11th July, 2007
A Thought for Today
Silence never needs improvement.
One Does It For Me!
Until recently I thought I was pretty well versed in most things McKuen,
particularly his association with Anita Kerr and the wonderful work they
did with the San Sebastian Strings.
Now I'm not so sure because a friend has just told me there was a San
Sebastian Strings Greatest Hits album released which I've never heard
Is this correct and where can I get it?
I'm with you, Melody. I'd never heard of this until I consulted Jay
Hagan's database and sure enough there it was.
The album was "Bouquet" but as far as getting hold of a copy is
concerned I think your best option would be to phone a friend. Either
that or eBay and if you find it please let me know.
Meantime here's the track listing from the album along with the liner
notes which, as usual, make for fascinating reading. To close off you'll
find one of the poems most closely associated with this body of work.
The Best of The San Sebastian Strings
Words written by Rod McKuen. Music composed by Anita Kerr.
1. Pushing the Clouds Away
2. Do You Like the Rain ?
3. We Two are Drifting
4. Floating Past the Fields
5. I’ll Carry Home an Orchard
6. Spring Prelude
8. Who Has Touched the Sky
1. Sunset Colors
2. The Day They Built the Road
3. Belcher Landing (One Certain Summer)
4. Capri in July
5. The Fourth of July in Sioux Falls
6. A Fist Full of Snow
8. Home to The Sea
In a time when there are probably more mood music orchestras than places
to accommodate them all on the best seller charts, The San Sebastian
Strings stand alone - out front and leading the pack. In the past six
years, not only have Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr created in The San
Sebastian Strings the largest selling series of concept albums in the
history of the recording business, but they have created an artistic
norm against which all similar albums must be judged.
The first project in the series was The Sea... and although it took only
several months to record, the full gestation period for the album was
almost ten years. For it was during that long period of time that Rod
McKuen conceived, wrote, rewrote, abandoned, resumed, continued and
finally completed a long standing dream - an album of poetry and music
reflecting the many moods and colorings of “the sea”. While the words
and ideas flowed forth from the prolific McKuen mind, the music was not
fast in coming. It took several abortive collaborations with other
composers until the perfect mating was found in the music of Anita Kerr
with the words of Rod McKuen.
Rod says that in Anita he not only has the perfect sounding board but
that she is a composer of such uncommon talent that every collaboration
between the two of them has been for him a perfect artistic experience.
Selling the idea was not easy even when the concept became a reality.
Rod and Anita were contracted to different record companies, and
although Rod wanted to do the narration on The Sea himself, his record
company wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the project in general.
Several others turned it down as well. It wasn’t until Joe Smith of
Warner Brothers Records took a personal interest in The Sea and threw
all his support and professional reputation behind the idea that The San
Sebastian Strings were able to be recorded. His conviction coupled with
that of the two creators of the act finally was infectious enough to win
a green light from Warners.
And the tide came in for everyone involved. The response to the album
was overwhelming. A beautifully written, performed, and recorded mood
piece became a national sensation. Critics found new adjectives to
describe The Sea. Everyone was listening and then talking about it. Word
of mouth was phenomenal... the album was reaching out to every kind of
person from all backgrounds. And so the record established a record of
its own - earning the honor of being one of the biggest selling
individual albums on the Warners label (even to this day). The Sea
itself has sold enough copies around the world to qualify for half dozen
gold records and has just earned Rod and Anita one of the few platinum
records given out in the record industry and the only one for a mood
Foreign language editions were instant successes in French, Spanish,
Japanese, German, Dutch, and other languages. The music of Anita Kerr
and the words of Rod McKuen became a worldwide phenomenon, crossing
language and ethnic borders.
The success of The Sea meant more than money and acclaim for Rod and
Anita... it was an affirmation and an opportunity to continue The San
Sebastian Strings series with new themes and expanded concepts. The
Earth was next ( by now Rod had joined Warner Brothers as a solo
recording artist and so was able to read his own words on The Earth ).
The series continued with The Sky, Home to The Sea, For Lovers and The
Soft Sea, and several boxed sets combined the albums by theme ( The Sea,
The Earth, The Sky was one three record set while The Sea, Home to The
Sea and The Soft Sea was another released under the title The Complete
Having fully explored “the elements”, Rod and Anita knew that if they
were to continue with more San Sebastian Strings albums a new approach
would be needed to challenge their creative talents and open fresh
horizons for the listener. During a two year hiatus, each continued
individual careers and frequently met to work out new ideas together.
From this period of germination sprang The Seasons. What better a
concept than to capture the fullness and unique quality of each of the
four seasons. And while the earlier San Sebastian Strings albums had
been a series of narrators (Jesse Pearson, Gene Merlino, Joey Benson and
Rod McKuen), it was decided to have one unifying voice for all “the
seasons”. By unanimous choice the voice was to be Rod’s, for by now his
voice and his poetry had become synonymous in the minds of millions of
The wealth of The San Sebastian Strings series and the depth of Rod
McKuen and Anita Kerr’s vision is captured in this bouquet containing
some of the best loved selections from the series. However, to call this
“the best of The San Sebastian Strings” is to be arbitrary... for each
poem, each song in every album has touched someone deeply and perhaps
changed a life. Such a far-reaching effect, moving people across the
miles and around the world, has been the true success and measure of The
San Sebastian Strings. For those who fear that romanticism and beauty
are long gone from our world, listen and take heart... they have
returned and they are here in your hand, within your reach.
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