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Paramount marquee, Aurora, March 10 2001

A Thought for Today

Passion isn't always the decider, or it shouldn't be.


Some of our friends just weren't able to get their concert reports to me until after they'd returned home. I think you'll agree they were worth waiting for.

Ed tells of an old colleague of Rod's who attended the Thousand Oaks show.

Dear Ken,

Sorry for the tardiness of this letter but I took the weekend off after I attended the concert on Thursday. I was able to bring a new friend to the concert who had only recently been brought into the fold. The magic of the night was made special by the added joy of sharing a something that I have known and loved for so many years ....I had mentioned in passing to a friend (Tom) that I was attending the concert and was surprised to find him at intermission along with his wife ( Jo ) who had worked with Rod in England in the early 70's. She had lost track of him and was overjoyed to "Find" him after all these years. There are NO mistakes ...When I left the theater she was teary eyed and waiting among the throng in the lobby for her reunion ....I have been overpaid.

Rod's stage presence and obvious comfort level with those that love him and his work was evident, as evidenced when he found he was missing the words to a piece from "lonesome cities" and a fan from the audience produced a well worn copy from his lap for his use on stage.

The material selection and delivery were more than I had hoped for ....please encourage him to continue (at least on the left coast)

Ed Gohn

Jay, whom Eric describes as being like a kid in a candy store on Saturday night, fills us in on Rod's hectic schedule.

Good Morning Ken,

I have read all the things that have been said about the concert on the Flight Plans and on the Message Center and there is very little I can add except to say that for me it was a very special night.

As I listened to Rod recite "I Always Knew" I felt he was speaking to me and to everyone in the hall. The piece was written especially for us.

After the concert ended and Rod had left the stage everyone in the hall just stood there talking about the show. All the comments I heard were very positive.

We made our way to the lobby and it was packed with groups of people talking about the event that had just happened. No one seemed to want to leave. It was like we all wanted something MORE to happen.

And it did.

In a few moments one of the staff for the hall announced that Rod would be coming out in a few moments to sign autographs for anyone who wanted one.

At this point I need to tell you a few things I know about Rod's day up to this time.

He had arrived at O'Hare Airport very early in the morning after a 4+ hour flight. He spent the next two hours running around the airport getting with Jerry... the promoter and the members of the band. From there he proceeded to the hotel where he spent the morning getting things together for the show. ( I hope he took a few moments to eat some food. ) During the afternoon he went to the hall for a sound check and some setup for the concert.

By the time the concert started this man had been awake for over 24 hours. ( I am a few years younger than The Kid and I know the time and the pressure of the coming event would have done me in. )

But Rod gave us a three hour performance with only a few short minutes for an intermission.

And then he HONORED us with more of his time to sign autographs. For the next hour and a half he stood behind the table and autographed most everything that was placed before him. Some people had 5-6 books or albums.

And every person who asked for a picture with Rod got one.

But what makes him a great man was that HE thanked each person for letting him autograph their items and HE thanks each person for having their picture taken with him.

By now I figure he has been on his feet for 30 hours or more but did he stop to rest?

Once back at the hotel he came to my room and spent the next 2 hours with me, Cheryl ( my wife ), Melinda, tara and Beth Anne. He sat in a chair and just talked. He talked about the concert, about his future plans and about many other things. He answered our questions about anything we asked.

As he was leaving ( at 3am ) he hugged us one and all and thanked US for coming to see him.



Jay Hagan

Larry is his usual eloquent self in this report.

Dear Ken,

When Rod announced his upcoming concerts, I was ecstatic; not only for myself, but for those fans who had never seen him perform in a live concert. They would soon understand what I've known for over thirty years.

As the band begins the musical introduction, the feeling of anticipation and excitement becomes almost unbearable. Some of the people sitting here might have been waiting patiently for twenty years and more for this moment. They are here because of one reason; their love for the man who would soon be standing alone before them. Then, Rod McKuen, dressed casually as he always has, approaches the microphone at stage center. Even before the enthusiastic standing ovation has died down, Rod has this audience in the palm of his hand, and now he also begins to draw them into his world, and they become one with him. Even after all those years, that boyish charm and charisma are still very apparent. Before this evening is over, Rod will have made everyone here part of his family, as indeed they are.

I leave the description of the content of the concert to others, who have described it so beautifully; there is no need for me to elaborate. Suffice to say, that what I experienced at the concert in Aurora, was for me, a trip back to a time when the world was much younger; a world that somehow seemed to be a kinder, gentler place that Rod was such an important part of. I went through the same emotional roller coaster that the rest of you experienced. I smiled and laughed, and I wept; God how I wept! it was embarrassing. *S* And then, when it was over, I went away from the Paramount Arts Center totally wiped out emotionally, with Rod's music, and those famous words still echoing in my mind: "It doesn't matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love." The heavens seemed to be smiling down on all of us that night, and everywhere you looked, you saw love on the faces of everyone around you.

This superbly talented, gentle man, has nothing left to prove, for his fame and immortality are secure. When he's gone, (many years from now we hope) from time to time, somebody somewhere in the world might hear his music, or read his poetry for the first time and realize that "this was an artist!" And somewhere somebody will be receiving an assurance that life is worthwhile.

That assurance was Rod's gift to me all those long years ago. I am a very grateful, fortunate man today.

With love and affection,


Rita gives us a run-down on some of the people who attended the Aurora show.

Dear Ken,

I know this is late in coming in. I am just now back to my office after dropping Rita Jo off at the airport. I have about an hour before the office is supposed to open so I will try to get this off to you. Where to begin. The entire weekend was so full of warmth, laughter, joy, and love, it is just too hard to find words. Everyone else has already told you how wonderful Rod's voice was and how good he looked and sounded. From the first notes of "If I Could Fly" my heart was soaring. I laughed and cried and asked Linda Becker who was sitting beside me to pinch me to make sure I wasn't dreaming. During the second half when he sang "I'll Catch The Sun" I thought of you and wished so that you could have been there with us. It was truly a magical weekend. Part of the magic was the way in which all the McKuen fans reached those outstretched hands to each other.

I saw so many evidences of kindness and caring and I can't even begin to mention all of them. We celebrated Jana's birthday, we welcomed Paul Dolman who came over from England. There were two other couples from England who stopped by the reception and joined us plus many people whose name I did not get. Too many to remember everyone, but it was a warm and wonderful time. Mark Thompson who lives in Chicago did a wonderful job of making us all feel welcome and even doing some personal tour guide duties on Sunday.

Diane Minogue who had written to me a few times came in with Judd and as soon as she was introduced the Rod Squad opened up to her and she and Judd became part of us.

I can't think of any other performer who has the capacity to draw so many people together with the kind of love and sharing and kindness felt by this group. Yet through it all, Ken, your spirit was there. You who keep it all together and make it possible for us to stayed linked together in cyberspace even when we cannot be face to face. Seeing pictures on the message boards of Rod hugging tara and Jay brought tears to my eyes. It was hard for me to believe that after giving such a fantastic performance that Rod could take the time to personally greet all those who waited to meet him. What a man, what a performer, how can we not love him?

Thanks again Ken for all you do to help Rod reach out to all of us.


Rita Bartlow

Jane, who's known Rod for more years than either care to admit, wasn't able to make the shows but enjoyed the reports.

Hi Ken,

Thank you for sharing the reviews. It was the next best thing to being there at the concerts. How exciting for those who were able to attend.

I am so proud of Rod. He is such a genuine person and speaks from his heart. All his fans know this and admire him for it.


And the last word belongs to Melinda.

Dear Ken,

"For a while the only earth that Sloopy knew was in her sandbox...". Watching Rod walk onto the stage and hearing him say those words...thirty years dropped away for me. I was young again and full of hope...seeing the world again through the eyes of a young girl. Rod's presence on stage was so familiar...and for that night and for all of us in that concert hall in Aurora...all was right with the world.


Once again thanks to all who shared their thoughts with us over the past week. 

My vote for the most poignant moment of the week? I go with Rita on this one.

Rod and tara, Aurora March 2001. Photograph courtesy Eric Yeager.

Yes, I know we can't see tara's face but those of us who know her don't need to in order to appreciate the significance of the occasion.

Rod is taking it easy the next couple of days (he deserves to!) and will be back with you next week to share his thoughts of last weekend. Make sure you don't miss it.

                                     - Ken, Johannesburg, March 16

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Bernardo Bertolucci o Erik Estrada o Jack Ford o Isabelle Huppert o Jerry Lewis o James Madison o Mike Mansfield o Daniel Moynihan o Conrad Nagel o Kate Nelligan o Pat Nixon o Olga San Juan o Kevin Tod Smith o Jerry Jeff Walker o Henry Youngman
Rod's random thoughts What we want we cannot have. What we have we long ago stopped wanting.

A family with a yard needs a dog. A dog with a family needs a yard.

Anything that is done with love is done with care.


The difference between
descent and decay
is one has a chance
of returning.

The obvious over -
looks the next fire
in favor of ones
now burning.

The pessimist knows
very little at all,
only I'm tired
of learning.

The lover remembers
the good times only
except when recalling
the bad.

The dreamer extends to
the darkness the privilege
of watching his soul
go mad.

The lover forgets
what he didn't have,
but never the things
he had.

-from "Valentines," 1986
1974, 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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