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A Thought for Today

To forget we’re God’s children is to never grow up.


Dear Ken,

While I love most all Rod's work there's a special place in my heart for his collaborations with Jacques Brel.

"Come Jef", in particular, has always tugged at my heartstrings whenever I've heard it. It's such a powerful song!

Sadly I no longer have the album which featured it so maybe you'd be kind enough to print the lyrics someday.

Belinda Houghton.

It would be my pleasure, Belinda, and here they are.

The song is featured on the "Concert Collection - South Africa" double album, the liner notes of which contain some press reviews of Rod's 1975 South African concerts.

Yesterday we read a review of one of Rod's more recent appearances and I thought it would be interesting for you to read some from more than twenty five years ago.

Die Vaderland - June 5, 1975

He sings his beautiful songs with such feeling that one automatically forgets the artists he wrote them for...

Johan Liebenberg

Sunday Times - June 8, 1975

Rod McKuen... poet, composer, lyricist, singer and entertainer - sings his songs as you’ve never heard songs sung before... an unforgettable experience.

Bill Brewer

Rand Daily Mail - June 4, 1975

A poet and songwriter with phenomenal output and probably one of the most successful entertainers in the world today... his creativity is fired by his boundless compassion.

Raeford Daniel

Rand Daily Mail - June 11, 1975

...all types of people were drawn together by the magnetism of a gentle man in jeans and sneakers. ...Rod McKuen singing, his poetry and his presence have brought some sun into this cold season.

Kate Lee

Sunday Express - June 8, 1975

McKuen Magic. His looks have been weathered by time but his words and music are as fresh as newly picked flowers. There’s a very lovely quality to this man with the crooked teeth and friendly smile. Something so earthy and honest that you feel no one would ever want to hurt him, because there is no malice in him. And when he says he’d like to be remembered as a man who tried, you want to reassure him he will be, because he is already.

Bev Gilligan

Sunday Express - June 8, 1975

Rod McKuen is definitely an original... He has a rare gift of instant communication. Ambling onto the stage through the auditorium, he makes an immediate contact with his audience, chatting easily, throwing in marginal comment on the world around him.

Evelyn Levison

Sunday Tribune - June 22, 1975

This is a man who knows where it’s all at. He’s lived, and so when he sings about the sadnesses - his words storm across the footlights with the power of sincerity.

Marilynne Holloway

The Natal Mercury - June 16, 1975

Rod McKuen is not just a writer who sings his poems but a comedian, dramatist and a very commanding stage presence... whether drawing laughter or the odd tear... he projects sincerity.

Lynne Kelly

The Daily News - June 17, 1975

Mr. McKuen is a romantically meaningful balladeer... on stage, he is dangerously relaxed, extremely confident and in complete command of every song and every mood.

Sjoerd Meijer

The Argus - June 20, 1975

He is an entertainer with a flair for humor and with a style that is sincere, relaxed and quite enchanting. To see McKuen on stage is to see an unassuming person whose personality, sharp wit and delightful humor make his hour and half performance seem like a fraction of the time.

W.S. Kaplan

Eastern Province Herald - June 26, 1975

Rod McKuen, the man who has thrilled Carnegie Hall, last night played, as he put it, in a “pillow factory” (the Feather Market Hall). But such was his magnetic appeal that he brought charm to the old barn. An unforgettable evening... he writes for the common man...

Carl Williams

Transvaler - June 5, 1975

During the run of the performance there were so many beautiful moments that you desperately want to hold on to them...

Thys Odendall

Personality - July 1975

He made me young again on the wrong side of 40. McKuen, the weaver of dreams. Spellbinding...

Jill Mills

The Star - Thursday, June 5, 1975

...imagination, good timing and a sense of the dramatic... there is an undeniable appeal in hearing a man who has written for some of the best popular singers of the era.

Roy Christie

I've spent a good portion of my working life in the South African newspaper industry and know, or have met, most of the critics featured above. It's sobering to note just how many are no longer with us today.

Join me next Wednesday for another edition of this weekly column. If you'd like to contribute something about your favorite McKuen song or poem, my address is and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 - Ken, Johannesburg, December 5

notable birthdays Morgan Brittany o Margaret Cho o General George Custer o Joan Didion o Walt Disney o Morgan J. Freeman o Maggie Hayes o Larry Kert o Fritz Lang o Little Richard o Jim Messina o Grace Moore o Frankie Muniz o Jim Plunkett o Otto Preminger o John Rzeznik o George Savalas o Strom Thurmond o Calvin Trillin o Jack Valenti o Martin Van Buren
Rod's random thoughts We have a special name for people who agree with us, we call them geniuses.

The calm that comes of one’s own making is the most delicious of all treats.

The laws God made for us mean nothing without application.


Jef, the world is wide,
we’ll get a ladder
and we’ll climb the other side.

Jef, the sky is high
though we can climb up to the top
if we’ll just try.

Don’t be afraid Jef
please don’t be afraid Jef.

Jef, another dawn comes tomorrow
and your troubles may be gone
forget about today Jef.

Jef, please Jef.

Come, come, come...
I’ll play you Spain on my guitar
I’ll take you walking to the stars.

Come Jef, come.
Come, we’ll walk a little more.
Come Jef.

Nothing’s like it seems
nothing’s bad in daylight or in dreams
come Jef, come.

Come, please don’t be afraid
don’t worry Jef
every day has an end.

Now Jef, around the corner is a big house
Madame Adolf, she has some new girls
Jef, come we’ll look at them.
We’ll look them over once.

Jef, the water’s deep, black, muddy,

wouldn’t you rather go on a clear day.
Now Jef, Jef don’t be afraid, come.

Come Jef, come, come,
come, I’ll play you Spain on my guitar
I’ll take you walking to the stars
come Jef, come.

Come, we’ll go around the corner to the moon
we’ll go around the corner of the room
come Jef, come, come.

It doesn’t matter what they say
it doesn’t matter what the day’s like
Jef, come, come Jef, come.

It doesn’t matter what you think
come... please don’t be afraid Jef.

Jef, come Jef, come Jef,
I’m your friend Jef
if a man has a friend he has something.

Come, come, I’ll play you Spain on my guitar
we’ll take you walking to the stars
come Jef, come.

Come, the world is wonderful and wide
and we can get a ladder, climb the other side
come Jef, come.

 - from the album "The Concert Collection - South Africa", 1975

© 1970, 1986, 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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