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       ASK ROD

Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

Bend the rule too often and you might have to scrap the plan.


I'm only a couple of hundred letters behind now, but after today I'll be down by ten.


Hi, I am doing a school project on you and I wanted to know if you had any kids? And who is the person that you are committed to? Marshall Littleton

Dear Marshall, I have two grown children, a boy and a girl. Yes, I'm in a very committed relationship. The person I'm committed to prefers anonymity. Thanks for asking, Rod


Hello I have long been a fan of your poetry. My first and favorite is Listen to the Warm. I first read that poem when I was a heartbroken teenager in the 70's. Though I no longer have the original copy, I still know much of it. 

I am now 43 years old (a wife, a mother of three daughters and a junior in college.) I am taking a class in Contemporary American Poetry and have decided to write my paper about you. I would like to ask several questions if I might? 

1. Is there anyone that you modeled your style after? 
2. Any poets in particular that you admire and read? 
3. What is your favorite poem?
4. Have you written an autobiography or has a biography been written?
5. Do you have any advice for myself and classmates about writing in general? 

I realize I have asked a lot. I am very anxious to have your input and I thank-you for your time and consideration. I am presently reading two of your books. Last question...where will I find your poem Listen To the Warm? I have two new favorites, Endorsement and Sunset Colors, One. Thank-you Sincerely,
Coleen Visco

Dear Coleen, I think it's acknowledged by now that my style is pretty much my own. I have been greatly influenced by Walt Whitman and Walter Bennett and to a lesser degree by Amy Lowell and Yeats.

I read a lot of poetry, both contemporary and classical works. I like Li Po and many other Chinese poets. I've always admired Spanish poetry and my favorite French authors include Baudelaire, Verlaine, Apollinaire and Rimbaud.

I still read Whitman and Poe for inspiration and I enjoy Merwin. I'm leaving out more poets than I've mentioned. 

I don't have a single favorite poem but many that I admire. Certainly Yeats' "The Song of the Wandering Angus" is near the top of my list.

The closest I've come to a published autobiography is "Finding My Father," a prose work about the search for my origins. So far I've discouraged writers who want to interview me or my friends for any biographical work. I live very much in the present and save my reminiscing for my poetry and songs.

My advice to writers? Write what you know about and those things you feel real passion for. Read a lot, fiction and the daily newspaper. Read aloud to your kids and encourage them and your mate to read back to you. Write every day, keep a journal.

The song "Listen to the Warm" is available on the CD of the same name.

I hope this helps and good luck on your project. Warmly, Rod


Hi - my question is actually trivial, but I've been searching for quite some time - I saw the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie recently on TV, and of course they cut out all the credits. I remember the song "Jean" very well, but didn't know you wrote it - tracked that much down - did you actually sing the soundtrack/academy award nominated version, or did someone else - and if someone else, who was it. It's one of those songs that haunts my head - I've always loved it, but I was only 12 when it came out, and my memory can get pretty foggy! Thanks, Lisa Swanson

Dear Lisa, I wrote the score for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the song "Jean," which I sang over the end credits. The hit single that made the charts all around the world was sung by "Oliver" and produced by the legendary Bob Crewe. Kindest regards, Rod 


Dear Mr. McKuen, It's a pleasure and honor to write to you. Today I am a thirty-year-old husband working as a television director in New York. Twenty-five years ago I was a little boy in Alabama whose mother would play "Rod McKuen's Greatest Hits-2" every night to put me to sleep. I still have that same piece of vinyl, and I know every song by heart.

When I first moved to New York six years ago, I assumed I would get the chance to see you perform. When you appeared in the Sinatra tribute at Lincoln Center, I couldn't quite afford it, so I thought, "...next time." Then I discovered "A Safe Place to Land," and found out that your appearance that night was a very rare one. I had missed my opportunity. But thankfully, next time is March 10th, and I'm not missing this one.

In case you didn't know, there's a whole generation of kids in Alabama who can sing "Joanna" word for word. There was even a punk rock band in Tuscaloosa who performed it on stage a few times (did you ever get that royalty check?). And it was all because of that one record my mother played for me, that I have kept all my life, and played for all my friends. I actually got in trouble in the fifth grade for reading "Caught in the Quiet" on poetry day, because it was too short. The teacher said that I was lazy. But that was my genuine favorite (next to a few dirty limericks I knew).

Anyway, I am looking forward to the show, and am bringing a couple of friends along. I'm glad that we can be part of the many who will help make the show a success, so there can be more. Thanks for the happy memories, and travel safely, Bryan Galatis

PS - I work for AMC, and a year or two ago, when we aired WILD HARVEST and THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, I made sure that you were mentioned in the scripts. I even put one of your books on the bookshelf on Bob Dorian's set. Dorian told me those years ago, in the 1960's, when he worked in radio, he would read your poems over bossa nova. "It was the thing to do back then," he said.

PSS - If you've never seen it, I would like to recommend the movie LEOLO to you. It's a French Canadian film, about a boy with a vivid imagination, a crazy family, and a Jacques Brel album. Change the setting to the American South, and substitute a Rod McKuen record, and it could almost be my story. Thanks again, BG

Dear Brian, I hope you did get to the Aurora concert and that you enjoyed it. I had a great time on stage and in the lobby afterward with friends and fans. I appreciate the plug on AMC. I remember that Nick Clooney introduced "Wild Heritage" and made quite a reference to me.

With AMC being able to dredge up all the old Universal films I'm surprised "Rock Pretty Baby" and its sequel "Summer Love" haven't made the channels teen-age rock series. Maybe it will happen one of these days. I watch AMC a lot because of the films from my old Alma Mater Universal and The Fox musicals and costume epics. You guys do a great job of programming. I also like AMC's original series and documentaries a lot. I love the story about Bob Dorian reading my works over bossa nova music. I'll have to send you and Bob copies of the new Book/CD which includes a bossa nova I've written entitled "Blame it on July." 

Wish I had heard the punk band's version of "Joanna." I wonder if it compares with The Beat Farmers' rendition of "The Beat Generation." 

I haven't seen "Leolo," but I've heard about it and will try to 
pick it up at Amazon or rent it locally. Sorry about "Caught in the Quiet." Did you know the complete book can be downloaded from A Safe Place to Land for free?

Please pass my love and thanks to your mom for weaning you on "Greatest Hits" and the same to you for such a nice letter. Don't be a stranger. Rod


Dear Rod, For many years my husband and I have been such great fans of yours - you became a very important part of our lives when we first got married and there is one particular LP of yours that means so much to us. We bought it way back - I think it was about 1969 (it was released in 1967) and we played it so much that it got very scratched and damaged (although we do still have it). We have searched high and low to see if we can find it again (on tape or CD form) but have not been successful. The album was "The Beautiful Strangers" and each track brought back so many poignant memories.

Love, let me not hunger
Alamo Junction
Tamarack Tree
Looking back at 30
The Beautiful Strangers

An Isle in the Water
Poem No 26
Only Love
The House upon the hill
Poem No 27
Like Children do

I love them all. Is there anywhere where we are likely to find this so that we can enjoy it for many more years to come?

Thank you for all the pleasure you have brought us - long may it continue All best wishes. Pat Thomas

Dear Pat, though it may not be listed on the catalog page, I'll bet that if you write Dwight at Stanyan By Mail he can dig up a copy of the LP for you. It's either that or wait until next year when CD's from the Warner Bros.Years start arriving on the market. Thanks for asking and thanks for caring about an album dear to my heart. Affectionately, Rod


Hi Rod I've just listened to a radio documentary (in the UK), celebrating the 50th birthday of Janis Ian. I am compelled to write to you about Janis because I really do feel that she is the nearest equivalent songwriter that there is to yourself - don't worry Rod, you are still number 1 to me! [GRIN].

I would be interested to know what you think of her work; I am sure that you are an ardent enthusiast of her work. Her great artistic integrity is one of the things that she has in common with you. Also she took two "Career Breaks"; one for 3 years at the age of 17 (!) and a 10 year period later on in her career. From listening to the documentary, she is very aware of who she is as an artist but in my opinion, she vastly underestimates her talent as a performer. I saw her in Concert about a year ago and she was doing a solo performance, and was terrific.

Maybe I'll get to see you in performance some time! I hope that your recent Concert successes have given you every encouragement to continue sharing your talent with us on the Concert stage! Alex Butler

Dear Alex, What a nice compliment. I'm crazy about Janis Ian as a woman and think she's one of the finest contemporary songwriters. I've performed her "Tea and Sympathy" in concert and I love "In the Winter" and "At Seventeen." She has a recent album out on Windom Hill entitled "God & The FBI (WH 11498.) As ever, Rod


Hallo, I am writing to you from Germany, so may be my English isn't so good. I have been searching since 1994 (!) for the CD or LP which contents your version of the famous song "Moon River". They played it in 1994 often here in Germany on the radio, but the radio station could only tell me if "Moon River" is on an LP from 1979. More they couldn't tell me.

I like this song very much. So: where can I get this LP/CD - I must have it. And what is the name of the CD/LP. I hope I can get it here in Germany. When can I get from the USA? Yours Sincerely Kalle Wenisch

Dear Kalle, The album containing Moon River is called Good Time Music but it's not yet available on CD. My reggae version is one Henry Mancini particularly liked so I did include it on a CD I compiled entitled The Rare Mancini. You can order it from Stanyan By Mail. All the best, Rod


 I would like to place an order for your new book/CD but don't see it listed yet on your order page. You suggested ordering now for Dwight at Stanyan. Where is that Link? Enjoyed your concert at Aurora beyond words...Love, Nancy from Green bay


I'm having an impossible time trying to locate your LPs from the 60s and the 70s. Are they still available anywhere or are they on CD. I hope I can obtain a resource. I've been able to obtain your books of poetry through Amazon.Com, but little is available in record form.. HELP! GLC

Dear Nancy and GLC. There is a link to Stanyan By Mail on this sites Home Page. Most of my 50's, 60's and 70's are available direct from Stanyan. A listing and details on the ASPTL BOOK / CD Set will go up over the weekend. Best Regards, Rod


Dear Rod, Didn't you narrate the book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull?" Is it available anywhere? I would love to get a copy of it. Love your website! Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann, Nope. Neil Diamond narrated the film and wrote the songs for it. His soundtrack is available on CD. I also seem to remember a recording of the book by Richard Harris who did the great Jimmy Webb album. Cheers, Rod 


Hi Rod, Wow, this email stuff is great isn't it? I used to buy your records back in the 80s from a little secondhand shop in London called 58 Dean Street Records. I was a student then and broke but I used to save up my spare cash and go off to the shop for another one whenever I could! Those were the days!

I always used to want to write to you then, because I loved your poetry and music so much but didn't know where to send it. Finding the website has been amazing and I still can't quite believe that this email is going to go direct to you! What a rush!

My question is: I saw some concert dates on the site just now and I'm wondering if you have any plans to come over to the UK in the near future. I'd love to see you in concert. Thanks for reading this - hope you are well and happy. Liz Revell

Dear Liz, for many years I used to tour the British Isles every 30 months or so and now that I'll probably be back on the boards I see no reason to exclude it. As I mention earlier in the week, an UK tour is high on the list of possibilities. Luv, Rod


Hello Rod, My name is Charles Sipperley, and I'm a big fan of your work. I am writing you because I play in a jazz ensemble, and would like to obtain your permission to recite one of your written works at one of our performances. Best regards, Charles

Dear Charles, Permission granted and if you record it, don't forget to send me a copy. Kindest Regards, Rod

Tomorrow I'll be here with "Friday Feedback" and "Pass it Along." Sleep warm.

                         RM 3/21/2001 Previously unpublished

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays George Benson o May Britt o Don Chaney o Bob Costas o Virginia Grey o Orrin Hatch o Werner Klemperer o Karl Malden o Marcel Marceau o Ross Martin o Chico Marx o J.P. McCarthy o Matthew Modine o Lena Olin o Joseph Schildkraut o William Shatner o Stephen Sondheim o Sir Anthony Van Dyck o Andrew Lloyd Webber o Reese Witherspoon
Rod's random thoughts To catch the wind, it isn't necessary to erect a windmill.

Laws and machines are shaped to fit the classes.

If you keep the heart alive a little longer, love will come.


I never saw so much of spring
as I see now. The tender willow 
turning amber. The nightingale,
the sparrow in the heavens
The moon behind the spider
making web, now blotted out by
geese in trumpet, home again,
home again, home to spring.

The toad has found his roadside. 
       Butterflies are tumbling
from cocoons; ants and crickets
share the bush and every truth of
this sweet season.

The moon is now a pearl, a cloud
its shell, as in the tall bamboo and
reed cicadas sing
          in four-part harmony.
I think the older seasons envy
spring, and well they should. The
roses are not blood red or purple
in extreme. A subtle pink, a lazy
lavender, no single petal scorched
by sun. All things al dente,

How is it that in all my years I never
saw this much of spring? To think
I once believed that tenderness
            lay underfoot of autumn.
I am the aging sparrow's twin
suffering from ill attention, as all
souls concentrate on April things.

-from "A Safe Place to Land," 1998, revised 2001
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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