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A Thought for Today

I measure success by the ones who come back.


An Evening with ROD McKUEN
Thursday, March 8th 2001 8:00 PM 
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA
All seats $35.00 each
Only West Coast Concert This Season

OK, let me see if I've got all of this straight. At the beginning of 1998 nobody knew what had happened to Rod McKuen, where he was or what he was doing. In the past three years we've had him make his debut on the Web, a ton of new writing, a couple of new CD's released and we're now on the brink of seeing and hearing him in concert for the first time in almost twenty years. Oh, and the book/CD version of "A Safe Place to Land", a first in the publishing industry, will be released this week. Am I dreaming?

I'm constantly amazed at what Rod has managed to achieve in the past three years, this at a time in life when most people would be content to break out the cardigan and slippers and put their feet up. Not our Rodney! Now, tonight, he's about to take the next step in what I call the McKuen Renaissance by appearing in the first of his two March concerts.

I remember so well the only time I managed to see him in concert. The venue was the Durban City Hall, the year 1975 when an event of this nature was considered a real night out on the town. You got dressed up - I wore a suit, for goodness sake! I attended the show on two consecutive evenings, the first with my wife the second with a whole bunch of friends who, over the years, had been subjected to me warbling McKuen songs as well as being the recipients of various books of his poetry. I felt I owed them one for putting up with me.

Strangely enough I don't remember too much of the concert itself but two things remain crystal clear. First, Rod's entrance. Not for him the casual stroll onto the stage, rather an exuberant sprint down the center isle from the back of the hall, shaking hands with those lucky enough to have secured an isle seat.

Second, the look on the faces of my friends at intermission. I won't say they were exactly there under sufferance but they certainly weren't in the first team as far as McKuen fans were concerned. By interval, this had changed irrevocably. They glowed, their eyes were all a-glitter and I could see they just knew they were experiencing a unique event by a unique performer. To my everlasting credit I managed to contain the "I told you so" retort that sprang to mind. 

And so to March 2001 and the next chapter. Rod, remember that thousands of your friends and fans all over the world are with you in spirit tonight. Your audience will extend far beyond the boundaries of the concert venue and I hope this knowledge will help make it even more of a special occasion for you. Good luck, my friend, may tonight and Saturday turn out to be all that you wish for - and more.

My thanks to those who wrote to say they hoped to see me at Thousand Oaks and Aurora. I would have liked nothing better than to be with you all this week but hey, someone has to mind the store while Rod's away. Don't you hate it when real life gets in the way of your daydreams? Besides, I'm saving my first USA trip for his return to Carnegie Hall. When that happens I'll swim over if I have to but I'll be there!

So my drill for Friday morning (Thursday night California time) is as follows; up at 5.30am, get the coffee going, feed the birds then settle down at 6.00am (8.00pm Thursday California time) with Tyra, the four-legged love of my life, to listen to the Carnegie Hall concert on CD. If I close my eyes and really let my imagination run riot, it could be almost like being there. And Rod, if you get the chance, please sing "I'll Catch The Sun" for me. If I were forced to pick an all-time favorite, this would be it.

I'll be back with you tomorrow and for the next couple of days while Rod's doing his thing on the road. Some friends who are attending the Thousand Oaks and Aurora shows have promised to send me their thoughts as soon as they get home so we'll have a couple of first-hand reviews to enjoy in forthcoming Flight Plans. If you're attending one of the shows and would like to submit some feedback, drop me a line at ken@mckuen.com and I'll do my best to include it.

Join me then.

                                       - Ken, Johannesburg, March 8

Details of Rod's upcoming concerts and appearances can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays


Richie Allen o Jaime Lyn Bauer o Louise Beavers o Jim Bouton o Cyd Charisse o Stuart Chase o Susan Clark o Mickey Dolenz o Kenneth Grahame o Alan Hale, Jr. o Oliver Wendell Holmes o Dick Hyman o Kathy Ireland o Keith Jarrett o Sue Ann Langdon o Ruggiero Leoncavallo o Eric Linklater o Camryn Manheim o Little Peggy March o Bob Moffatt o Clint Moffatt o Dave Moffatt o Freddie Prinze Jr. o Aidan Quinn o Lynn Redgrave o Jim Rice o Carole Bayer Sager o Robert Tear o Claire Trevor o James Van Der Beek 

Rod's random thoughts If there is panic in my eyes, it's surrounded by curiosity.

Each encounter that becomes a friendship turns into a lifeline. One can never have too many, only too many to take care of.

To dream is to remain always open.


Applause on entry
now the house is quiet.

The moment chooses me,
demands that I perform
in such a way
as to cause ignition
or continued silence.
The choice is always mine
sometimes I hesitate
or wait three seconds,
maybe six, too long.
The moment goes, is gone.

I will have
within that evening
a second or perhaps
a third such moment,
yet another chance.

If I miss each setup,
or hold a note
where I should have
stopped or paused -
                that ovation
some had come to give
(triggering those who didn't)
will dwindle to polite

It happens.
Lack of concentration,
an eye I should have
looked into or locked on
but didn't or would not
can cause the framework
of the evening
to fall forward
like a house
of bent unsteady cards.

But part of my profession
is the taking of risks.
When I'm unprepared,
I can't prepare an audience.

Why come into the ring
or circle the arena?
Because somebody has to go
                               and why not me?

Stepping on the stage
is like stepping on the starter,
you keep pumping
till the engine turns.

I am sure that there are risks
in the business you have chosen
and ones you gladly take.

And then
there is the march,
the banner hoisted high.
Whatever cause that I espouse,
I'm sure that someone
             in the middle aisle
or in the bottom bleacher
                 of the crowd
will be offended.

But long ago I learned a truth,
and in this life but few are given,
that if those people who have followed
                             and still follow me
do not yet understand
that one man's freedom,
               one woman's hope in jeopardy
jeopardizes all of us,
then I invite them, I insist
they pack up and go home.

They'll find others
             they can follow
and anyway, I'm not a leader -
I'm a needer like all others.

Open as a wound I am
to criticism, but not guilt.
If I join the march,
if I hoist the flag,
lend my name
              or wave the banner,
I do so with consistency
for every man and every woman
coming down the pike
or floating through
                 the pipeline
in search of freedom
or someone just to hold the candle.

Take advantage
of my position?
Abuse its privilege
                    you say?
Why the hell do you think
I worked so hard to get here
and plot so hard to stay?
If I can't give something back
to a nation that affords me
then I don't belong.

If I have to take
what some may call the low road
to help a citizen reach higher ground
I'll crawl back in the gutter
                              once again
and proudly.

In case you didn't notice
that's how it sometimes works.

                                - from Folio No. 26, Spring 1980

1970, 1980, 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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