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       ASK ROD

Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

Those willing to listen to us will always inspire us.

 

As March and the concert dates loom nearer I keep getting more good news about old friends who plan to attend the performances. Over the weekend I heard from a couple in Australia who are coming and I received a call from Holland that four regulars I haven't seen for ages (friends and fans) are flying from Amsterdam for both shows.

. . . AND FROM ENGLAND

Hi Rod! I have just spent a long while browsing around your website and find myself totally humbled by the experience. Having been an avid fan since the 60s with what I thought was a large collection of vinyl, CDs, tapes & books, I thought I was doing quite well in the knowledge stakes, but can now see I have a long way to go. 

My husband runs a used vinyl store in Bournemouth, England and on his buying trips he has scoured various parts of the U.K. and U.S. searching for material for me. Through his shop I met another keen fan and have developed a close friendship with Deirdre Harrington.

Deirdre & I will be travelling out to the U.S. with our husbands for your forthcoming concerts in March which we are SO EXCITED about! To see you perform again will fulfill our dreams and we would love to know what format the concerts will take i.e. musical accompaniment, material etc. 

Will there be merchandise available to purchase - and new CD's etc? We have both met you before after your concerts in the U.K. and would love to say Hi again after the shows if this is possible? Hope to hear from you soon, We love you, Rod. Ruth Cargill - Christchurch U.K.


Dear Ruth, I am delighted that you will be coming from England for the March dates. You can't imagine the confidence it gives me to know that so many old friends and fans are traveling from far off places to help me celebrate my first new concerts. It really does make all the plans and preparations worthwhile.

I have a feeling my concert format will be familiar to you, since it won't be that much different from the kind of performances I gave over the years in Great Britain. There will be some songs both old and new and a poem here and there. I'm putting the program together now and I don't mind telling you how difficult it is deciding what to drop, what to add and how to make act two even better than act one.

As usual the band will go nuts trying to remember all the new arrangements and wondering why we're rehearsing so many songs for a two-hour program. Still, I can't wait to begin rehearsals. Putting a show together is such a balancing act; setting the mood, working out the subtle and sometimes intentionally abrupt mood changes and trying to include my favorite songs without neglecting those of the audience.

Of course there has to be room for new material, so what to leave in is as important as what to let go of to make way for
the latest poems and songs. 

As far as souvenirs go, what would a concert be without mementos? Yes, there will be things to take home, but I prefer keeping exactly what will be available a surprise. I hope it's enough to say that it will include "stuff" no one has seen or heard of before and a few things only available at the concerts.
All of us involved with the performances are working like crazy to get the so-called "stuff" completed in time. 

Again, I appreciate the long journey the four of you are taking and I promise to try especially hard not to disappoint you.

Love to you and Deirdre, Ruth and to your husbands who are footing the bill. Truly there are no friends like old friends. See you in March. Rod

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

Hello. I stumbled on your site, directed here by a friend who heard in my voice something that reminded her of a poem of yours. And so here I am. 

You seem to have loved and lived a lot. I haven't. I have only been in love one time. And right now the best thing that ever happened to me is hurting me so much that that I can hardly stand it. I am writing to you because your words expressed my feelings more than I have been able to do lately. I read what you write and I just cry and think, "Comrade!" SOMEONE who understands!

Everyone tells me that time will help. It has only been 2 and a half months. How long does it take? And-- if I have touched the absolute top with this love, is it possible to recapture that-- or do I have to spend forever either settling for something less than I have known or chasing something I can never touch again?

I'm generally a strong person-- I can't believe a little thing like a
heartache could get me so low. I watch other people get through much bigger, much more real tragedies than this-- but for some reason this is just devastating for me. I feel tempted to become like Miss Havisham and shut myself away so no one can ever break my heart again-- but of course, I know that's ridiculous.

Somehow everything in the world feels a little lonelier when I can't share it with the person I love. Every site in every city we've been to absolutely haunts me. Yesterday I went to pick up a friend who was visiting from out of town and out of all the hotels in all of Washington, she happened to be staying right next door to the one where I first met Mike. So while I was waiting for her to get something from her room, I had to stare into that lobby where my life was changed 6 years ago.

Life is long and so maybe we will be together again. As long as there is life, there is hope, right? But how long does it take until I will feel whole again and do you have any advice on how to get from here to there? Sitting in my house and mourning doesn't seem to be doing the trick. Neither does trying to forget. Neither does trying to find someone to take his place. Any advice is appreciated. Love, Lee


Dear Lee, Learning to let go of an old love or one that has stopped working is one of the most difficult things any of us face, alas it is something that sooner or later most everyone has to go through.

Letting go is the key to the question you've posed; "How long does it take until I feel whole again." As important as your relationship with Mike has been to you, you have to begin to realize there is something a lot more important . . . and that is getting on with your life.

A lot lies up ahead for you, everything. The more you dwell on the past the harder it is to jump-start your life. Chances are if Mike does come back into your life the relationship won't be the same as it was. If he doesn't return, so what? As far as I know, there is no proof extant that anyone ever died of a broken heart. 

We get knicked, kicked and bruised by love and loving but the experience is usually always worth it. Every experience, good and bad, teaches us something we can apply to the rest of our lives. Time does help, but not without the push we give it. 

I know what you're going through, but it will end. It's up to you how soon you get up, get out and get over what's happened. All things considered life is indeed very short, don't waste any more of it than you have to dwelling on what might have been. I know you'll be OK. The fact that you're asking for help proves it. Luv and keep me posted, Rod

WEDDING MARCH IN MARCH

You have been my favorite poet for years! I would love a suggestion as to a reading for my wedding in March. Any thoughts? Could be something of yours or a favorite of yours. Thanks in advance! WCE

Dear WCE, I'm probably the wrong guy to ask about what I think might be appropriate for a reading at your wedding. Here's a thought, why not post the question on The Rod McKuen Message Center or the Stanyan Message Board and ask the visitors there for some suggestions? The Site Map will lead you to either with a single click.

I know this will work out better for you than anything I might suggest. All the best and I'm pleased at the thought of being a guest at your wedding. Sincerely, Rod

HOLIDAYS

Hello Rod -I am trying to identify the name of your poem that
contains the following line:

" Love is a season and holidays like signposts mark the time."

Al least I think that's the way you wrote it. It's all I remember of the poem but it has stuck with me for over 20 years. Please tell me the name of the poem & what book I could find it in.

Thank you - Cynthia


Dear Cynthia, I turned your question over to Jay Hagan who answered with:

"The poem she is looking for is called "Holidays" and it can be found in the book "Alone." Hope this helps..."

Thanks Jay and here's the text, Cynthia.

Holidays

Holidays were made
for lonely people.
I always meet
the best of these
when holidays are near.
              Rented rooms
become the place to go,
        not fireworks,
               or carnivals
                      or musical parades,
but rented rooms
       with granite basins
and people
who forget your name
before you finish
going down the stairs.

Holidays mean the most
when you're celebrating
what you've found yourself.

Love is a season
and holidays like signposts
mark the time.

MUSIC AND MEMORIES

How do I go about purchasing #3WS1827 and 3WS1730? I have all of your recordings; am 69; have emphysema and in poor health, and this music takes away the anxiety and reminds me of romantic times in the past. please reply. thank you. Bill Lunsford

Dear Bill, Sorry to hear about your poor health and I hope you're taking care of yourself.

Both of the collections you mention have been long out of print as LP's and there are no plans at the moment to issue them as CD's. There is a link to Stanyan By Mail on the Home Page where you'll find a catalog of the LP's, CD's & Cassettes that are currently available. I have a feeling you'll find some familiar titles there. Thanks for writing and again, Bill, take care of yourself. Warmly, Rod 

GOOD TIME MUSIC

Mr. McKuen, I am looking for two albums, Goodtime Music & And To Each Season. Hopefully they are still available. Thank you, Jeff Perry.

Dear Jeff, as far as I know Stanyan BY Mail still has both LP's. Cheers, Rod 

A JACKKNIFE AND AN OLD LOVE

Dear Rod, When I was a younger man you said all of the things I wished I had said ... and as the love of my life passed through (1965-1970 )we shared almost everything that you had anything that you had your hand on ... I have somewhere in an attic many of the small Books and records by you and Glenn Yarbrough and The San Sebastian Strings...

My Question is this. There was a short poem in one of those that I remember a few words from " . . . found a dollar..bought a Jackknife ..played all day..for a while I had everything..I wish i'd known you then"...

These words have haunted me for years (since it all got so
complicated). I would love to read all the words to this short poem again. Could you tell me which Book or album to look for? Thanks. Glad to have found you and your work again..
Bob


Dear Bob, Stay off of those rickety stairs leading to the attic. The poem you refer to is entitled "Three" and it's from "Listen to the Warm." Later I retitled it "Gifts From the Sea" and it was included in an album Anita Kerr and I recorded called "The Sea." Anita wrote a very beautiful melody for it that enhanced Jesse Pearson's reading immeasurably.

While you haven't quoted the lines exactly the way they are written, you are certainly close enough for me to appreciate the fact that you still have a memory of this long ago work. Thanks and all the best, Rod 

YA GOT ME

Correct me if I am wrong... but isn't George W. Bush the 43rd not the 33rd President? Randy

Dear Randy, Whoops! That was my slip of the keystroke. You're absolutely right. Let's hope this new administration takes us forward and not back. Thanks for catching my boo-boo. Cheers, Rod

BOAT RIDE

Hi! Years ago I borrowed an album of your material (sadly I had to return it!) On it there was a poem read by someone (not you) with orchestral backing, it was called "Boat Ride" or "Boat Trip" sorry I can't give you more ifo but I would like to find out what that album was can you help? Thanks Ruth Richards

Dear Ruth, "Boat Ride" is from the album "Lonesome Cities"
And it was read by me. Sincerely, Rod

WRONG RICHARD

This is to ask whether the Richard Sassoon to whom you dedicate the poem on the "Lion in the streets of Jo'burg" is the same Richard Sassoon Sylvia Plath was in love with before Ted Hughes. I am wondering whatever happened to him. Diane Hunter.

Dear Diane, "A Lion in the Streets of Jo'Burg" was dedicated to Richard Sassoon the head of Warner Bros. Records South Africa branch. Richard was especially kind to me and of great help on my first trip to that beautiful country.

It was a very different South Africa in those days and Richard helped make it possible for me to be the first entertainer allowed so sing in front of "mixed" audiences. People of every hue and persuasion were able to attend my concerts and I like to think that in some way it helped to break the culture color barrier in South Africa.

I know for a fact that my actions helped many Black performers, including Johnny Mathis and Sammy Davis Jr., decide to play Southern Africa.

As to Sylvia Plath's Richard Sassoon, I haven't heard of him in ages and I'm as curious as you are to know what he's up to. Kindest Regards, Rod 

FOR S. C.

Curious, what inspired this poem? Someone I love deeply, who has since passed away, shared your poem with me. I could only wonder the thoughts that entered his mind while he read. Thank you for your time. Jamie Gentry, Locksburg, AR

Dear Jamie, "For S. C." was written a long time ago to describe one of those perfect moments you have with someone you're in love with. Warmest wishes, Rod

CAPE HATTERAS

Hello, I was wandering the web and somehow in looking for stuff on Jacques Brel ended up on a webpage for YOU.

How nice. I fell in love with your stuff while in the Army and for years your "Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows" was on my side table. I loved your Elements Trilogy too, especially "The Sea"

I used to listen to that on warm nights laying on a nice blanket on a lonely beach at Cape Hatteras while contemplating the Milky Way. Highly spiritual experience.

Have not checked out any recent work, will do. Thank you Rod for some nice memories. Jerry Long, Arlington, VA


Dear Jerry, Thanks for letting some of my own memories written down over the years become part of yours. It's fitting that a search for Jacques led you here because the older I get the more valuable all the things I learned from him seem to be to me.

I hope you do get a chance to look over some of my newer work. Again thanks for taking me back to your beach blanket days. All the best, Rod

THE LAST WORD

Today's final thought comes from Coral.

OH, DOCTOR!

A woman and a baby came into the doctor's office. She was told to go into a room and wait for the doctor. He examines the baby and asks the woman, "Is he breast fed or on the bottle?"

"Breast fed," she says.

"Well, strip down to your waist;" He orders.

She does. He presses both breasts, pinches them both, and then says, "No wonder this baby is hungry, you don't have any milk."

"Naturally;" she says, "I'm his aunt, but I'm glad I came!" 


Don't forget to join Ken tomorrow for his special feature "This One Does It For Me". Sleep warm.

                         RM 1/21/2001 Previously unpublished.

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Richard Dean Anderson o Humphrey Bogart o Princess Caroline of Monaco o Dan Duryea o Sergei Eisenstein o Gil Gerard o John Hancock o Rutger Hauer o Ernie Kovacs o Jerry Kramer o Edouard Manet o Jeanne Moreau o Cecile Ousset o Marty Paich o Franklin Pangborn o Anita Pointer o Rosa Ponselle o Django Reinhardt o Chita Rivera o Dr. Laura Schlessinger o Randolph Scott o Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle) o Swen Swenron o Tiffany-Amber Thiessen
Rod's random thoughts Don't be afraid to question, even when it comes to love. The answers may be painful but not knowing is not being loved.

The leanest naked body is the work of God and therefore a love object.

Love is the coming together of two ordinary people in order to become one very extraordinary human being.

RIVER HOUSE

Fish hawks fly above the reeds
and locomotives still pass on
catching in their throats
the dust of one more year
and belching it again into the air.
I go a-berrying for wild gooseberries
to rape the moon-raked fields
                                        of aborigines
long dead and underground,
only black flints left for tracing.
The country keeps erasing its own heritage.

I war with dragonfly and worker ant
                                for my own share
of nature's dropped obscurities.
Albino butterfly on branch,
a speckled roach inside woodpecker drillings.

The columns off at River House
are white, spit polish, shining.
Beyond them rolls the Hudson on and on
and farther still more trees, more reed -
Spring jungle for the house cats,
out after field mouse,
                                    wounded sparrow.
Don't they know it's winter?

Quail and woodchuck mix it up
                   and neither is the winner.
I've tried to catch it all
            inside a Polaroid
but all I get are blues,
unheard-of reds and yellow hues.

The weekend guests are late again
and I've been up at eight again.
Black birch here and lilac soon
bats and starlings duel at sunset
dive bombers in a certain death
then pulling back a foot from ground.

The queen ant's had a castle
                     built around her -
drones, workers, cousin bees bring twigs
and sand grains for the monument.
Even River House has yet to see
                                so many guests.
Serenity lives in these acres.
I could watch the anthill all day long.
Another cat. How many are here quartered ?
Mice have to feel this place a no mouse land.

A fox is stealing chickens
in some ramshackle chicken shack,
you hear mad cackling at different hours.
A hare is in the middle distance,
                                      ears straight up.
The final pumpkin falls
from worn-out withered vine
and frost police descend from branch
                                                  and bough.
Walter, bring the groceries in
the other guests have come.

                               - from "Suspension Bridge," 1984

1969, 1975, 1984, 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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