Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
A Thought for Today
We are rich or poor not because of what we have or do not have, but because of what we are.
I confessed not long ago that I’m a sucker for love stories. Not ‘boy meets girl, woos her, gets her and they live happily ever after’ stories but those sagas that are a bit more complicated and take a lot of effort and time to finally work out.
Happiness always seems to be in such short supply that tales of obstacles overcome on the way to true love never fail to give me a special kick. And you can bet I’m proud and pleased when couples confess to me that one of the first things they had in common was an appreciation of my work.
Last week the mail produced (from two very different parts of the world) two love conquers all stories that I’ve been reveling in. The first is concise and to the point, the second rambles a bit but I wouldn’t dream of editing it.
Hi Rod, My wife and I met you at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago in the summer of '68. I was working in the area at the time. We were also going through a divorce. I asked her to come up for a weekend and she refused until I played my trump card. I told her that you were appearing there and she promptly asked when she should come up.
Even though we have three kids, you were the only thing that we could see eye to eye about at the time. She came to Chicago, we met you, had a memorable weekend by taking in your shows on Friday and Saturday night. You gave her an autographed copy of the album "Listen to the Warm", and as she had broken a heel off one of her shoes and was carrying
them, you dubbed her your Barefoot Contessa.
Since that time, we got the divorce, remarried, divorced again, remarried again, separated a few times, got back together and next week, will be married for 47 years (off & on). We still have the album and a Mr. Kelly's menu that you also autographed as prized possessions.
Things are pretty good now, and I credit your writings of love, inner peace, and commitment for that. I'm really grateful that I found your website and will continue to access peace and serenity from it. Thank you so much for you. Sam Robison
Dear Mr. McKuen! I don’t have a question for you and yet I have many, but the reason for writing this E-mail is to tell you a little story. My name is Finn D. Nielsen, I’m 46 years of age and live in Denmark.
In July 1969, just a few short days before man landed on the moon for the first time, I met the love of my life, Bodil. We were just kids but fell in love in a way I can’t explain, but we still are!
Her home became my home, I loved her parents and sister and brother very much. Her little brother was my "soul mate" - and still is.
For one reason or another it all came to an end after 7 years, but I never forgot her, never! The last night we were together we talked about Kris Kristofferson´s song "For the good times" - and cried. We both knew somehow that we were not through with each other. Nevertheless we traveled to two different stars and did not see each other for the next 23 years!
We both married a couple of years after we split up, but neither of us has been really happy I’m sorry to say. Both Bodil and I were always interested in music, close to our hearts were
songs with good lyrics. We always tried to understand the lyrics, write them down and I even tried to figure out the chords as I was playing the guitar.
We liked country music, for example the likes of Tom T. Hall, Merle Haggard, Jim Reeves, Bobby Bare and Glen Campbell.
We had several albums by Glen Campbell and he had lots of somehow different tunes like "The world I used to know" and several others, so we checked out who wrote those wonderful and different songs,
of course you know the answer: "Rod McKuen!"
We wanted to know more about this wonderful writer so we checked out our local library and found not only a couple of songbooks with lyrics and guitar chords (I would never have been able to figure out the chords myself). We even found a concert recording by you on 2 LP´s! I can tell you one thing: "You had us under your spell!" We played the record, not speaking ONE word, until we listened to the last track on the album. Since then we looked up all we could that had anything to do with the song writing of Rod McKuen....
However even Rod McKuen couldn’t keep us together. I’m sorry to say we split up.
23 years later Bodil´s brother called me. It was the spring of 1999 - 30 years after Bodil and I met for the first time. Soon after I got a letter from Bodil while sitting in my office and in just 2 seconds I was back in 1969. Dear Mr. McKuen we fell in love all over again just writing. We wrote dozens of letters before we saw each other again
When we finally did meet it was just SO EASY - like we had never been away from each other! In one of my first letters to Bodil I used one of your lines, from my favorite Rod McKuen song... "Words
have no more wisdom when it’s time to say
It’s funny because Bodil´s little brother wrote me a note saying, "Hey Finn I found a faded paper with your handwriting, it’s that wonderful song "Love ´s been good to me" - and then he used my favorite line: "Words have no...."
I used to play the guitar and sing, but I haven’t done so for the last 15-20 years. But after I met Bodil and all her family again I went out and bought a guitar and found my old "songbook" written by hand from 1969-1976 - and included are a lot of Rod McKuen songs. It was just great to sing and play them again, I’ve been to town, The way it was before, The world I used to
know, Love’s been good to me and lots of others!
During those 23 years Bodil didn’t have much contact with the music of McKuen. I bought some LP´s and CD’s recently and tonight we played several songs and got in a very special mood - like way back then- and even more. It was impossible to listen to your songs without getting tears in our eyes. Your music mixed with way back then, it was unbelievable.
To "end" the story we are getting married on June 2 this year. Two years after Bodil wrote me the first letter. Mr. McKuen you’ve been a great part of our love story and we want to thank
you for so much and wish you all the best. We will follow you on you web page. (We’ll print out all your poems from the page)
Well, Mr. McKuen if you got this far you know there is no question for you to answer but off course we´d be more than happy for a word or two from you sometime in the future...
Love from Finn and Bodil
PS. I’ve been looking the last 20 years for an album called "McKuen Country" - but never been able to find it... so if you got a box full of them, I´d like to buy one.
There isn’t much I can add to either letter other than to say I look forward to seeing Sam and ‘The Barefoot Contessa' again as I’m sure I will. And to wish Bodil and Finn twice the happiness in their new life together to make up for the years they’ve missed. Thanks for sharing. Love, Rod
PS: ‘McKuen Country’s’ on the way, Finn.
A FINAL WORD
Today is the great writer, wit, musician and comic actor Dudley Moore’s 66th birthday. Moore is suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy for which there is no cure. He was diagnosed in November of 1999 and even while battling this rare degenerative brain syndrome he has worked tirelessly to bring public attention to this little known and seldom discussed condition. I know all of you join me in sending kind thoughts and prayers his way. Happy Birthday, Dudley, your talent and humanness inspire all of us.
RM 4/18/2001 Previously unpublished
Summer concert just announced!
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