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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
A Thought for Today
No time given to thought is wasted.
I’m resigned to never getting
totally caught up on answering mail, but here’s another stab at it.
A GHOST FROM THE PAST
Rod: I don't know if you remember me: Lynn Fuller, the former book buyer
from the Diamond's/Dillard's days in Phoenix, Arizona. I certainly do
remember you, every day for that matter. Your wonderful framed large
letter for my 25th anniversary hangs in our bedroom and many times I read
and re-read it.
I was often wondering what happened to you since I never hear anything
about you. Do you still live in the Beverly Hills with lots of cats? This
morning, and that is the reason why I just simply tried the Internet, I
read a wonderful article in the Houston Chronicle by Celeste Bowman
entitled "I still read Rod McKuen". If you would like to have it I will
send it to you if you give me an address.
Anyway, this article is a love letter to you and very sweet. It brought
memories back from our wonderful book signings. Yours were the most loyal
fans I have ever encountered, bar none!
From your website I see that you are still giving concerts. Anything
planned in Texas in the near future? We moved to Houston 8 years ago and
really like it here. It is a very beautiful state with very nice people,
basically. Of course there are many things strange about Texans and right
But all in all, we are very happy here. I found a new 'home' in a company,
which distributes cookware from Germany and other related merchandise.
Enough gab about me. I would love to hear from you if you feel like it.
But mostly I am happy that you are still amongst us and obviously still
doing your thing. Fondly, Lynn Fuller
Dear Lynn, Do I remember you? Are you kidding? Of course I do. Despite the
little time for anything but signing a book tour affords, we had some good
times, fine meals and great talks together. I always looked forward to you
and Dillards. You really knew how to promote a book-signing event & I
think we broke a few attendance records together.
Boy, how I wish you were still in Phoenix now that I have a new book out
and haven’t a clue as to how to drum up a book tour. This is one I’m
really proud of since I designed it myself and it includes two CD’s
between its covers. Please write and tell me your street address so I can
send you and Gar a copy. The book is selling seven and eight hundred
copies a week through Stanyan’s mail order. I haven’t contacted any
bookstores such as Borders or Barnes & Noble. Wouldn’t even know who to
get in touch with online bookstores.
People are still amazed to find that I’m among the living since I’ve
deliberately kept a low profile for the last 15 years or so. This is
making it difficult for my concert manager Jerry Lonn to book concerts
since most of the promoters who used to handle my appearance have all
gone. In their place are much younger bookers who ask “Rod who?” Having
sold out nearly every theatre, concert hall, nightclub, university,
stadium or venue I appeared in doesn’t mean much since it happened decades
ago. But you know me, Lynn, I bide my time knowing it will all happen
again sooner or later.
You’re right about the loyalty of my fans, they are the best and now
there’s three generations of ‘em.
So, no I can’t tell you when I’m coming to Texas. Hope it’s soon though
because my audiences there have always been so enthusiastic. I did a
couple of concerts earlier in the year and had a great time performing
again. Next up is a concert and a hot air balloon rally in Riverton
Wyoming on July 21st. At the end of June I’m off to Atlantic City to catch
Frank Sinatra Jr.’s opening (he’s featuring “I’m Not Afraid”) and then I
hope to be involved in a civil rights event in Northern California
When I read about the Houston Chronicle piece in your letter I went
immediately to their online Webster but couldn’t get any information, so
please send me the article. I can use all the love letters I can get. And
I want to send a letter of thanks to Celeste Bowman for remembering me.
I’m still at the same address and at the moment my cats number four.
What a pleasure to hear that you too are still with us. Give my love to
Gar and a big hug to you by mail till I can do it in person. With much
affection, your old friend. Rod
DREAM ALONG WITH ME
Rod: When I heard Perry Como died Saturday night I thought of sending you
a note but, I let the moment pass. You popped into my mind first probably
because of your love and respect for all those wonderful singers. I love
ya you mentioned him anyway-I thought you might.
What kind of twelve year old goes out and happily gets Como's Golden
Records? He was one of many I'd have in my collection Maybe it was his
soothing voice I'm not sure. His material came from many different
composers unlike Sinatra. I mean to say he didn't seem to have his Sammy
Cahn. Yet his songs all seemed to fit.
Now when I listen to him and others, people just think I like it because
I'm older. Of course I had no friends I could share with when I was a kid.
And the adults around me didn't really play music. There was one sampler
album I had that was great: Como doing the theme from Picnic/Moonglow
medley, Jo Stafford (I think) doing Midnight Sun right after him, Judy
Garland doing Zing Went The Strings of My Heart and a bunch of others.
What about Como doing The Sweetest Sounds?
Well maybe I was pretty much alone when I was a kid but I had great
music."A Kid Alone" might have made a good song but I must admit Age is
better. You Are Never Far Away From Me,
Dear Bob, I don’t think anyone can put their finger on just what attracted
all of us to Perry Como. There was something so mellow and natural about
his voice. His appeal was wide and he could sing anything and make it
believable. Novelty tunes like “Round, Round Round” and “Catch A Falling
Star” were sung so effortlessly by him that despite their less than
standard quality they became instant classics. And when he had a ballad
like “Till The End of Time,” If I Loved You” or “And I love Her So” nobody
made the lyric more meaningful. Two of my special Como favorites are “No
Other Love Have I” (Oscar Hammerstein’s setting to Richard Rodgers
haunting theme from “Victory at Sea”) and “The Wind Beneath My Wings".
I remember getting a call from Frank Sinatra just before Christmas one
year, he was going to Europe for the holidays and wanted me to pick up all
the Perry Como cassettes I could find for him to take on the trip. A while
later when Perry recorded “I Think of You” Frank demanded to know why I
hadn’t given him a crack at it first. I had to admit that it was Don Costa
and Nick Perito who got the song to him, not me. I’m so lucky and proud to
have something that is part of Como’s vast canon.
Bob, you and I were so lucky to have so many great singers to listen to
when we were growing up. Remember his “Watching the Trains Go By?” I just
finished programming Vol.11 of my Songs That Won the War series, “Remember
Pearl Harbor” and I included a V Disc version of him singing “First Class
Sergeant Mary Brown” on it.
Thank God those artists that seem to be leaving us all at once left such a
vast legacy of recordings behind. Thanks for sharing. Luv, Rod
our packet from the Chamber of Commerce in Riverton. What a nice surprise.
Every question we have, has been covered in the packet. I was advised to
get rooms early as that week, people come from all over. So I called the
same day we got our tickets. Am looking forward to the occasion.
I still have three CD’s I haven’t listened to yet, I just can't get past
Joanna. .I listen to it so much, maybe I should buy another one, as this
won’t last a lifetime. Joanna is marvelous; I know it by heart now.
Sending only good thoughts and Blessings your way. Lola
Dear Lola, The Riverton Chamber of Commerce is really on the ball. They
sent me a packet of material and have done so for several of my friends
who plan vacations around the car rally, balloon ascensions and my
concerts. I’ll be sharing some ideas I’ve gleaned from the brochures in a
Flight Plan soon.
Glad you like the “Joanna” CD. It’s one of my favorite scores. The CD
contains more than twice the music of the original LP. It was done for a
Japanese company that specializes in soundtracks. Unfortunately we’re
running out of copies so like “ConcertoWorks,” “Sold Out at Carnegie Hall”
and “New Carols of Christmas" it will be disappearing from the mail order
list before long. “Music for Guardian Angels” is also running low.
For the record here are the top mail order sales of last week.
1. ASPTL BOOK & CD SET
2. The Platinum Collection (2 CD set)
3. Early Harvest (single CD)
4. Listen to the Warm (single CD)
5. The Sea (LP)
6. Love’s Been Good to Me (Book)
7. McKuen at the Movies (single CD)
8. Frank Sinatra: A Man Alone (LP)
9. And Autumn Came (Book)
10. The French Connection (single CD)
11. Speaking of Love (single CD)
12. An Outstretched Hand (Book)
13. Five Poster Set
14. The Platinum Collection (Double Cassette)
15. Too Many Midnight’s (Book)
All the best, Rod
OPUS 40 & OTHER SORROWS
January 26, 1993, I sent you the following letter to P.O. Box 2783 in
Hollywood, CA for which I received no reply.
"It's been nearly twenty years since "OPUS 40", a concert my date and I
drove 1250 miles to attend. Well, twenty years later, that date is now my
wife and we live within an hour of New York City. We have lived here for
over ten years and have been waiting patiently for a Rod McKuen Concert in
the area. Where have you been? Getting near time for "OPUS 60", isn't it?
Yes, I know "OPUS 40" was a year too early - that means you have an extra
year to plan for "OPUS 60".
I have been a Rod McKuen fan for over twenty-five years. I was #129 for
FOLIO (later changed to #1492 because when I moved my subscription got
messed up). Speaking of FOLIO, I have every issue from #1 to #64. Have
there been issues since #64? If so, could you have someone send them to me
with an invoice? Maybe my subscription was again messed up when I moved
into my current home.
I still listen to your recordings; especially the few I have that have
been released on CD's and I regularly re-read your books. A little over
twenty-five years ago I had a string of events that caused me to question
my very existence. As a result of your writings and some other good
fortune, I was able to piece my young life back together and go forward.
The self-analysis your writings brought about, I'm convinced saved me. For
this reason, I still refer to your work to clear my thinking and to find
answers to some of life's emotional challenges. It seems appropriate as
you turn 59 to share this with you.
The final reason for my note is to complain. Why aren't you still "out
there" helping others like you helped me? Since I have so much of your
work, I didn't realize until recently how hard it was to currently obtain
copies of your work. This caused me to realize that while I have
maintained contact with you through your past work that I have nothing
more current than FOLIO #64, nor do I know what you are currently doing.
So, if it's not too much trouble, could you drop this "old fan" a line and
let him know how you are, what you're up to, and when he can see you
perform your work again.
God bless and thank you for being there when I needed you many years ago!
Warmest Regards, Gary"
Well, last year I discovered your web-site. It was a wonderful day! I read
it everyday and have gone back and read all the old postings. I am glad to
see you are doing well, working hard but having fun. I am most glad that
young folks that may be experiencing some of life's challenges before they
are seasoned enough to handle them on their own have a place to find you.
In any case, I am still happily married to the young lady with which I saw
OPUS 40 and we still have the two OPUS 40 tee-shirts you gave us for
traveling so far to see you. I still live near New York City and I'd still
love to see another Carnegie Hall Concert. I have ordered your new book-CD
combo and can hardly wait till it arrives.
Enjoy your Birthday and thanks for the gifts of your work that you have
given us over the years. Thank you for being you and sharing you with all
your fans, Gary Childers
Dear Gary, Sorry about that letter from 1993 not finding its way to me
till now, but it’s all the more appreciated. And, your newest letter did
get to me in time to wish me a Happy Birthday.
So much seems to be going on that I find it hard keeping up with the mail
so this answer to your heart-warming letter is past due too.
While I was in The Bay Area for my class reunion last week it occurred to
me that in 2003 I’ll turn 70. I’ve asked Jerry Lonn to try and reserve
Carnegie Hall for a Birthday Concert for that event. I hope to play New
York again long before that but 70 sounds like a good time to return to
that beloved place where on my first appearance there I turned 36. For the
next ten years I had a Birthday concert in New York every year and when we
couldn’t book Carnegie the performance took place at Lincoln Center.
I am happy that some of my thoughts got you over a hump or two. That’s
what all of us are here for Gary, to help each other. None of us can
aspire to more than that.
Thanks for the courage and the push both of your letters gave me. With
deep affection, Rod
PS: I promise not to be so long in answering you next time.
COME HOME SAFELY . . . AND HE DID
McKuen, I became aware of your poetry and music courtesy of Glen
Yarbrough's "The Lonely Things" which I bought back in 1967 when I was a
young Infantry Lieutenant stationed at Ft. Benning, GA. I wrote off to
Stanyan Music and purchased "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows," "Listen to
the Warm," and all of the records which were then available (all of which
I still have and still listen to).
In December of 1967, I passed through San Francisco on my way to Vietnam
and was fortunate in that you were appearing at one of the nightspots
while I was there. I don't recall if it was the hungry Eye or the Purple
Onion, but it was written up in Life Magazine. After the show, I was
allowed backstage to talk to you and you autographed my copy of "Listen to
the Warm," saying "Jim, Come home Safely! Rod McKuen."
At the time, I didn't realize that you were also a vet. All I knew was
that your poetry spoke to me on a very real and very deep place. And it
"Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows," "Listen to the Warm," and "Lonesome
Cities" still have a place on my nightstand. Goddess Bless, Jim
PS: "Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows," and "Listen to the Warm," still
have smears of mud from Vietnamese rice paddies....
PPS: I was the senior platoon leader (and Ranger qualified to boot!), so
when I read poetry to my fellow platoon leaders, they had the choice of
listening or getting the *bleep* out of my way. But one of them was an
artist, and I still have a drawing that he did for me after listening to
"Stanyan Street: 1" ("You lie bent up in embryo sleep..."). It's pasted in
between page 24 and 25. Someday, I'll get a scanner and I'll send it to
Someday, if you like, I'll send you some of my poetry about Vietnam. Jim
Dear Jim, I was appearing at Basin Street West when you came backstage to
see me. I felt so helpless seeing so many young men and women going off to
Southeast Asia to fight a war that nobody could adequately explain to any
of us. It was worse when ‘kids’ started returning home as damaged adults
to a country that held no parades and had no ribbons tied around trees to
While I was against the Vietnam War my heart was with each and every grunt
who served there. I sent hundreds of packages of books and tapes and
records to GI’s I would never know or meet, it was a very small thing to
do but I felt it gave me a connection with our men and women in harms way.
You may not believe it but I do remember you, you were young and smiling
and seemed almost cheerful about leaving, still in the short time we
talked there was something I caught behind your eyes that betrayed a
I love the story of you force-feeding your platoon their dose of McKuen.
You’re probably responsible for some of the letters I’ve gotten over the
years. Thanks for that and for your moving letter. Do scan that drawing
and send it to me, I’d be proud and honored to have a copy.
Write and tell me what you’re up to now, Jim. Warmly, Rod
UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO
really have a question. Just wanted to say that in 1972 or 73 you did a
reading in Albuquerque at UNM. You pulled up your wooden stool and opened
your book and transported us all away to a magical place. Even now, so
many years later, when I open Moment to Moment and start reading, it is
your voice I hear reciting the words. What a beautiful gift to have been
given. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Donna. I suppose a refresher
wouldn't be at all amiss...maybe I will see you in Riverton. “Flyfreefilly.”
Dear Flyfreefilly, get yourself to Riverton post haste! And don’t forget
to come back after the show to say hello. Fondly, Rod
- RM 05/21/01
Booking for "An Evening with
Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for
Riverton Concert Details