22 July, 1999














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Rod in action at The Riverton Rendezvous, July 2001. 
Photograph courtesy Jay Hagan.

A Thought for Today

Iíve never known a man who didnít wish aloud or beneath his breath to be thought of as a sex symbol.


Rod is on the road for a couple of weeks and will be back with you at the beginning of September.


Every now and again I like to talk about some of the music I'm listening to or the books I'm reading. The other night I went off with some friends to The Hollywood Bowl to see one of my favorite new singers, the wonderful Diana Krall. It was a great evening, a picnic with cold salmon, champagne and best of all good friends on a starry night. Miss Krall could not have been better. Do yourself a favor and pick up her latest CD "When I Look In Your Eyes," I promise you won't be disappointed.

Meanwhile today I came home from my local Tower with an indispensable CD for any Petula Clark fan. Jim Pierson's "Petula Clark: The International Collection." It contains over a hundred tracks by Pet in Spanish, Italian and German. Pet in any language is one of the most superb singers of popular songs anywhere. Producer, collector, annotator Pierson is dedicated to preserving the performances of the great singers of the last part of this century. Add this one to his important restorations.

The 4 CD's that make up the collection come with a lavishly illustrated book, typical of the German Bear Family label. The sound is quite remarkable and best of all it contains not only her hits sung in translation, but much unfamiliar and previously unreleased material. Every track, even in a foreign language, shows again and again why so many critics consider Pet Clark one of the best singers of the later part of this century. While hit after hit made her a household name around the world, she was trapped by her enormous success. Thank God she came to us in the era of the LP, because she was able to pack her albums (usually named after her hits) with all manor of material. Many of her best songs were written by Pet herself and the dozen or so covers of Lennon & McCartney material over the years prove that apart from The Beatles themselves, she was the best interpreter of their material.

Pierson's notes, relying on his personal knowledge and friendship with Miss Clark and extensive quotes from the artist herself, are a model of what documentation for this kind of production should be. Thumbs up, four stars, whatever. This is the album of the year as far as I'm concerned.

Now, on to some mail.


Dear Rod, I was recently at a wedding where a beautiful poem of yours about Love was read. I don't know the title but it spoke in part about being able to let someone go, confident that they would return if their love was true and I would very much like to read the poem again and share it with someone that I think could benefit greatly from this idea. Would you be kind enough to e-mail me a copy or let me know how I could do further research to track it down? I would be very grateful. Thanks so much, yours hopefully, Frances Moore

Dear Frances, The letter that follows may answer your question. If so, the poem is entitled "Taking The Time" and is from my 1974 book "Seasons In the Sun" and can be ordered from Stanyan By Mail. Since it was printed in the July 12th Flight Plan you can even download it from The Archives. Hope this is the poem you're talking about, if not let me know and I'll do some more detective work. Cheers, Rod


Dear Rod, Thank you for publishing on your page the poem "Taking the Time" from Seasons in the Sun (1974). I have long been an admirer of yours since a 70's concert at the Albert Hall in London. After searching for and reading a lot of your work I came across "Taking the time" and read it at my Daughters wedding on 5/1/99. It was very well received not only by her and her new husband, but also by the other guests. Many wanted to know where I got it, who the author of such meaningful, truthful words was. It really made my day seeing it printed on your flight plan of 7/12/99, thank you again for those beautiful words and sentiments. Yours.. John Warren, Myrtle Beach SC

Dear John, What an honor to be a small part of the ceremony involving two people starting a life together. It means a great deal to me. Please extend my happiness and best wishes to the bride and groom. And, John, thank you very much for including me on the wedding guest list. Affectionately, Rod


I am probably the 2387th person to advise you that the Flight Plan did not fly today. A day without the Flight Plan is like a day without sunshine. It was a downer not having it to start the day. I fear the Apple has a worm in it. Warmest regards, Fred O. Bartlett, Jr.

Dear Fred, You're right, from time to time my Apple does get a worm or two in it. Alas, though, our server is DOS, Windows, shutters or whatever you guys on 'the other side' call THAT operating system these days. Would that Apple hard and software was used exclusively by our server. It works.

As we all know, though, even the biggest and best sites have their share of down time. You think you get crazed when you can't access ASPTL, I had a full head of hair when I started all this nonsense. Poor Ken, he usually gets all the blame so I'm not unhappy at all with your letter, besides, Fred, I'm delighted you care that much. The June 23rd FP did finally get up and it has settled into the archives. Regards, Rod


Dear Rod: Some years ago, at the end of television programming day, I believe they call it signing off, there was a poem recited while a jet was soaring across the sky. I thought it was by you, but forgive my ignorance, I'm not sure. Unfortunately the only line I can remember is the last. It goes: "I Reached Up and Touched The Face of God" I found it so awe inspiring, I've never forgotten the feeling, however, I have never been able to find out who recited or wrote it. And I would truly love to have all the words. I tried contacting the TV stations, but so far no response. Is this something you are familiar with? I would appreciate any help you can give me. A new fan, thanks to a new friend. Regards, Maggie

Dear Maggie, I know the piece your talking about and I didn't write it. Alas I don't know who the author is. I do know it's a great favorite of Air Force personnel and I'm hoping that one of them might tell me who the author is and send me the text. I'm pretty sure someone will. If and when it happens I'll share the information with you and other readers. For awhile a song I wrote with Anita Kerr, "Who Has Touched The Sky" was used by some stations as a sign off, but the poem you're talking about had a much longer run than ours did. All the best, Maggie. Rod


Have you ever played in Denmark, Copenhagen? Would you like to? ROGER OVER. Signesays.

Dear Signesays, The closest I ever got to performing in Denmark came about when Jazz great Chet Baker and I got sideways drunk in Amsterdam and he talked me into accompanying him to Copenhagen where he had a club gig. I watched all the shows and got up a couple of times and shared a song with him.

Would I like to do a concert or concerts in Denmark? You bet your life I would. ROGER, OVER & OUT. Rod


You used to be interested in and fly Bi-Planes. Stanyan News told about you going to Wyoming and taking lessons. You even had a Bi-Plane logo at one time. Do you still fly Bi-Planes.? The FP is a daily stop on mine right from the very first one. I join the thousands who thank you for "landing", a nice smooth 3 pointer at that. Keith Kidder

Dear Keith, I haven't been up in a Bi-Plane for too long. For one thing my pilot friends all live in different cities. I took enough lessons to nearly qualify for my license, but remember those were the years of heavy concert tours and private time for such pursuits was in short supply. Flying well takes practice and dedication and time. I certainly was up enough though to inspire a bunch of 'sky songs' "I'll Catch The Sun." "If I Could Fly" "Flying Free," the libretto for "The Black Eagle . . . Then I took up ballooning. And speaking of that . . .


Hello Rod : I hope all is well with you. Ray and I were just talking about a good friend who just passed away and it got us thinking about other old friends we hadn't seen for awhile and your name came up. I said you must have a Web site and went looking. It didn't take long. We both hope your doing well and in good health.\ Dean and Ray.

Dear Dean and Ray, Gad! You never know who you'll run into on the net! It's a big deal for me to hear from you guys (Ray taught me ballooning. I even agreed to do an extra concert in South Africa and got the promoters to pay for Ray and his balloon to come to Africa, so that we could sail through the countryside. Dean is a talented photographer who has taken many published photographs of ballooning and other outdoor sports.)

You guys would have loved a barge trip I took through the canals of Southern France a couple of years ago. One morning I had a balloon ride with a pilot so inexperienced he kept clipping the tops of trees. The other passengers were not amused. I'm healthy and happy and now that you know where I am, don't be strangers. Love, Rod

                                - RM 7/21/99 Previously unpublished.

Rod McKuen concert and appearance details can be obtained via the link below.

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Ian Anderson o Rosanna Arquette o Patti Austin o Antonio Banderas o Noah Berry, Jr. o Claude Binyan o Rocky Colavito o Jeff Corey o George Crockett o Jimmy Dean o Eddie Fisher o Rhonda Fleming o Alexander Goehr o Jack Haley, Sr. o Bobby Hatfield o Herbert Hoover o Martha Hyer o Jane Pickens o Harry Richman o Junior Samples o Norma Shearer o Ronnie Spector
Rod's random thoughts When everything is done, go.

Love without passion is love without purpose.

Keep your doubts to yourself.


Something pulls me
back and forth
across my country.

Seasons, yes
and seas at either end.
There are cities
I'm obliged to visit
in business of business,
              and curiosity
has more than once
been my travel guide,
but something deeper
tug at me,
won't let me go.

It's as if my destiny
is to inch by inch myself
across the sprawling land
until my dust is ready
to mingle with the earth
I've run and crawled on
all my life.

Until then
I'll surely be a nomad
never finding roots
                    or home
or always finding them
wherever journeys take me.

The push - pull
of the wind,
the magnet moon
that more than
once a month
fills up for me,
again the tides...
None would be enough,
Something more.

Nothing in a world
of pretty places
ever once approached
the love I have
for my own land.

I could not
catalogue or list
what I've found
          and find
within the borders
of my country.
It would take
another lifetime
to set down on paper.

With this first life
half over
I cannot waste
the second half
in writing words
        of praise
or seeming propaganda.

But what a need
I sometimes feel
          to yell back
through the years
to Whitman -
Hey there, old man,
I hear your same America
and it is singing.

To visit Flat Rock
one more time
         and hunt up
Sandburg's ghost
just to reassure him
yes you made
our Lincoln live.
We go on loving
you as well as him.

I'd like to toss a pebble
in the pond at Walden Pond
and as it sank
and made an ever-growing
Say Thoreau aloud
a thousand times
till all the birds
flew off to practice
calling out his name.

Again it's not
the great men only,
those who loved
the language and the land,
it's something else.

I suspect
that deep inside
my country's center
right or left of it's
wide throbbing heart
the gravity's so strong
that none of us
will ever be
master or mistress
of our destiny,
especially knowing
that we're ill equipped
to even half give back
what the sprawling land
           has given us.

- from the US edition of "We Touch The Sky," 1980. This poem was not in the British edition published a year earlier.

© 1966, 1979, 1980, 1999, 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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