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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Row with the current not the times.

 

And now a much needed return to the E-mail bag.

A LOVE STORY

Dear Rod McKuen, My name is Fredda Shuquist from Austin, Texas, but this story began in Dallas, September 1972.

Ed Shuquist and I, Fredda Scott, from Sweetwater, Texas,
had a “date” for a weekend in Dallas.... a big trip for a country girl like me. Let’s just say that weekend turned into such a beautiful experience unlike anything else we have ever experienced since! Edward missed the National Softball finals that he had dreamed of going to all his life and we discovered what it means to find your true soul mate and lose all consciousness of the world outside as you laugh and love and cry and love some more.

The next time I saw Edward, his gift to me was an 8-track (yes,
8-track!) by you with a song dedicated to me. The words, “Bend down and touch me with your eyes; let every morning hold a new surprise” came softly and beautifully out of an8-track portable cassette player on a quiet country road and has been THE SONG for us.

Sometime after that (not sure of the date, but before we married in 1974), Edward took me to see you in concert somewhere in the Dallas area...... we sat in the front row and OUR SONG was the first one you sang......... of course, I cried like a baby! We were dressed to go out afterward, but the sky had opened up and was sending down torrents of rain on us as we held hands and as we laughed and ran with the enthusiasm of young lovers to our car..... Dripping wet, we picked up hamburgers and went back to our room..... To us, it was a very romantic, meaningful night to remember.

We married in 1974, and on New Year’s Eve 1975, a fire nearly destroyed our home, but most of all, that beloved 8-track was still there, but warped beyond repair. I was heartbroken, and a good friend took out the tape and tried to redo it for me.... I was just not open to a new tape. But alas, this was not to work out very good and I had to let it go. Many years later, Edward wanted to go for a ride on Valentine’s Day....... there were no flowers, no candy, no mention of the special day, but, instead, he drove to a place on a hill overlooking the lights of Austin.

I said, “You mean, after all these years, we are going to park and make-out?” He only smiled and pushed a cassette in to play....... IT WAS THAT SONG! He had finally found that song somewhere and saved it for that day. ONCE again, Rod McKuen was there for us.

Today, I am 55 and Ed is 62 ----- he has Rheumatoid Arthritis and, so far, has had his knees replaced (successfully) and just recently, painful shoulder surgery to repair arthritic damage and patch up a tear. This is such an emotional year for so many in the world and money cannot buy what I need to express to my husband how much he means to me. We got married on June 8th, 1974, but September 8, 1972 is something we celebrate every year.... promise! You have been a part of our lives all these years and I thank you from the bottom of my heart..

IF YOU HAVE TIME, could you reply to me with just a little note..... maybe just “Merry Christmas, Ed” or whatever and let me put your email in a little package to him. Only he and I and You will know the significance of this. Time to wipe away the tears and get busy....... he is trying to help me with Christmas, but it is hard with a bum arm ! GOD BLESS YOU. Always, Fredda & Ed Shuquist


Dear Fredda (and Edward), As anyone even slightly familiar with this website knows, I’m crazy about love stories – especially when they involve songs of mine. So, I hope you don’t mind my sharing your story with my friends who read the Flight Plan.

Nice to know the spark of love the two of you ignited 30 years ago is still blazing. I can’t imagine growing old without being able to share my joys, sorrows, aches and pains with someone I care about and one who feels the same toward me.

These are difficult times – but love has a way of cutting through it all. My love and best wishes to both of you.

A DATE IN THE UK

Hi Rod, When are you coming to the UK? My partner Elizabeth is a big fan as I indeed am. Elizabeth saw you and indeed met you on one occasion in the early70`s in London, She introduced me to your music and poetry. Indeed my favourite is “ Open The Window, See All The Clowns”.

We have a wonderful venue here in Scotland, It’s called “The Regal” and it’s in Bathgate, west Lothian. It’s very intimate and hasn’t changed in the past century. We could finesse the venue if you could handle getting here! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Much affection, Dave & Elizabeth Miles.


Dear Dave and Elizabeth, You don’t have to ask me twice to come to Scotland! For some time my concert manager and friend Jerry Lonn has been working on a UK tour. It may yet happen if he can put the right promoters together. At any rate I’ve forwarded your letter on to him & I’ll bet he’ll be in touch with you.

You can bet that when I do visit the UK and Bathgate in particular I won’t forget to include “Open the Window & See All the Clowns” on the program. My warmest wishes to you both for the holidays and long beyond, Rod.

AND TO EACH SEASON

Dear Mr. McKuen, for the last hour I’ve been playing AND TO EACH SEASON. I’ve listened to this song at different stages of my life and received much comfort from it. And today, no longer a bachelor, it brings a great beauty to my fulfilled mind.

I wish I could ask you how it feels to have created a Masterpiece of music and word? Sincerely, Garry Gust



Dear Gary, Thanks for the kind words. “And to Each Season” is one of those songs that came along easily. I wrote it in a single afternoon and there were no revisions.

I’m not sure it qualifies as “a masterpiece” but I’m proud that it works on many different levels as a song. My best to you Gary and to those you love and care about.

PETULA: YOU BETTER LOVE ME

Dear Rod, As one who also relishes the voice of Ms. Clark, perhaps you can find or help me find a missing song of hers. When her single “Downtown” was released in the middle sixties, we had a copy of it on 45. Since it was on the radio every five minutes anyway, I got to turning over to the “B” side and playing a song, I believe was titled, “You’d Better Love Me While You May”. It was a beautiful song and was unfortunately not included in any of the albums I have ever seen. Question: would you know anything about the song, who wrote it, and most importantly is there an album or CD of Ms. Clark singing it?

As for you friend, thanks for all you do for the rest of us. I am looking forward to your appearing in the Dallas area some day. In that vein, who could I contact in this area to ask a promoter to bring you to Dallas? Thanks for your poems, books, and the gracious autographs. God bless you and Merry Christmas to you and yours. Robert Sadler


Dear Robert. Petula has recorded so many great songs and “You Better Come Home” is certainly one of them. You’re right it hasn’t been anthologized very often but I’m pleased to inform you that it’s available on a new UK import entitled “The Spirit of Today.”

Her new disc also contains alternate takes of “For All We Know,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and a song I wrote especially for her, “The Wind of Change.” The 21 songs even include her hard to find 1976 remake of “Downtown” and the first UK release of our duet on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Because the disc is an import (Castle CMRCD 377) your best bet for locating it in the US might be the New York & LA branches of Tower or Virgin records. You might even be able to order it from Pet’s website.

As for a Texas tour, let’s hope it happens soon. You might be able to speed it along by following the link on The Home Page to “Jerry Lonn.” Hope all of this helps. Cheers & Happy Holidays, Rod.

SO MY SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE

Dear Mr. McKuen, Our class is learning your song “So My Sheep May Safely Graze” for our Winter Concert, and we’re wondering a few things:

Casi: how did you feel when you wrote this song?
Katlen: where did you get the inspiration to write your song?
Nicole: why did you write it ?
Jason: when did you write the song?
Michael: where do you live?

Thank you. Mrs. Cathy Byle K-12 Music Elkton. OR.

Dear Casi, Katlin, Nicole, Jason, Michael & Mrs. Byle, I’m delighted that you’ll be singing “So My Sheep May Safely Graze” in your winter concert. If you make a tape or recording of it, don’t forget to send me a copy.

Here’s the information you asked for: In 1975 I decided to do a whole album of completely new Christmas songs (New Carols for Christmas). I wanted them to be as varied as possible in themes and in the way they were recorded. On one session I planned to use a children’s chorus and for some reason the line “Come sheep, come, I’ll count you one by one” got into my head and wouldn’t stop rattling around till I had completed “So My Sheep May Safely Graze.”

I did record it with a 36 member children’s choir and The London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was written in the fall of 1975 and inspired by biblical names in The New Testament. It was a fairly easy song to write once I got the basic chorus down. I imagined that first Christmas and The Wise Men passing by shepherds on their way to Bethlehem.

I live in very sunny (especially today) Southern California with four cats (KubbyKat II, Dinah, Rocky & Sunny) and my brother Edward who in addition to everything else handles most of my business affairs.

Good luck with The Winter Concert & let me know how it turns out. Thanks again for singing “Sheep.” Happy Christmas & Luv, Rod.

DESIRE HAS NO SPECIAL TIME

I remember this was the name of an album or a song from an album. This is from more years ago than I wish to admit. Is it still available? One song had a jackhammer sound and another was about roses. I really liked some of the songs and would like to get a copy. Thanks for your interest. Sincerely, Tony Schreiber

Dear Tony, Alas too many people know one of my very first albums by that title. Desire Has No Special Time is a rip off (bootleg album) of “Time of Desire.” There may be a few copies of the reissue of the original available on LP from Stanyan By Mail but it’s otherwise out of print.

While a number of my early albums are scheduled for release on CD in the coming year there are no plans for a compact disc version of “Time of Desire” anytime soon. You might enjoy “Beatsville” as album from the same period that is available now with additional tracks. All my best to you, Tony.

DROWNED WORLD (No substitute for Love)

Hi Rod, I have a question. Of course, you do not have to respond, but I’m terribly curious to whether this is true or not. I have heard this rumor that you are the voice saying “you’ll see” on Madonna’s “Ray of light” album; on the song, “Drowned World/Substitute For Love.” Is this your voice? Wow! Thank you for your time Mr.  Chris Meyer

Dear Chris, You’re close. The recurring voice on “Drowned World” belongs to Jessie Pearson who voiced The Sea” series I did with Anita Kerr & The San Sebastian Strings. It comes from the track “Why I Follow the Tigers” and both songs contain the same plot line.

Madonna does a terrific job on the song and I was happy and surprised when she named her recent world tour after “Drowned World." Kindest regards & holiday wishes, Rod.

SONGS THAT WON THE WAR

Dear Rod, I can’t seem to find the CD, “Songs that Won the War” I hope to get a couple for Christmas. Just where can I find them? Thanks, Lola

The original 10 CD’s that comprised “Songs That Won the War” are out of print but three albums release this year “Remember Pearl Harbor,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” & “Christmas Jump & Jive" are available through “Stanyan By Mail” at $10.00 each.

Nearly a dozen albums are being put together for future entries in the ‘Songs That Won the War’ series. Happy Holidays Lola, As ever, Rod.

KALEIDOSCOPE

Dear Mr. McKuen: I would like very much to have the words of your song “Kaleidoscope.” I would like to know what color you said the color of HOPE is. I believe it was “green is the color, the color of hope.” I appreciate your work, and did not realize that I can still purchase it.

I work for a new initiative in the inner city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I am designing a logo and I want it to be the color of HOPE. I also like the kaleidoscope idea, and would like to combine the effects of both. I am not a performer, and I understand copyright laws. The information would only be used as an idea for our logo. Sincerely Ann Thomson, the Halifax Inner City Initiative, Halifax, NS


Dear Ann, Though I don’t quite say so in the song, green is indeed the color of hope. I love your idea of incorporating the song into the logo.

Over the years there have been a number of recordings other than mine of “Kaleidoscope, “ including versions by Greta Keller, Glenn Yarborough and Judith Durham. I’m particularly fond of Petula Clark’s French reading of it. Based on the number of letters we get around here concerning the song I wouldn’t be surprised if before long it’s added to the list of downloadable tracks.

Here, thanks to Jay Hagan is the text of my jazz-waltz “Kaleidoscope." If I can be of any further help let me know.
Greetings of the season and thanks, Rod. PS: “Kaleidoscope” turns 42 in March


Kaleidoscope
Words & Music by Rod McKuen


(verse, 1)
Come with me, what wonders we’ll find
the ducks on the millpond that swim in the mind
come with me, together we’ll go
where buttercups shoot through
the roof of the snow
and many the sights that we’ll see
I’ll look in your eyes and see me.

(chorus)
K. I. Kaleidoscope
love is another color from hope
pain is a separate color from joy
how many colors there are to enjoy.

(verse, 2)
Come with me, through valleys of green
we’ll live like the mud lark
deep down in a dream
come with me, take hold of my hand
I’ll walk you past panthers asleep in the sand
how lucky some people will be
to look in our eyes and see we.

(chorus)
K. I. Kaleidoscope
love is another color from hope.
Pain is a separate color from joy,
how many colors there are to enjoy.

(verse, 3)
Come with me, stay close by my side
the road is so rocky, the world is so wide
come with me, and we will go far
far is forever, wherever we are
how wide is our world and how new
I’ll look in your eyes and see you.

(chorus)
K. I. Kaleidoscope
love is another color from hope
pain is a separate color from joy
how many colors there are to enjoy.

K. I. Kaleidoscope
love is another color from hope.
Pain is a separate color from joy...
how many colors there are to enjoy.

1968 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen

MY FAVORITE SONG

Rod, I am writing you from Marathon Fla. I am visiting my brother Jack down here. We are big fans of yours. Of Jack’s 3 favorite songs of all time, 2 were written by you. “Love’s Been Good To Me” and “The World I Used To Know”. I think these are great as well.

Just curious... which song that you wrote is your favorite Rod McKuen song? Also, of any song that you didn’t write, do you have an all time favorite? Thanks so much for the great music. Keep it coming Bill Walter & Jack Walter


Dear Bill & Jack: Of all the questions I might be asked, you certainly picked one of the toughest for me to answer. My songs are like my kids, it’s hard to play favorites. I love nearly all of them and for many different reasons. Some because they came easy and seemed right the first time, others are favored because they took real work.

I’m usually fond of something I’ve just written but then again I like the orphans; those songs that haven’t become as popular or well known as the so called ‘hits.’

“Love’s Been Good to Me” and “The World I Used to Know” have a special place in my heart because they seem to touch so many different kinds of people. They both come from what I like to think of as my ‘folk' period.

I’ll try not to dodge the question completely by telling you that “I’ve Been to Town,” “People Change,” “Three,” “To You,” “About the Time,” “The Far Side of the Hill” and “Solitude’s My Home” are among those songs of mine I enjoy singing.

As far as songs from the pens of other writers go, give me anything by Johnny Mercer. “When the World Was Young,” ”PS I Love You.” “Once Upon a Summertime” and “Moon River” come to mind at once. My affection to both of you, Rod.

THANKS

I just wanted to write and thank you for your beautiful recordings and poetry. I have been a fan for many years, in fact, it is because of your beautiful, soulful music that I am even alive today. In my youth I had many dark times in my life and had it not been for your recordings, it’s doubtful that I would be here today, much less the person I am today. I have not achieved fame or fortune, just a better soul because you have shared your gift with the world.

Again, thank you and I hope that some day we may meet – on a street, in a coffee shop, who knows, it would be wonderful to be able to thank you in person and have a visit. Stay well and God bless. Joan Mullen


Dear Joan, your letter is a delightful early Christmas present. It’s thanks to you and all the other fans and friends out there that I have a platform in the first place. The merriest Christmas to you and your friends and many happy years ahead. Warmly, Rod.

Join Ken tomorrow with his weekly This One Does It For Me feature and I’ll see you on Thursday. Sleep warm.

RM 12/18/2001 Previously unpublished.

THE FINAL WORD

Today it belongs to Edward.

“When I was younger I hated going to weddings ...it seemed that all of my aunts and the grandmotherly types used to come up to me, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, ‘You’re next.’

They stopped that crap after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.”

notable birthdays Christine Aguilera o “Stone Cold” Steve Austin o Abe Burrows o Ty Cobb o Ossie Davis o Robert Fryer o Betty Grable o Robson Green o Katie Holmes o Celia Johnson o Ray Liotta o Heather Mackinnon o Leonard Maltin o Anita O’Day o Brad Pitt o Keith Richards o Saki o Earl “DMX” Simmons o Steven Spielberg o Roger Smith o Antonio Stradivarius o Casper Van Dien
Rod's random thoughts Always look toward the stars. The gutter is too easy an alternative.

Love is such an unusual and complete gift no one can write a proper thank you note for receiving it or praise it enough for what it really is.

Temper ought to be tempered by compassion.

THREE DECEMBER POEMS

1. A Letter

Dear Santa Clause
This year I’d like the best
To see my fellow man
Give his fists and guns
And tongue a rest.

2. Conscience

The world holds dangers
darker than the dentist's chair
love is still the eye
of anything worthwhile
                 or worth having
and so we keep that one eye open.

And knowing that it goes by
multitudes of attitudes and names
it's wise to learn and not forget
the favorite name for love is conscience.

Conscience being the first thing
Christ conceived for us
must mean love is Christmas
by another name.

3. R. S. V. P. / 1969

Did you forget
that once before
we stood our Christmas
         distance
and Christmas close,
would be too much
for me to bear again.

#1 from “The 1972 Rod McKuen Calendar.” #’s 2 & 3 from “The Carols of Christmas,” 1971

 
© 1968, 1976, 1989, 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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