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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
A Thought for Today
Old friends are the best. They eliminate
the need to dress in Sunday clothes.
I’m finally coming down from
the mixed high my 50th High School Graduating Class reunion produced last
weekend. I’m hoping to get some photographs and reports from other members
of the class that I can share with you soon.
DISCOVERING SINATRA’S “A MAN ALONE”
Well, it is definitely the first of many beautiful dandelion days here on
the coast of California. So it was especially poignant that yesterday I
came across, by chance, a classic hardcover copy of Listen to the Warm AND
an LP I never even knew existed: Frank Sinatra's "A Man Alone," with Frank
singing your songs and speaking your words.
You cannot imagine the excitement when I laid the record down on my old
Magnavox. Can you tell me anything about making that record? Was it your
only collaboration with Sinatra? Great stuff!
I have been a McKuen applicator ("fan" sounds so splashy) for about ten
years, when I came across my first record, and I'm glad to see you're
still around and still Rod McKuen. I may be your youngest collector -- I
even have your double live LP.
I have a request, and you can disregard it if you want, but would it be
possible to get an autographed picture? Could you write, "Let's make every
day a dandelion day"? That has to be the line that has affected me the
most, believe it or not.
Thanks for letting me listen to the warm with you! Don Frades
Dear Don (or should I say “Dandelion Day Tripper), Thanks for the nice
letter. I’m glad you found Frank’s recording of “A Man Alone.” Everything
to do with it, from its inception through the production and continuing
life of it, was and is a labor of love.
I’ve written extensively about Sinatra and the album over the past several
years, so rather than revisit it here; scroll to the bottom of the page
and click The Archive button. Then, type in Frank Sinatra and you’ll have
plenty of reading ahead of you.
This month marks the third anniversary of Frank’s passing and it is
certainly an event that no one I know is celebrating. Thank God for modern
media. Where Sinatra is concerned there are six decades worth of priceless
recordings, radio transcriptions, and film and television appearances that
will make it impossible for coming generations to ignore the most
influential popular singer in history.
That offers some comfort to those of us that knew and loved the man and
many thousand hours of on-tap pleasure to his fans all over the world.
In addition to “A Man Alone” you can find “If You Go Away” on his “My Way”
album and his extraordinary rendition of “I’m Not Afraid" on his “Greatest
Hits, 2” CD. I wrote both of those songs with Jacques Brel.
Thanks for writing Don. Your photo is on the way. Warmest Regards, Rod
WHO’S POETRY HAVE YOU BEEN READING, LOLA?
thinks you spend too much time trying to get everything mapped in your
mind that you miss the point of the person. Woman is not just food for
your loins. We have so much more to offer. Now what did you have to offer
them. That is the rub?
How can you say you live in the moment, I think you are pulling the wool
over your own eyes.
Can you write a poem about a love, with out having sex in it?
Love is more then the sexual experience.
Love is sharing the whole of the person. And you know what the next line
was gonna say. I am being kind. Lola
Dear Lola, I haven’t a clue as to what the next line was going go say.
Sorry you’ve mistaken A Safe Place to Land for the Kama Sutra. The Rosary
Hour is also available on line & you might check that out. Cheers, Rod
PEPPERMINT WEST & OTHER PLACES
Rod: I live in London now and I went back to Hollywood near the site of
the old Peppermint West, has time obscured my mind or do I remember you
singing "If I had a Hammer"? there and on KCOP or somewhere like that?
I keep finding or being given copies of Stanyan St. and a lover emailed
your Oak poem.
I volunteer to look after a beautiful garden square in the center of
London and we have a Turkey Oak there that self seeded a few years ago,
that was brought to mind about that poem, it is on the edge of the square
in a lesser used spot reminiscent of your poem.
Come to London and lets have our picture taken with the oak.
I was very deeply moved by your poetry you are a great bard of our time. I
don't think I'm alone in that opinion. Cheers and God Bless. Jordan
Dear Jordan, Flattery will get you everywhere or nearly any place you want
to go. Thanks for the nice words.
It wasn’t your imagination, once long ago during the twist craze I played
joints like The Peppermint Lounge in New York and Peppermint West in Los
Angeles. There’s even a re-issue of an album “Mr. Oliver Twist” made at
the time, to prove it.
My past is forever catching up with me but unlike some that have moved on
to other things I regret nothing that has my name on it. I worked hard at
whatever I did and did it for the love of the work as well as to pay the
rent. Shaking my butt while belting out twist songs had its moments and
being a sexual object for a few minutes was quite a change for this
basically introverted chap.
The inspiration for the ‘Summertree Poems’ is still very much in evidence
so I have no doubt that more will flow from wherever they come from.
Be careful what you wish for Jordan, I just might show up in that London
Square of yours for the snapshot. If I can travel 3000 miles once or twice
a day to Atlanta via the Net, London should be no problem.
Thanks for writing and remembering, warmly Rod
THROUGH EUROPEAN WINDOWS
sorry to bother you with this, but I have exhausted all of the other
avenues that I can imagine. I am addicted to your album Through European
Windows, but my vinyl copy is worn despite loving care. Has it been or
will it ever be released as a CD? Thanks. Steve Nielsen
Dear Steve, I highly approve of your addiction. We have copies of the
vinyl version of “Through European Windows” at Stanyan By Mail. The album
will be released on CD as part of a 6 or 7 CD boxed set “Rod McKuen: The
RCA Years.” There is no way the project will be completed for release
until sometime late next year or maybe even late 2003. A lot of research
is going into that project. It will be very elaborate with extensive
notes, photos from the period, at least 20 tracks that have never been
released and many alternate takes. It will contain in addition to “Through
European Windows,” “The Loner.” “Other Kinds of Songs,” “Prolific Composer
Rod McKuen Sings His Own,” “The Single Man” and the double album of
“Listen to the Warm.”
You may have noticed that I have included very few of the RCA tracks in my
CD anthologies; I consider my 5 years with RCA a very pivotal period of my
recording life. Among other things I was coming out of a folk period and
became heavily influenced by the French chanson. I like the idea of it
being released as a body of work.
For the time being your best bet is the order the LP while it’s still
available. Thanks for asking, Cheers, Rod
Dear Rod, I
have searched for "The Earth" for many years, with no success. I noticed
that there was a listing for this on this website, however, there were no
Is this available in CD? if so - will you help me locate it for purchase?
I would also be interested in - the complete sea, the sky and for lovers.
thank you so much Jeannette Klein
Hi, I have read many of your books, and words cannot express how much my
husband and I have enjoyed them nor can I tell you how many enjoyable
hours we have spent quietly sitting and listening to your records. I was
so excited to find you have this web site and I immediately ordered some
However I could not find my most favorite album, “The Earth”
on cassette or on CD. Is it possible I have missed it? And is it
available on either? Please never stop writing you have a wonderful gift
that is enjoyed by so many, may I say Thank You Rod McKuen. Most
Dear Janet and Marian, I’ve just finished part one of a new in-depth
interview with Ken and he will be posting soon. It explains in some detail
the situation with the San Sebastian Strings CD’s.
There is no “Earth” CD but Stanyan By Mail has exactly 3 copies of the LP
left. The price is $12.85. Sorry I didn’t have better news for you on the
“Earth” CD. Warmly, Rod
THE WORLD I USED TO KNOW
book can I find the words to your poem, "The World I Used to Know?" I
recently heard it as recorded by Jimmie Rodgers and really liked it!
Thanks! M. N. Pipkin
Dear M.N., The lyrics to “The World I Used to Know” are contained in
“Listen to the Warm” and the songbook “Sold Out at Carnegie Hall.” The
vocal version is included in the following LP’s “In Concert,” “McKuen
Country,” “At Carnegie Hall,” “The Amsterdam Concert” and several Greatest
It’s also available on the CD’s “Early Harvest” & “The French Connection.”
Hope this helps. Sincerely, Rod
FOR A GIFT
Rod, Having checked out your web site I have to admit to vaguely
remembering your name from years back! The reason for the search is that a
friend would very much like a book of your poetry for her birthday. Are
all your books poetry books or can you possibly name a few for me that are
I liked what I saw on the web site so perhaps will explore it more at a
later date. Do you know if your books are available in the UK? Many thanks
and look forward to your reply Cari Green
Dear Cari, Most of my available books are poetry except for “An
Outstretched Hand" which is a mixture of poetry and prose.
There is a complete listing in the bibliography, but if she’s been a fan
for very long there’s no telling which books she may already have. Your
best bet would probably be the newest “A Safe Place to Land.”
There are no books currently available in the United Kingdom, but that
will change when and if I tour there again. All the best, Rod
THE RED RAVEN
Rod my old friend! I've thought of you often as I've listened to your soft
seductive voice and comforting words of love.
It's been so many years since our late night sightings of each other at
the busy 'Red Raven' in Hollywood. Who could forget that wonderful oasis
in the charming village of Hollywood, California. It was 1963 - we'd
occasionally share an admiring greeting and a few words as we passed
through the standing room only crowd.
Remember the occasional showing of Bugs Bunny/Porky Pig Cartoons like
'What’s Opera Doc'? I just found a copy on Video at Warner’s on a visit.
The Red Raven had to be one of the first to show short Cartoon films. Long
before Videos became the prime distraction at bars in Hollywood and San
I'm living in Palm Beach area now, but go back 'home' regularly on
business. I even drove by the Ravens old building last week on a L.A. and
Palm Springs visit. It's still there! Even had a hot dog at 'Pinks'!
Thinking about it - I was a frequent part of one of the cliques of
handsome men at that bar while 'House of the Rising Sun', 'Suspicion' and
the Beach Boys singing 'Don't Worry Baby' played endlessly. And Peter and
Gordons 'World Without Love' played too.
I hope I've I stirred a few memories of a frequently lonely, but lovely
time in your wonderfully poetic head! You still look great in the photo.
I'm Rob DeMars. We have common interests since, In the later 60s, I went
into the Music Business scouting acts into the 70s for Zappa’s production
and Publishing Company (Straight/Bizarre - Warners). Produce acts for
Columbia and hung out at the Troubadour - especially on Monday 'Hoot
Nights'. Great music – I discovered Tom Waits and Jackson Browne too -
took them to David Geffen at Asylum and worked with Zappa, Tim Buckley,
Linda Ronstadt and countless others during the wonderful Peace Movement
days! So much love of people and life.
The kid from Burbank High had his life changed by it all. It would be nice
to see you again Rod. Have a drink! Talk of old times! I've loved your
soft music and romantic insights ever since I found you again spinning on
those RCA LPs. Never knew how to contact you! Hope you're well. Robert
Dear Robert, Your letter brought back memories of an innocent time and
place where much of how and what I write today had its formation.
The Red Raven was one of my favorite watering holes and the three or
four-mile walk from my house on Gardner Street to ‘The Raven’ produced
some of my best early songs. I didn’t own a car or even know how to drive
those first years in Hollywood and I used to write while walking to and
from the bar. “I’ve Been to Town,” “Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name” and "You
Pass Me By” came from those walks.
The Red Raven had one of the best jukeboxes anywhere and for the price of
a single beer that could be nursed far into the night you could meet all
kinds of interesting people. If you were as introverted and afraid of
rejection as I was most of the time you could get off on just standing
around looking and listening.
I had the pleasure of taking Leonard Bernstein to the Raven to see some of
the Warner Bros. Symphonic cartoons. He had never seen any of them and
enjoyed himself immensely.
Pinks Hot Dog Stand still stands. If you watch Leno’s Jay Walking segments
many are filmed in front of Pinks. No matter what time of the day or night
you go there you have to wait in line.
Nice to hear you’ve been involved in the music business and at one of my
old stomping grounds, Warner’s. I note your E-mail address mentions Sammy
Kaye. Just used his version of “Remember Pearl Harbor” in a CD compilation
Again, Robert, thanks for the memories. Good luck till the next time we
- RM 05/17/2001
Booking for "An Evening with
Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for
Riverton Concert Details