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A Thought for Today

If you want to be a swimmer, get in the water. 

 

OLD FRIENDS AND NEW

Sunday afternoon and evening is a pretty good time to sit down and answer mail and it certainly beats watching the war on TV. Today’s mail is mostly from folks new to this Website but not necessarily new to my work. It’s nice to know that in addition to those of you who visit here on a steady basis, A Safe Place to Land continues to receive new hits every day.

MEMORIES

Rod: Wish I could comment on the loyal fan I have been all these years, but for some reason, your books faded--like so many things in my life from the 70's and on.

This morning, while embraced in the arms of a man I've been with half my life+...tender remembrance of "Listen to the Warm" crossed my mind. It had been years since I saw that book. How many times did I Xerox little excerpts and attach them to love letters or greeting cards back in those days!! As soon as I had quiet time, went looking for you on the PC. "Is he still alive? Is he still writing? Did he ever find his father? It took only moments to get the spelling of your name & learn you are very much alive and well!

Your appearances seem to be mostly in California? Wish I had known when I lived in Downey from '80 to '86. Your words would have been a calm in my storm of life then.

Just wanted you to know what delicious moments you filled me and so many of my friends with in late 60's and 70's. Your heart seemed like mine---like so many. That simple and beautiful way you portrayed what we all felt. Guess you are still doing that. It wasn't you who stopped, but me.

So glad for my reconnect to the sweeter things in life....Thanks for still being there. It is doubtful you would appear in my area. Who performs in Northern VA, or Washington, DC, particularly after this dreadful tragedy of the 11th? On the other hand, how healing for us to hear kind and lovely words like yours! Your old friend, Cookie (Karen Deitrick)

Dear Cookie, I don’t have any concerts scheduled for the Virginia/DC area at the moment but I can assure you that if I did, no terrorist threats could keep me from fulfilling the engagements. People need entertainment during times of stress and since I’m stressed out too because of 9/11 I need to keep working. Friday I start rehearsals for the November 10th Tap Your Troubles Away Concert and I haven’t heard a word about any cancellations from the more than thirty artists expected to participate in it.

For me to perform in your area, it only takes an invitation from a local concert promoter.

Thanks for the thoughtful words; we do back a long time don’t we? Welcome to A Safe Place to Land and I hope you’ll consider it a second home. I’m sorry about the horrors that happened so close to where you live but you must know that all Americans and people from all over the world grieve with you. I hope the actions we’re engaged in now will help prevent something like 9/11 happening again, anywhere. Affectionately, Rod

IF YOU GO AWAY IN SPANISH

Is there a translation of your lyrics of song "if you go away" in Spanish? Has any Spanish singer recorded it? Thank you very much. Lourdes MacMaster.

Dear Lourdes: “If You Go Away” does have a Spanish lyric and it has been recorded by many artists including Lucio Gatica and Matt Monroe. A few years ago Julio Iglesias recorded it in English and if I’m not mistaken he’s also covered it in Spanish. All the best, Rod

HIT ‘EM IN THE HEAD WITH LOVE

I am a Quaker and struggling with our nations plan for addressing terrorism. I have been stirring in my sleep tonight and your old poem about "hit them in the head with love" came to me. Can't find any such phrase in the search - can you help? Russanne

Dear Russane, “Hit ‘Em in the Head With Love” isn’t a poem but the lyric to a song from my album “New Ballads,” released in the 1970’s. Here are the words:

Hit ‘Em in the Head With Love

Some towns have so many islands
you need a boat to go from block to block
and since the sand goes on getting deeper
I’m building my home upon a rock.
And the next time somebody comes along
and knocks me down I’m gonna get up
and hit ‘em in the head with love.

I know some people who ain’t much for action
they’d rather sit around and merely talk.
But talk is cheap the days are gettin’ shorter
so I’m buildin’ my home upon a rock.
And the next time somebody comes along
and knocks me down I’m gonna get up
and hit ‘em in the head with love.

I got a bed full of feathers
a hole or two in nearly every sock.
But I don’t owe nobody nothin’
so I’m building my home upon a rock.
And the next time somebody comes along
and knocks me down I’m gonna get up
and hit ‘em in the head with love.

I’m crazy for crossword puzzles
so I got my dictionary out of hock
and since the nights are gettin’ longer and longer
I buildin’ my home upon a rock.
And the next time somebody comes along
to knock me down I’m gonna get up
and hit ‘em in the head with love.

Words & music by Rod McKuen © 1969, 1970 by Rod McKuen & Editions Chanson

Incidentally both the “New Ballads” & “The Beautiful Strangers” albums will be released on a single CD just after the 1st of the year. Thanks for requesting the lyrics. Cheers, Rod

MEG’S MEMORIES

Dear Mr. McKuen, I just discovered your website - what a pleasure to view. I just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful prose you've written over the years. I am 41 and when I was a sophomore in high school (1976) my friends and I discovered you! Your poems and stories helped get us through heartbreaks, familial problems and also added to our teenage joy. We especially enjoyed "Listen to the Warm", "Come to me in Silence" and "Celebrations of the Heart." We used to walk around quoting you verbatim and our many letters to each other invariably contained a quote from you as well. We all felt kinship with "Some Traveling Music" and thought it belonged to each of us on some level - "How can you say something new about being alone?...." What bliss to read!

Thank you for sharing so much with so many. I wish you continued good health and much happiness. Sincerely, Meg Ulrich, San Diego, CA


Dear Meg: Glad I was there for you and just as happy that you have always been here for me. I can’t imagine getting a nicer wish from anybody than “continued good health and much happiness.” The very same to you. Luv, Rod

LONG LOST FRIEND

Hello. This is about twenty years to late as the last time I wrote to you, you signed a poem for me and sent it back. I have since divorced and now find myself in a new relationship and I have found my way back to something familiar to me. I have looked for his books everywhere. Where are they?

They say familiarity breeds content and I am very content and finally happy in this new life of mine and want to share your works with my friend. Do you know or have you ever worked with Charles Lloyd? Are you going to be anywhere within Colorado soon. So many questions. Thanks for any info you can give. A long time fan, Chris


Dear Chris: Nice to be in touch again and here are some answers to your questions. No plans at the moment for a Colorado concert but as soon as one is scheduled dates and information will be published here first.

I haven’t worked with Charles Lloyd and while the name sounds familiar I’m not quite sure who he is.

As far as books go, the best selection of my work can be ordered from Stanyan By Mail. From time to time used copies of books and recordings can be found at auction on line. I hope these answers help.

I appreciate your thoughtful words, Chris and welcome back. Warmly, Rod

CANADA: A PAT ON THE BACK

Hi Rod; The last two weeks have been so very difficult for those of us who value human life and the liberty that North America represents. As a Canadian I feel just as violated and attacked as Americans feel. I was blessed that none of the people I know, who frequently travel to the U.S., were victims of the horrific events that took place on September 11th. I, just as all of your country, lived in fear and terror as I waited to learn the fate of individuals I love.

This was not an attack on just a country or a government. It was an attack on the world. Count the number of nations that lost family, friends and loved ones in the attacks and one must realize that the entire world and everything that is represented by both the United States and Canada is being attacked.

I have turned, so much, to your music; to your poetry and to your website. All of these have helped me to grieve, to process information and to continue to believe in the world that I so greatly love.

I believe that no individual should ever be labeled by the actions of another nor should any nationality be labeled by the actions of a few. I once attended a party where a very mouthy man attacked the entire black race for the behaviors of a few. I asked him how it felt to be a serial killer. He was highly offended by my question and began to become as offensive to me as my remark had been to him. I pointed out that, almost without exception, known serial killers are white males between the ages of 25 and 34 and that he fell right in the middle of this group. Based on his conclusion that all black men were pimps, drug dealers or murderers I felt that it was only appropriate that he have to answer the question related to white serial killers.. I'll tell you, it sure stopped conversation dead and it certainly left a few people thinking a little more carefully about what they were thinking and saying.

Rod, I grew up as a figure skater. The greatest compliment that I can give to a music/song writer is that the music is not something I simply hear; it becomes a part of my soul and exits me through my pores. When that happens, and only when that happens, I feel the music in my feet and every other part of my body and I become able to visualize the music set to steps on ice. I listen to your music and my world stops. It becomes the entire center of my universe and I always feel an intense emptiness when a tape or CD ends.

Your books have always provided me with a connection to my inner soul and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You help me to reach myself and to understand who I am and what I feel and need. Perhaps this comes as a result of the years that I, too, have spent fighting depression. Five years ago, after becoming totally incapable of functioning, I finally agreed to medication. What I discovered after the medication fully kicked in was that I had spent almost all of my adult life trying to 'pull up my socks' and 'get it together' and that it wasn't that I was failing to do what I had to do, it was that I was ill. Now I live my life and I look forward to each day and your music and your poetry are a part of that.

I will be in New York in 2003. I've already booked the time off from work. It isn't that I just want to be there. I need to be there. I need, so very much, to have the opportunity to shake your hand and to tell you, in person, the profound impact that you have had on my life. You make me laugh, cry, search for the truth in you and, most importantly, myself help me to give to others.

In the last two weeks, on my way to CNN, it is you I have turned to. To me you represent America. Your passion for your nation is clear and obvious and, at the same time, it is non-violent. What many may not understand, both in the United States and in Canada, is that whatever happens to the U.S., also happens to us. The nature or our open boarder, the immense amount of trade that we share, all of this serves to unite us as one.

Canada grieves just as America does. We have lost citizens who were victims of the attacks. More importantly, we share the same basic values and beliefs. We may not implement things in the same manner but our values are the same. We believe in the freedom of worship and the rights of any individual to speak and be heard. We believe in freedom of the press and the right to have an unpopular opinion. We believe in protecting those who need our protection. Sometimes, in following those values, mistakes are made. Some of the terrorists may have obtained access to the U.S. through our county. Many more obtained access through legal means within the U.S.

I wish you could visit here right now and speak to the people. We, as a nation, separate of politics and media, grieve and fear and share in the pain and the loss. My ability to put the depth of Canadian feelings into words only shows that I do not have the skills to convey the depth of feeling and love that comes from all Canadians at this time.

God bless you Rod, for the words you have shared and for the love you have conveyed. Thank you. With love Wendy Ryan


Dear Wendy, Over the years many people have thought that I was or am Canadian. As much as I love my own country I’ve always taken the Canadian reference as a great compliment.

There is not a lot of difference in the people of our two countries and the fact that we get along so well has more to do with that than the fact that we share a border and a continent. Thank God for the Canadian people, in times like these America needs all the friends we can get.

We are a strong and resilient nation but we share the same fears and insecurities as peace loving people everywhere. It’s heartening to see my people come together in such a patriotic fashion and even nicer to receive letters of support from around the world.

I loved your rejoiner to the bigot at the party. I wonder if we’ll ever realize that our differences are what make us strong as nations and as citizens of the world. And that is, of course, our differences as individuals not as groups.

My love to you Wendy, and to all your fellow Canadians. Rod

THE FINAL WORD

"Luge strategy? Lie flat and try not to die." -Carmen Boyle, Olympic Luge Gold Medal winner.

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays

Columbus Day (US)
Thanksgiving Day (Canada)

Rona Barrett o Christian Bernard o Chevy Chase o Matt Damon o Temple Fielding o Paul Hogan o Jesse Jackson o Juan Peron o Sarah Purcell o Eddie Rickenbacker o Pepper Rodgers o R.L. Stine o Sigourney Weaver o Stephanie Zimbalist

 . . . and warm birthday thoughts to Jill Bonney who is celebrating spring and her natal day in Sydney.

Rod's random thoughts I presume that International Harvester can take its proper credit for bales of straw and wheat. But man must not forget who fostered love and fed it. He did.

Compassion is the best friend anybody ever had. It’s good for those who receive it and better for those willing to pass it along.

How can we presume such easiness with each other and still remain so insecure?

THE WINDS OF WAR

The winds of war
no longer hide inside
or thread their way
             through clouds.
Nor do they sit on haunches
at the freeway offramp
waiting to pounce upon
                  unlucky strangers
who strayed away
from all the yellow brick roads
meant to lead the traveler
                  forever forward.
And the war winds’ specialty
of sailing in, then sailing back
and taking with them all the love
stored, piled, and hoarded
by those of us who wished to be
sure that when the famine came
we’d have love to spare, to share
                   has ceased to be.

No wind is trickster anymore
except where funnels start
                        far off
then turning to tornadoes
carry Dorothy and her shaggy Toto
                            to exotic places.

Wind has learned that love,
while not a conqueror,
wins far more battles
and makes so many lasting treaties
that being in the winner’s circle
supercedes the insecurity
that battlegrounds on foreign soil
                               or friendly soil
affords the stumbling, inept soldier.

They go on making and erecting
                    monuments to war
that all the winds
if they were joined together
for a final fatal blow
could not knock down or tumble.

Peace is a wind as evergreen
as everyone would have it.

-from “Watch for the Wind", 1983

 
© 1969, 1970, 1983, 1992, 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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