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A Thought for Today

Though the gift be small and simple, if the wish is wide, just the simple gift of giving makes you warm inside.


This letter from Ann arrived before the excitement of the concerts earlier this month.

Hi Ken,

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the upcoming Thousand Oaks concert, (well, actually, I spend ALL my time thinking about it but who's counting). Been thinking about the songs I'd like to hear again and "Through European Windows" is near the top of the list (well, actually, so are about a hundred more but who's counting). The album of the same name also includes another favorite, "Song Without Words". 

The liner notes on the 1967 album have this quote from Morgan Ames, High Fidelity:

"Rod McKuen, who sings and writes all his material, is a strange and powerful talent. His songs have grown in quality till one might say that he's now in full stride. McKuen's voice, rough edged around a soft center, has grown more relaxed and free..." 

It was true in 1967 and it's true today. 


Thanks for your contribution, Ann, and here's your first choice.


You might have seen me down in Spain
running down the Spanish plains
or beside the seas of Barcelona.
Living like the seagulls do
summer to summer, dune to dune
watching as the tide went rolling over.
Through European windows you might have 
      seen me.

Down in the park where the sun shines Sunday
and no wind rattles the trees till Monday.
Where statues stand alone and forlorn
in memory of Generals forgotten and gone.
A riderless horse trots home in the dawn.
It's lucky yesterday's hero fell on the lawn.

I was a soldier then and played at soldier's games.
You should have seen me then the General knew 
       my name.

You might have seen me down in France
Fourteenth of July in the dance
or along the hills of the Camargue.
Living like the cowboys do
roundup to roundup, smile to smile.
Riding herd then lying in the clover.
Through European windows you might have 
      seen me.

Oh how it was to be driving all day
through the mud of December and the dust of May.
With the smell of the cattle and the taste of the rain
and the sound of the scythe as it tore through 
       the grain
the feel of your horse moving under your groin.
To sweat in the summer and freeze when winter came.

I was a cowboy then, playing cowboy games.
You should have seen me then, riding down 
        the plain.

You might have seen me anywhere.
Name a country, I was there.
Wasting time and only growing older.
Living like the nomads do
day to day but each day through.
Now the days are gone, the time is over.
Through European windows you might have 
      seen me.

I was a cowboy then.
Through European windows you might have 
      seen me.

                     - from the album "Through European Windows", 1967

I loved the quote from Morgan Ames! The other liner quote which I really like is the one from R.B Read of the San Francisco Examiner:

"The best thing about Rod McKuen's growing U.S. success as a performer is what it proves about us: good things like this don't happen to us until we deserve them ...."

Most of the songs on this particular album were collaborations between Rod and two of my personal musical heroes, Jacques Brel and Gilbert Becaud. Here's a question Rod posed of Becaud:

"I once commented to Becaud, that since he was France's most admired popular composer and as Brel wrote the best lyrics in that country, how was it that the two had never collaborated."

"We tried it," he replied. "When we met it was Versailles, when we parted it was Berlin."

Great choice, Ann!

As usual the address for your contributions to this column is ken@mckuen.com . Hope to hear from you soon.

                                      - Ken, Johannesburg, March 21

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Johann Sebastian Bach o Matthew Broderick o Edgar Buchanan o James Coco o Timothy Dalton o Mark Hellinger o Mort Lindsey o Phyllis McGinley o Modest Moussorgsky o Rosie O'Donnell o Gary Oldman o Ayrton Senna da Silva o Kathleen Widdoes o Florenz Ziegfeld
Rod's random thoughts A string untied needs tying up just as every empty space, merely to prove its existence, needs walking through.

To love somebody truly, it is not necessary to be false to all other relationships.

A love that dominates is not love but the most ill gotten and ill used form of possessiveness.


I wanted to write you some words you'd remember. 
words so alert they'd leap from the paper 
and crawl up your shoulder and lie by your ears
and be there to comfort you down through the years.
But it was cloudy that day and I was lazy. 
and so I stayed in bed just thinking about it.

I wanted to write you and tell you that maybe 
love songs from lovers are unnecessary. 
We are what we feel and writing it down 
seems foolish sometimes without vocal sound.
But I spent the day drinking coffee, smoking 
and looking in the mirror practicing my smile.

I wanted to write you one last, long love song 
that said what I feel one final time. 
Not comparing your eyes and mouth to the stars 
but telling you only how like yourself you are.
But by the time I thought of it, found a pen, 
put the pen to ink, the ink to paper,
you were gone.

And so, this song has no words.

                    - from the album "Through European Windows", 1967

1967, 1970, 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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