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       ASK ROD

"You scratch my back & I'll scratch yours" by Bob Gentry 
2001 by Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

The eye is the only honest artist.
-from "Letters to the Painter."


Good Morning, Edward has been in Utah skiing and so I've had a solid week of pretty much being left alone. I haven't left the house, answered the phone or entertained in any way. What I have been able to do is get a lot of work done. Not enough, but I have managed to chip away a little a stack of 'to be done' that doesn't look too much smaller. 

I'm still struggling with mail downloaded in December and the first two weeks of January so if I haven't gotten to your letter yet, my apologies.


Hi Rod, Just a quick question, will you have any new CD's or maybe a new book and other stuff available at the concert in Aurora? I don't know if anyone else has asked yet, and just wanted to be sure I bring extra cash to buy one of everything! Much Love, Rand From: Randi MacWilliams 

Dear Randy, You bet there will be something for sale at the concerts. And, wish me luck, I'm working hard at readying something very unexpected for its debut at the concerts. It's an item that no one has yet seen, but if I pull it off it should be quite a surprise.

The 'surprise in the works' not withstanding, there will be other McKuen "stuff." 


Rod, this old man is just passing through. I pulled your CD, The 25th Anniversary Edition of 'Sold Out.' On a whim, I called you up on Google and there you were. I'm a few years your senior, but my bride of 45 years and I have enjoyed your music and poetry from the early years of our marriage. Just wanted you to know that we consider you a special man and talent. Will now get back to reading some more of the material on your site. Hang tough, old man...we're survivors! Max Selby

Dear Max, I'm delighted that while "passing through," you and your spring bride paused at ASPTL. And, I hope you'll find reasons to stop here often.

If you like the "Carnegie Hall Sold Out" album, you might like to know that going through the tape vaults downstairs in the studio I discovered a live recording that I think tops them all. It was taped with full orchestra during an appearance I made at Nashville's 'Grand Ol' Opry' and has 40 songs. I'm about to sign a non - exclusive contract with a major label and if I can get it edited in time, I hope it will be my first CD with the label.

I hadn't heard the concert since it was recorded and it turns out to be a memoir of an evening when everything went absolutely right. I was in good voice, backed by a great orchestra of Nashville's finest conducted by Stan Freeman. I can't wait to get into the studio to edit it. Thanks again for stopping by, Max, and all the best to you. All the very best, Rod 


rod. i have been reading the archives dating back from "98 forward-i happened upon a flight plan regarding depression it's funny but usually when someone feels low they look to make themselves feel upbeat with something loud and vibrant i on the other hand have always found that you have been the reason that i keep my sanity listening to sad and profound words that some how really tell it like it really is i feel so secure in knowing that i am not alone in my feelings and you seem to write what i feel

it's been a rough road but i believe that god you speak of has lead me safely down the first half mile thank you happy new year jo

Dear Jo, And a very happy and healthy 2001 to you.

Glad to hear that you are able to hold your depression in check. It doesn't matter how you get relief, but that you do. Since we each control our own destiny, it's up to us to combat illness just as we would confront anything else that threatens our well being. Getting help is only part of the solution, staying healthy and not relapsing into the pool of depression is the other part. Hang in there. You can do it. Warmly, Rod


Dear Rod, I'm sure you have received thousands of new years messages, and I want to add mine to the pile. I love your new photo--What a handsome man you are! My heartfelt thank you for all the hard work you do. My day always includes you in some way, whether it is this site or one of your poems and sometimes some of your music. My very best wishes to you for the most wonderful year you have ever experienced. May you always be blessed with good health, love, peace and friendship. With admiration, Judy P.

Season's Greetings my friend. I have read your column going on four years now and thought it was high time I write. I love the Christmas picture you have given us this year of you and Father Christmas. I can see the boy in you waiting for Christmas morning in the picture. I hope you see the New Year in with good health and spirit. I will be one of the many cooking my beans in the morn. Have a wonderful holiday and keep up the writing. A friend always, jen

Dear Judy and Jeri, Thanks for the lovely thought. I send love and good wishes back to both of you and to those you love in spades. Warmly, Rod


Hi, It was with great delight that I read that you are doing live concerts. I live in St. Charles, Mo. (right outside of St. Louis). I would love to attend the Illinois concert, but I need to know where I can buy the tickets. Is it possible to buy them on-line or is there a number that I can call?

Thank you for all of the happiness you and your poetry has brought me through the years. Judith 

Dear Judith, Thanks to Webmaster Ken, there are two easy ways to find ticket information on concerts and other appearances. He includes a button link near the end of every Flight Plan and a similar link on the Home Page. Both take you to the same site that offers complete ticket information and a list of venues.

By the way, Judith, have you tried out Ken's new Site Map? It makes navigating the behemoth that A Safe Place To Land has become a breeze. Cheers, Rod


Dear Rod, I have been a big fan of your work for quite a while now, although being twenty-two I'm a little young to remember the 60s and 70s when you were one of the preeminent poets, singers and songwriters. You still are that amazing talent, in my opinion, but it's also funny how I first became acquainted with your work, because it's not by your famous poems.

It was through the film A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and I always adored the three songs you wrote for the film. I've had a passion for musicals of any sort since about 5th grade, but I remember how I loved Failure Face even before I identified that passion. In fact, I love it so much I'll sing it when I'm blue. My mother has on several occasions caused me to laugh a lot when she tells me how terrible she thinks the lyric is. It's funny because she means the cruel things the three girls are saying to Charlie, which are terrible but your lyrics are great character lyrics.

Anyway, I'm writing this email to you to ask if you may have any more complex arrangements of the songs from A Boy Named Charlie Brown. For a long time, due to the fact the Pointer easy piano selections were not mentioned in the book Cinema Sheet Music, which supposedly had just about every movie in the U.S. listed that had music published, I didn't know and couldn't figure out why the music to a well-known film like that wasn't published.

Then I eventually found the Pointer selections on interlibrary loan through the college I was going to. They are competent arrangements, and I noticed your Champion Charlie Brown was even included in a couple of your song books (which makes the omission of it in that movie sheet music reference guide more puzzling) with the arrangement from the music I have.

So I'm guessing there may not be any other arrangements I could use if I wanted to sing those songs in concert or in private. But if you have any more complex accompaniments and could send me a copy, I'd greatly appreciate it. If you advise that you have more complex arrangements and would send them, I'll give you my address. If not, just let me know and I'll use the arrangements in the Pointer book.

At any rate, thanks so much for giving me so much joy not just with A Boy Named Charlie Brown but with your recordings (the rendition you do of "The Folks Who Live On The Hill" gets me emotionally every time in a very good way), poetry and songs. Hope you're having a Happy New Year. Sincerely, Ryan A. Scott

Dear Ryan, I'm glad you liked the lyrics to my songs from "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Working with Charles Schulz and the film's animator, Bill Melendez, was a dream come true. I'll never forget their many kindnesses to me. Both became good friends and Sparky's death was a great personal loss for me.

Lee Mendolsohn, who produced my NBC TV Special, did the same for "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" and a number of other films he invited me to write scores and songs for.

"Failure Face" was a difficult assignment, but as always in such cases I try to put myself in the shoes of the protagonist (in this case I became "Lucy" and I think it worked. I love the story of you and your mom, viz a vie the song.

I wish I could say that more interesting and challenging arrangements exist for my songs and for "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," but alas the song folios are designed to be easy and straightforward for the widest possible appeal. That disappoints me because in the songbooks devoted to my songs I'm used to a bit more variety in the arrangements. Certainly my own recordings of the songs from the films, blessed with arrangements by Arthur Greenslade and others, are a bit more complex. Bob Gentry, of Moisture, sings the title song as a gentle blues number.

If you like "all musicals" you might get a kick out of my songs for "Joanna" and "Emily." Neither was meant to be a musical, but of course I didn't see it that way. The soundtrack LP's and a CD of "Joanna" are available from Stanyan By Mail as are all the songbooks.

Here's a partial list of the songbooks:

The Songs of Rod McKuen, Vol. 1
The Songs of Rod McKuen, Vol. 2
Through European Windows
Frank Sinatra Sings Rod McKuen
Sold Out at Carnegie Hall

For a crash course in my movie songs try the CD "McKuen at the Movies" it contains 21 of my songs including my favorite "The Ivy That Clings to the Wall" - written for, but not used in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." It's also available from Stanyan By Mail, as is the Pointer folio containing the songs and themes from "A Boy Named Charlie Brown."

Hope all of this is of some help, Ryan. Sincerely and grateful for your interest, Rod


Hi Rod, What an amazing website you have and how sad for me that I didn't discover it sooner!!

Like Brita Beeson of Ettalong Australia, I discovered "Love Songs -20 Favourites" in the discount bin of a K-Mart store over 20 years ago. Already a fan of yours, I took the record home and played it daily, over and over again. I loved every song but the one which evoked the strongest emotions was "Sleep Warm".

Eventually, I wore the record out but over the years picked several second hand copies up at 'flea markets'. I have kept a record player to this day simply to play this record!

For the past seven years, I have scoured music stores in every state of Australia and many Asian cities for your albums. This has led to a reasonable collection of your CDs but I could never find the elusive "Sleep Warm".

Last month, I wandered into a small store close to where I was working for a short time and as usual, asked if they had any Rod McKuen albums.

To my delight, I walked away with three of your albums and one of them had "Sleep Warm"!!

I have since introduced (and in some cases re-introduced) your music to every visitor to my home over the Christmas season (and there have been many). The response has been amazing. My 22-year-old son, in a radical departure from his normal style, is totally hooked as are many of the young adult "children" of my friends. No matter what their age or musical taste, everyone that I play your music for is overwhelmed by your voice and lyrics. You are an INSTANT hit!

Rod (you must hear this all the time now that you are on the web), you have been like a special secret friend to me in all my happiest and darkest hours for a quarter of a decade. Unbeknown to you, your lyrics and poetry have touched me and helped to form me into the person I am today - a person that I like being.

Have you considered coming back to Australia? I would cross this great continent to hear you if you ever graced us with another concert.

Thank you so much for the joy and warmth you have given me over the years. I hope 2001 is a wonderful year for you and your loved ones and that your concerts are sell outs. Best wishes always Sue Lawrie

Dear Sue, You really are nice to write such a thoughtful letter.

"Love Songs," was a smash album by Australian standards. It was only advertised and available via TV in Oz and sold over 200,000 copies. You and Brita might be interested to know that most of the songs from that set, including "Sleep Warm" are now available on "McKuen Platinum" the 2 CD import from Korea that contains 45 tracks, all remastered in 24 bit digital. (For a complete listing of titles see the link to Stanyan By Mail.)

You can put away that scratchy LP, though don't ditch your turntable because Stanyan has a lot of interesting stuff that has so far only been issued on LP.

I'm grateful that you've introduced your fiends and particularly your 22-year-old son to my recordings. Passing the things I've worked so hard on to other generations is important to me. Like any artist, I'd like to have as many people as possible get the chance to accept or reject my words and music.

Thanks for continuing to care. With affection, Rod


T. J. has it for today.


A couple of nuns who were nursing sisters had gone out to the
country to minister to an outpatient. On the way back they were
a few miles from home when they ran out of gas. They were
standing beside their car on the shoulder when a truck approached.

Seeing ladies of the cloth in distress, the driver stopped to offer his help. The nuns explained they needed some gas. The driver of the truck said he would gladly drain some from his tank, but he didn't have a bucket or can.

One of the nuns dug out a clean bedpan and asked the driver if he could use it. He said yes, and proceeded to drain a couple of quarts of gas into the pan. He waved goodbye to the nuns
and left. 

The nuns were carefully pouring the precious fluid into their gas tank when the highway patrol came by. The trooper stopped and watched for a while, then he said: "Sisters, I don't think it will work, but I sure do admire your faith!"

The end of the week again and that means tomorrow is the day for Pass It Along. "It" being all the things left over in the E-box after most of the letters that start off "Dear Rod" have been attended to. See you then. Sleep warm.

                        RM 1/14/2001 Previously unpublished                                 

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays David Bellamy o Philip Bos o Mark Collie o Kevin Costner o Jonathan Davis o Curt Flood o Bobby Goldsboro o Berthold Goldschmidt o Cary Grant o Oliver Hardy o Jane Horrocks o Brett Hudson o Danny Kaye o Jessie L. Martin o A.A. Milne o Constance Moore o Peter Roget o David Ruffin (The Temptations) o Daniel Webster
Rod's random thoughts Hope is the pilot-light of life.

Failure is as certain as success, but neither final.

Help is always on the way, but most of us keep our eyes closed.


Here we are.
Here we go.
To come to settle 
             once again
in California
        or Australia.
I know not where,
you have in mind.
I only know
that since 
       the coming of April
my life has turned 
a different way.

Do not be afraid
because things
           happened quickly.
Who said that men
should take their time.
I know you now enough
for both of us
and if I have to
bend my back
or sell my smile
I'll provide oysters,
and time enough
to smother each of us
      and both of us.

Trust me.

If your tastes
should run to crumbs
and beer in barrels
I'll work hard enough
to make it work.

We'll need a little time
              but very little,
for time has suddenly become
                    an enemy.

I have no fear
                of age
not yours and mine,
but I am in a hurry
to keep all the promises,
              all the promises
I've made to myself
on your behalf
            and my behalf.
Those promises and more.

Come with me to California
or tell me that I need
to move to Sydney.
We need to be together.
Five-thirty to five-thirty
          is not enough.
I need you more.
I want you end to end
and end on end.

Hurry November.

- from Folio No. 6, Summer 1975.
1984, 1988, 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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