year or so from now until the new package is ready. Warmly, Rod


One quick question from a long time admirer of yours and a dear fan, will you please clarify for me something regarding "I'll Catch the Sun." The question is, is it I'll catch the sun or son? Greg

Dear Greg, You got the title right the first time. Anything else would be a bit sinister. All the best, Rod 


Hello. I was wondering if the words you wrote about Orly Field had anything to do with the tragic plane crash near Paris in 1962? Was there special meaning for you as an artist behind them? Thanks! -Jean Chrastina

Dear Jean, Alas it does. The poem was written for and dedicated to my friend Doug Davis. Doug was a member of the Atlanta art community that had charted the flight for return to the States after attending museums in Paris.

Doug was not scheduled for the flight but took an available seat at the last minute and was killed along with a planeload of Georgians on takeoff from Orly Field. 

Doug was a fine artist and a good friend, his death affected me very much and I wrote several poems about him. In the past three years I've published several on The Flight Plan. You can enter his name in the search engine at the bottom of this page to read some of the things I've written about him. Warmest wishes, Rod


Did you ever write a poem entitled "may 17"? I thought that it was by you and I have been looking for it everywhere. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks! Erin.

Dear Erin, Jay Hagan informs me that you can find May 17 in my book "In Someone's Shadow" published in 1968. Here it is:

May 17

I believe that crawling into you
is going back into myself.
That by the act of
joining hands with you
I become more of me.

There are no whisky bars
for dancers like ourselves,
and so we move into each other
like drunkards into open doorways.

My need for you is near addiction.

No sailor ever had tattoos
growing on his forearm
the way your smile
has willed itself back behind my eyes.

It will not dissolve.
It will not divide.
For I am nothing if not you.

-from "In Someone's Shadow," published by Random House

All the best, Rod


Rod, I need some advice about getting my first set of poems published and I have NO clue as to where to go or even what to do. I was hoping that you could at least set me off in the right direction. Thank you for your time and help! Sincerely, Anna Skelly 

Dear Anna, Publishers aren't stumbling over each other to find and publish the newest poet. Original poetry is perhaps the most difficult writing to get published. Here are a couple of ways you might try and jump-start the process.

Every year Writer's Digest published a source book called the Writer's Market. You can find it in most bookstores or at your local library. The book is just that, a listing of addresses where writers can submit their work for possible publication. Another magazine, Poets & Writer's maintains an ongoing list of poetry outlets and a listing of grants and awards for writers. They even have a website <www.pw.org

Your best bet is to build up a collection of your poems that have been published in magazines and periodicals, that way you can demonstrate to a potential publisher that your work has already enjoyed some success. Good luck, if your work is good and you want to be published badly enough, you will be. Cheers, Rod


Dear Mr. McKuen, A friend of mine says that many years ago he owned a record that was called something like "a birthday message from Rod McKuen " in which you spoke a birthday message with his name inserted into the recording.

Was there in fact such a product? If so, do you know if any still exist? (with any name) His birthday is fast approaching and I think nothing would make him happier- Thanks in advance for your reply. Amy Meltzer, Nothampton MA

Dear Amy, The series you mentioned was published by ABC Paramount during the 1970's. They were called Flexi-discs and played on LP turntables. While they are no longer being produced you might query Dwight at Stanyan By Mail. I'm sure we have cards for some of the more popular names like Bob, Barbara, Joe, Mark, Mary, Richard and Jenny left. The question is does your friend still own a turntable? Regards, Rod


I'm looking for the album I previously owned that had a song on it that I believe was called "Trashy and other love songs". That may not be right but I remember one of the last lines in the song said something about "you know, you give refuse a bad name". I'd like the name of that album and if I can find it on CD. Hairball.

Dear Hairball, Here's a complete listing of where "Trashy" can be found. It's been compiled for you courtesy of Jay Hagan.

"Here is where you can find Trashy and other love songs:

Rod McKuen at Carnegie Hall - Sold Out (2LP)
Rod McKuen at Carnegie Hall - Sold Out (Songbook)
Rod McKuen at Carnegie Hall - Sold Out (Japanese Release) (2LP)
Greatest Hits of Rod McKuen, The, Volume 4 (LP
Songs of Rod McKuen, Volume One, The (Songbook)
Kaleidoscope (Songbook)
23 Rod McKuen Songs (Songbook)
Greatest Hits of Rod McKuen, The, Volume 4 (CD)

Best bet... the Greatest Hits CD. Waterfalls, Jay"

Hope this helps. All the best, Rod


Dearest Mr. McKuen, I feel as though I've turned a busy corner and bumped into an old friend. "A Safe Place to Land"...exactly what I was looking for, and in a single click, there it was, and there you were. After all these years, and still as gentle, strong and soothing as all those years ago.

If it's a requirement of this site to ask you a question then I
guess it would be "How have you fared all these years?" .Hope you are well and now I look forward to visiting often and catching up on what you've been putting down on paper. Gratefully, Karrie, an old admirer from Stanyan Street

Dear Karrie, Thanks for the kind thoughts. I've fared well and this morning when I woke up I was still here. No complaints. Hope you feel the same. Luv, Rod


Rod: In about 1966, I had a LP of yours which included a song about war and planning for war. It has been so long that I've forgotten the lyrics.

In any event, I went into the Army in 1966 and when I came back from Viet Nam, the record had disappeared. Over the years, I have looked for the record but have not been able to find it. Now, many years later, I can't remember much about the lyrics and for sure can't remember what the album looked like.

I am contacting you in the hopes that you would be able to tell me what albums you had out by the end of 1965. It will help me narrow the search for the one I am looking for. Thanks so much.
John F. Head

Dear John, I've written a lot of what might be called 'war songs' or 'protest songs,' but based on the time frame you mention it sounds to me as though you might be referring to "Some of Them Fall" from the LP "The Single Man." The album is not yet on CD but is still available on LP from Stanyan. I hope this helps and that I've described the song you are looking for. You can check out the lyrics in the book "Lonesome Cities.:" All the best John, Rod


Dear Rod, who is singing "Baby It's Cold Outside" with you on the Platinum CD set? Simran

Dear Simran, It's my old friend Petula Clark. We recorded it together in London several years ago. I've also performed it with Dusty Springfield, Lisbeth List, and Nancy Wilson among others. 

I love being with and working with the talented Petula and leaving her name off the credits on the CD's is one of several mistakes on the Platinum CD's. Read on. Best regards, Rod 


Hi Rod, Reading the track listings on the Platinum Collection, you are listed as the composer of "Long, Long Time" and "500 Miles". Is this correct or a typographical error? I've loved "Long, Long Time" forever - who originally recorded it?

I've got money on this one - let's hope I come out of it with my reputation (and wallet) intact! Blue Skies, Ken.

Dear Ken, I hope your money wasn't on me as writer of either song. (It wasn't - Ken). "Long, Long Time," the plaintive Linda Rondstadt hit, was written by Gary White and Hedy West should have been credited as the sole author of "Five Hundred Miles." Crediting me as the songwriter for either of these songs I love so much is a very regrettable mistake. Corrections have been made for additional pressings of the set.

I didn't see the track listing copy before the discs were issued in Korea. My apologies to Pet, Gary, Hedy and to anyone misled by these print errors. Print mistakes and omissions are not supposed to happen, alas they do. As ever, Rod


Mr. McKuen. We are great fans of your work, and we've started a new secret poetry magazine. We'd love a poem from you for a future issue. Take care. can we have our ball back?

Dear can we have our ball back? The answer is yes. I just finished the poem for you and you will find it at the bottom of this page. Great name for your magazine and good luck with it. Cheers, Rod


Today it belongs to Sonja.

An old man was sitting on a bench at the mall. A young man walked up to the bench and sat down. He had spiked hair in all different colors: green, red, orange, blue, and yellow.

The old man just stared.

The young man said sarcastically, "What's the matter old timer, never done anything wild in your life?"

Without batting an eye, the old man replied, "Got drunk once and had sex with a parrot. I was just wondering if you were my son."

See you tomorrow for some Friday Feedback & Pass it Along. Sleep warm.

                         RM 4/3/2001 Previously unpublished

Summer concert just announced! Details can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

Make sure you're advised of upcoming McKuen happenings - add your name to the Rod McKuen Mailing List.

notable birthdays Maxine Cheshire o Mary Costa o Roger Corman o Bette Davis o Agnetha Faltskog o Frank Gorshin o Arthur Hailey o Mary Hemingway o Gregory Peck o Colin Powell o Gale Storm o Swinburne o Spencer Tracy o Herbert von Karajan o Algernon Swinburne o Booker T. Washington
Rod's random thoughts No time given to work is lost.

Time is a runner, and not with good intentions.

Silence with friends is comfort.


Mr. McKuen. We are great fans of your work, and we've started a new secret poetry magazine. We'd love a poem from you for a future issue. Would you please send us a poem? Take care. can we have our ball back?

Dear can we have our ball back?, Thanks for asking, the answer is yes. Here it is. Cheers, Rod 

By Rod McKuen 3/31/01

I wish I could give back to you the first
ball you threw so long ago, the one that 
wore out, got mislaid or stolen. The one
you tossed into the trees or sent way up
to the top of the tent that rolled down the 
side and under the slide, gone forever.

If ever a ball deserved to come back
it was that one that wont be retrieved 
by what we believed or believe. The 
trouble with balls is the trouble with all
those things left behind is some other 
time or mind set. We always forget to 

forget them in time to move on, get on 
with what ever whatever is. That stuff
we gave up ball games for, forgot all
the names for as we traveled from
there to here. We do not select our
memories they choose us. Why not a 

ball, an agate, a sled instead of the 
boy who went away, the girl who broke
your heart at eleven. I wish I could give
you your youth back or some truth 
good enough to take its place, erase
recollections of lost balls and days.

I wish I could give your ball back. I can't, 
anymore than I am able to show you the 
road you took up and out so long ago 
you can't remember taking it. But there 
is something I have been making for you; 
a ball you can hold and wind and throw 

from this day on. Take it along to where
ever you go and know it is given with all 
the love I had for it while I had it. Only a 
ball, round, small, not your ball of old but 
yours now to play with, or if you choose 
hit over the fence, over the tent and lose.

Rod McKuen 3/31/01 First publication
1968, 1974,1984, 1988, 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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