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       ASK ROD

Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

Invest in yourself. You are your best asset.


Good morning. As always the mail today covers many topics, so let's get to it.


Now I am truly depressed. I told my husband that when you did a concert I was going to attend and I didn't care where I had to go. Now I see you are in my backyard and I am already committed for both of those days and evenings. You really do need to have a fall tour and make it to St. Louis. The Fox Theatre is a wonderful place.

Thanks for all the joy you have given me and still give me. Neva Corn

Dear Neva, Thanks for writing and I'm sorry you won't be attending either concert. One of the reasons Aurora and Madison were selected is because they were near several metropolitan areas and that includes your fine city.

If a concert tour materializes in the fall, I doubt that I'd be booked into St. Louis either this year or the next because there are so many cities in other parts of the country I'd like to play and another concert this soon in your area might be overkill.

I recognize your name and appreciate that you've been a long - time fan so I hope that in the coming year or so I'll be appearing in a city you might be visiting on business or a vacation. Whenever and wherever, you'll be welcome. Sincerely, Rod


Dear Rod, My future husband Paul and I were about to send out invitations to our wedding, which has been in the planning for six months. Then we heard about your concerts on the 10th of March in Aurora and the 11th in Madison. Our wedding had been set for the 11th, but there is no way we would have missed your return to concerts after all these years. 

We were at your "farewell concert" in Atlantic City back in the 80's. We promised each other then that if and when you returned to the stage, no matter where it was, we'd be there. Our tickets arrived last Friday and both of us are as excited as we can be. Good luck and we'll see you on both nights. Judy (and Paul, Jamaica, N.Y.

PS: Our wedding is now scheduled for the 12th of April.

Dear Judy and Paul, Wow what a compliment. Thank you both. Luv, Rod


Good Morning Rod, I know this is a silly question but I got to know. In today's birthdays of famous people you listed Linda Campbell, who is that. My wife, though wonderful, is not famous and her maiden name was Linda Campbell. Just wanted to know. I really enjoy your site and the materials you guys put in it. Thanks so much, Gordon, Sierra Madre, CA 

Dear Gordon, you don't have to be famous to get on our birthday list. Linda Campbell's renown comes from her being a good friend to ASPTL. It could be YOUR Linda, but I wouldn't presume to ask. Our Linda is currently married and lives in Atlanta, if that helps.

Thanks for the nice words concerning the site. Sometimes it's hard work, but nearly always worth it. Kindest regards, Rod


Hi, Rod. Have you ever done, or thought of doing, work on stage, such as Broadway, Off-Broadway, or even regional theater? This seems to be the only part of show business you haven't involved yourself with, but then again, I could be wrong. Rosalyn Butt, Phoenix, Arizona

Dear Rosalyn, I have flirted with the idea of doing a show or musical. I checked out "Death Trap" and thought about doing it on the road. Later I learned the dialogue and score for "Man of LaMancha" with a nod toward perhaps performing it on the summer light opera circuit. About all that came of it was the recording I did of "The Impossible Dream" for the "Alone" album.

Any thoughts about the stage were put aside as I took a year to work on the score and scripts for the 20 hours of "The Unknown War." Who knows, maybe one day I will appear in a book show, for now I'm excited about a potential concert tour and most of all the initial concerts in Aurora & Madison. Warmly, Rod


Any chance of "New Ballads" being re issued on CD...my old vinyl copy is worn out with play! Still one of my favourites after all the years....also I remember a song called "Rusting in the Rain" was it available on record at all? Thanks Tim

Dear Tim, There is a good chance that "New Ballads" might be on CD very soon. As I get ready to enter a new non-exclusive contract with a major company, one of the plans is to release albums made during The Warner Bros. years as "Double Up's" -- 2 albums on a single CD. The first CD in that series will probably be "The Beautiful Strangers" & "New Ballads." Both have already been digitally mastered to that end. Stay tuned. Cheers, Rod


What a delight that the waves of time have seen fit to bring the ship of verse back aged but undaunted, the vinyl junkie that lives within stacks high the verse of younger days as I peruse effects of your return. Welcome home! Mike Lucas

Dear Mike, Welcome aboard ASPTL. I'm a vinyl junkie too and keep that turntable in good shape. We still sell a lot of LP's at Stanyan and there is plenty in our catalog that hasn't made it to CD, some might never make the transition. All the best to you, Mike. Rod 


Rod, Just in case you hadn't heard - the NH state representative that advocated the killing of police officers has "bowed to the pressure" and resigned his post. "Dic"

Dear Dic, Who Ray! for our side. I didn't think either the good people of New Hampshire or the Republican Party would stand for the verbal actions of this dope for long, let alone what he might do to the state and country if he put some of the notions into practice. Thanks for the update, Dic, I'm answering this on Inauguration Day and your news renews my hope for the Republic and the Republican years ahead. Warmly, Rod


Dear Sir: I loved this book. However, I have been unable to locate it locally. Do you have any suggestions? Elcade

Dear Elcade, I've acknowledged in this space before the influence Walter Benton's "This is my Beloved" and "Never a Greater Need" had on my writing and I thought these books would never go out of print.

Try writing Random Hose in New York, they own the copyright and might be able to give you some information. Also try e-bay and used book shops. Good luck, Rod


Thank you for letting me know today is Glenn Yarborough's birthday. I am wondering when your birthday month is now. Care to share? Egg Sandwich

Dear Egg, Now you don't seriously think I could ignore Glenn's birthday do you? No Way. 

As for my own natal day? I will celebrate my 28th Anniversary on April 29th. That is the 28th Anniversary of my 40th birthday. Not so coincidentally, A Safe Place To Land will start its 4th year on the web the following day. Sincerely, Rod


You were at the center of my life before I knew who you were; I sang your songs, never knowing they were yours, but even at 12 I recognized the shy~boy~sadness of 'A Boy Named Charlie Brown'...a little later I fell for 'Jean'....and for years I sang the only part of this song I knew (which turned out to be the chorus of 'Love's Been Good to Me') whenever I felt especially solitary but not saddened.

Someone lent me a copy of one of your books, I wish I could tell you which one but I can't, when I was 14 and beginning to write my own poetry. He thought I would appreciate your style, which seemed so unstructured (but never ever undisciplined) and it was only then that I realized what I'd felt but been unable to articulate as clearly as you did: 

Poetry was feelings~~love, longing, loss, desire, joy...so many
things~~and it didn't matter a damn if anyone else ever read it or liked a word of it...when those lines went down on paper, they were saying something about me I had no other way of expressing even half so clearly. I was a very lonely girl and not much like anyone else in my family, who couldn't understand my feelings about music and poetry and books...so writing those poems expressed what I wanted to say but no one else wanted to hear. That was my first lesson in self-sufficiency and it has been a good thing to have.

I didn't own any of your books until I was 21. I used to check them out of the library on the military base where I lived then, not being able to afford a single copy for keeps but reading every word until they were committed to memory. I'm sure if someone pulled one of those books off the shelf today; they would hear me whispering the words. 

That was one of the darkest periods of my life, being in a 3~year marriage that had spiraled down into nothing more than alcohol and accusations and body blows that shattered me time and time again. I used to clean my blood off the walls in a total state of numbness...and all I would allow myself to think was the lyric to 'I'm Not Afraid.' I could not allow myself to believe my life was real...but I held onto those words and told myself over and over that there were good men out there, too, kind and gentle men ... such as you. Your poetry, with all its gentle wastefulness and powerful love, was all that kept me sane and kept me alive during those days.

When, mercifully, those days ended, I had become a very timid and very quiet person. I spent most of my time alone, at first just learning to breathe freely and stop jumping when someone touched me or came up behind me. It was a long time before I was able to have any sort of intimacy and when that time came I was so frightened of it that my entire body trembled~~part of me wanting and needing to be touched and held, part of me ready to jump and run for my life. Again, I kept your poems in my head, whispering them to myself over and over...willing myself to come back to life, come into the sunshine...and maybe, just maybe, find love again.

Some of the love I found lasted a single night, but there was no doubt to me that love indeed it was, knowing what I gave of myself in those moments. During that time I read 'Listen to the Warm' for the first time and identified with it so totally it was as if you were that person with me and the poem was just for me. (And yes, I'm sure you've been told such things to the point of nausea ... sorry ... the simple words 'it happened just because..' were all I needed then.) Some of the love lasted longer. For the most part, I was able to take away something memorable from each encounter, something that helped all my shattered parts heal together stronger than before.

Today I am a scarred woman, it's true, but I wear my scars well, I think, for they show that I fought and survived, not gave in, never gave up. I like what that says about me. I know love well; I live it, I give it, and am blessed to receive it. That's thanks in NO small part to you. Your eyes tell me we've suffered many of the same things, and we have. You are my friend, and you once were my lifeline; now I begin and end each and every day with your work in one form or another...and I'm sure the rest of the day is better for it.

I am coming to both your concerts. I will be just another face in the crowd to you, I know, but it is a face that will be incandescent with the joy of seeing you before me. You'd be no less real to me if I saw you every day, so this is just so much icing on the best cake anyone ever made for me.

Tonight I will light some candles and pour a rare glass of wine and treat myself; to your voice on the stereo and to your words coming from the page straight to my heart. And I will be thankful, yet again, and for the rest of my life, that you have meant so much to me. Thank you for listening to me and for giving me so much in a relatively short lifetime. With love and respect, Beth Anne

Dear Beth Anne, the power of poetry is that it takes us out of ourselves for a time, even as it mirrors our own circumstances. I've said more than once that "to write it down is to let it go." So, I'm sure being able to write down your own thoughts helped you every bit as much, if not more, as reading mine.

There is never enough attention paid to spousal abuse, by society who should be more aware of how prevalent it is, politicians who ought to be strengthening laws against it and by law enforcement officers who should be better enforcing those statutes already on the books. Couples entering relationships have to realize that it take two committed, forgiving and willing to work at it people to make any union survive. 

Still there are bullies, men and women who think they have the right to take out their aggression on those closest to them. There is no excuse, EVER, for physical violence in a marriage. It has always been the tool of despots and the desperate. Many women are trapped in relationships where they feel there is no way out. It happened to my own mother. There is a way out. Walk away. Whatever the cost, leave any relationship that isn't a loving one. I'm happy for you that you made it out, Beth Ann.

I appreciate your thoughtful compliments, but in the end each individual is responsible for their own survival. All the rest of us can do is try and help.

Glad you're coming to the concerts and I hope I'll have a few surprises for you on both nights. Luv, Rod


I think you are bringing all the good things in my life back. Thank you for your expertise with the English language. I just skipped over; I got to the important parts. I needed to get warm for the three-day weekend. I have about 7 of your poetry books. I am so glad I kept them. They still make me feel, like they did when I was a kid. 

I was two years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My head came just under the kitchen table, that is how I recall my Dad, Dwight's expression on his face. Dropping his fork, hunger pangs gone. More important things on his mind. God Bless America and our troops.

I really like a man who can use his words to move the masses. Should I call you the Pope, Reverend, or My Savior? In search of the Father of us all. Where did you come up with that line. I am living to know? Have a good week end. You are my bliss. E.S.

Dear E. S, The women and men who defend and have defended our country can never receive enough praise. 

You can call me Rod. Luv, (definitely not The Pope, reverend or savior of anyone.) RM


Dear Rod, Okay, I give up. Can you tell me where I can find a recording of Summer Moonlight. I have all your CD's and about 75 of you LP's but have not found a recording of that song. I can't recollect ever hearing it, but my recollector doesn't work near as well as it used to. 

While I'm at it do you dare answer the question about how you feel about having your poetry quoted on the message boards? Do you consider it a copyright violation? 

I am so looking forward to Aurora and Madison. Your announcement of the concerts just before Christmas has brought a ray of sunshine into a cold winter. Love as always, Ritab

Dear Rita, "Summer Moonlight" is available on 2 LP's "Try Rod McKuen in the Privacy of Your Own How," and "Blessings In Shades of Green". I know copies of the later album are available from Stanyan By Mail.

There's no problem at all with quoting my poetry on either of the message boards, as long as the source is given. The only problem I have is when people post original poetry. As you know, because of the many manuscripts I receive I've made it a hard and standing rule over the years not to read or criticize any original poetry. I occasionally visit the RM Message Center because they've made their ban on original poetry stick.

I haven't gone near the Stanyan Message Board in months because despite Dwight's admonition to the contrary, at least one original work seems to be posted daily. That and the bickering that seems to go on there is causing Dwight to think seriously about closing it down.

Since you've asked, there's one additional thing that bothers me about the Stanyan Board; I'm told that lately there have been a lot of postings of song lyrics by other composers and lyricists. That is a copyright violation if they are posted without permission and even the courtesy of the names of their creators. It seems to me that if someone likes a song well enough to post they should go the extra inch and give the author due credit.

I'm glad you're coming to both concerts and thanks for the interesting questions. Cheers, Rod


The issue was whether Chavez knew that her Guatemalan housekeeper was an illegal immigrant and whether Bush knew that Guatemala was not a dip made with avocados.

-Mark Russell (submitted by Ann Berzinsky)

I'll be back tomorrow with more letters and answers. Sleep warm.

                         RM 1/20/2000 Previously unpublished



ICOM, the company who host the rodmckuen.com mirror site, have advised that they will be undertaking routine maintenance on the server this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, January 23 and 24. 

Most of the work will be undertaken at night USA time so service interruption should be kept to a minimum. Night time in the USA, however, is day time where I'm based and it's usually around this time that I post the current Flight Plan. Bottom line is if you can't access the current Flight Plan on rodmckuen.com on these days, try mckuen.com and I'm sure you'll find it there.

                           Ken, Johannesburg, January 22                 

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Olivia d'Abo o Sir. Francis Bacon o Birch Bayh o Bill Bixby o Linda Blair o Lord Byron o Sam Cooke o George Foreman o Balthazar Getty o D.W. Griffith o John Hurt o Michael Kelland Hutchence o Kris Kristofferson o Diane Lane o Piper Laurie o Steve Perry o Ann Southern o August Strindberg o U. Thant o Joseph Wambaugh
Rod's random thoughts When we are home we are in a better place.

Impatience can be a virtue if you practice it on yourself.

Those unwilling to learn from adversity are as sunlight is to moonlight and water unto wine.


Now slowly
like a muffled drum
or the rat-a-tat of rain
the beating of your heart
goes back to steadiness.

Silence separates us
as our pulse's slow.
A rivulet and not a ditch
rolls down between us
as though the act
of making love
          has business hours
and five o'clock has finally come.

I know that love
is not red valentines
or flesh on flesh
at pre-set and appointed times
and I believe it to be more
than rhymes and rhyming,
so when I ease to sleep
              against your side
consider my now spent,
sandbag heavy body
as something heart and mind
                        let go of
as fodder for a dam
to stop the would be rivulet
                 now widening to river
from some oncoming flood.

                        - from "Watch For The Wind'" 1983

1970, 1983, 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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