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A Thought for Today

Anyone with wisdom knows that they were born too late, for what has past will always seem superior to what is passing now.


Rod McKuen in Concert
8:00 PM Paramount Arts Center, March 10, 2001
23 East Galena Blvd. Aurora, IL (Chicago Suburb)
Ticket info: Prices: $22.50 
Phone orders: 630-896-6666 Fax Orders: 630-892-1048

Well, I don't know about you but I'm still on a high from yesterday - and here we go again! Thank goodness Rod's only doing two shows right now 'cause I don't think I could cope with the excitement of too many more.

OK, the show tonight was the first one to be announced so I guess it's fair to say this is the BIG one. Fans are flying in from all corners of the globe to celebrate with Rod and the atmosphere should be absolutely electric. Jay and Melinda, I know how excited you both are - bet you don't get much sleep over the next few days. Rita sounds as though she has a major party brewing so Aurora should be rockin' just a couple of hours from now.

I have the advantage here because, thanks to Wes and everyone else who wrote in about the Thousand Oaks show, I know what's in store for you and trust me, you're in for one helluva evening. Enjoy the show and have a ton of fun.


BJ seems to have recovered sufficiently to expand on her contribution of yesterday.

Dear Ken,

A "slight" expansion on my impression comments from yesterday.

I was seated front row, center (actually next to the good Scout master, Wes) so my take on the audience during the performance is minimal. However, during intermission and after the show, it was obvious that something special had taken place. Something that gave each person there a personal gift to cherish always.

To give you an idea of the level of intimacy Rod created - during intermission, in the ladies room, there was no chatter (when have you ever known a full ladies room to be quiet?) It was as if each one of us had entered a private arena of feelings and memories and needed the silence to reconcile and merge with those emotions.

Rod appeared very nervous when he first came on, I got the impression that maybe what he was doing (for the first time in so many years) didn't really hit him until he found himself, alone, center stage. Of course, he wasn't alone for long because the love in the room moved forward and wrapped him in its embrace. By the third number, he seemed to have reached that realm of "oh yeah, I remember this feeling and I like it."

The blending of new and old material was perfect, drawing forth old memories and creating new ones. And when Rod makes eye contact - time stops and somewhere deep inside, he's speaking only to you, despite the crowd.

This whole rambling might very well be boiled down to: thank you Rod, thank you.



It sounds as though Thursday was Carla's first McKuen concert. Way to go, Carla!

A warm and wonderful evening - that is what I will always remember about Rod's appearance at Thousand Oaks. I have enjoyed his writings and music for thirty years, and to finally have the opportunity to see him perform was a homecoming. Every moment was a gift.

Thank you for everything, Rod. Thank you ...


Sleep obviously agrees with Wes as it's enabled him to contribute a few more Thousand Oaks anecdotes.

Hello Again Ken, 

There was a couple sitting next to me who had been married a long time. They'd had "I'll Catch the Sun" sung at their wedding and I think they told Rod it was their anniversary. When he sang the song they were really emotional, clasping hands very firmly. They'd driven up from San Diego, about 130 miles. 

We had at least three from Arizona, and one, Rhonda, all the way from Idaho. Just about everyone I spoke to found out about the concert through "A Safe Place to Land" though many of them were not frequenters of the boards. The radio station girl did not know of the site but was aware of local theater listings. 

Well, today will be the kicker. Edward said that there are people flying in from all over the world for Chicago. He is really disappointed that he is staying in California. Oh yeah, Bob Gentry and his bass player (Bryan ?) were there also. Nice young guys and the bassist told me how honored and awed he was to visit at Rod's house while Rod and Bob were working on something. He seemed to truly respect Rod and his accomplishments. 

Just before I left I asked Rod specifically if there was anything he wanted me to relay to the board. He said simply, "it's great to be back. I really appreciate the enthusiastic audience". 


Ann, a compulsive McKuen concert-goer back in the seventies, gives us her impressions of the Thursday show.

Hi Ken,

On the drive home from Thousand Oaks, in the wee small hours of the morning, I tried to compose a letter to tell you about the concert. But the words that would describe it, if they exist at all, don't come easily and those that do just don't tell the whole story. The day was perfect - meeting up with old and new friends - visiting with Edward before the show (he was every bit as excited as we were) . And finally the big moment.....lights dimmed.....and there he is....at long last!

Between 1969 and 1979 I saw him perform 9 times and it was never like this. Never. His voice is so strong and clear and he looks great. And that smile.....they wouldn't have needed the spotlights because that smile after every song lit up the stage. I do believe he enjoyed himself as much as we did - maybe even more. 

Song after song, poem after poem - it couldn't have been any better. And, after spending more than 2 1/2 hours on stage, there he was in the lobby - giving us more. Over a hundred people were there and he greeted each and every one. The man is not only incredibly talented, he's also generous and caring and funny. When we left Edward was trying to drag him home but, true to form, Rod was making sure everybody had a chance to speak to him.

So, how to describe the emotions? I don't have the words - just a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes every time I try. In "Pushing the Clouds Away" he says we have to save the times that are allright for the ones that aren't so good. This "allright" time will last a lifetime, and beyond.

I wish you could have joined us. Oh well, there's always next time. 



And there WILL be a next time, Ann. Carnegie Hall here we come!

If any of our readers within striking distance of Aurora haven't yet got a ticket and are wondering "should I, shouldn't I", stop wondering and just do it! Get on down to the Paramount tonight and have yourself the time of your life.

I'll be back tomorrow with some feedback from our intrepid reporters at Aurora. Join me then.

                                      - Ken, Johannesburg, March 10

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Pedro Antonio de Alarcon o Bix Beiderbecke o Heywood Hale Broun o Kim Campbell o Prince Edward of England o Barry Fitzgerald o Bob Greene o Sir Charles Groves o Jasmine Guy o Arthur Honegger o Katharine Houghton o Sam Jaffe o Jethro (Homer & Jethro) o Pamela Mason o Shannon Miller o Chuck Norris o Sandy Palmer o David Rabe o James Earl Ray o Freidrich von Schlegel o Sharon Stone o Dean Torrence o Fou T'Song o Jacob Wasserman
Rod's random thoughts Anything that is done with love is done with care.

Laws and machines are shaped to fit the classes.

If you stargaze long enough, you learn that no two fireballs or constellations are alike, and the star that shines the brightest is often the one most different. Resolve, therefore, to be unique by being you.

FIORE /1812 
for F. F. 

If I could set down eighteen lines
upon a clean white page
that so expressed you
detailed in minute and grand detail,
the sockets of your eyes,
the girth of you
omitting not one millennium
                    of your size,
if I could tell exactly what it's like
to climb through you and into myself
then back inside / outside you again,
or say face to face
in rhyme or out of rhythm
how I feel this day
after only one night's reading of you,
say it straight for your ears only
yet with no complexity
so that everyone would understand,
then I could write my final poem and be done.

I could turn the page
and find a single line that summed it up,
here it is, I'd say, all of you.
Everything I've made from my life
and with my life:
here it is - all I've done
down nearly forty years
from crying in the cradle
to sobbing in the spotlight,
every laugh and long sigh in between
was preparation for just now.

Could I say it well enough
to be believed by you,
I'd run home to Pine Street
and open all the windows
                            W I D E
and shout to all the neighbors,
look who's living here inside -
               we are
surrounded by a greener green
than any meadow ever knew
and a multi-colored bed
wide as any known or unknown sea.

Fiore ! I would shout aloud,
flower of a different hue,
Fiore with a mind of so many unseen colors
that the dahlia or the tie-dyed rose
would never dare compete with you.

If I could set down in eighteen lines
on the virgin page
followed by a second twelve
to sum a statement of us up,
I'd dwell on every possibility
leaving out the humps and hurdles.
No impossibilities exist
to keep from bringing each of us
into the realm of one.

Come into me
as I've lately come inside of you.
A fusion we are, best of both
that splits to thirds when we're together.

Now we've come to final spring,
nineteen hundred eighty five,
and most good-byes remain unsaid -
only hinted at.
Fare well or better
there than here.
If you can use me
              call my name.
It's just the two of us again
on either side of searing flame.

from "Alone," 1975 & "Valentines," 1986
1975, 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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