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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

Work ought to be fun for everybody, if it's not someone isn't working hard enough at it.

 

As promised here’s more information on ASPTL.

A SAFE PLACE TO LAND: THE BOOK & CD SET

Hi Rod, Is it too late to request a first edition? If so, let me know how to get one. (I have ordered from Stanyan before and I don't see A Safe Place To Land). Thanks, Linda-Jean Fredrickson

Dear Linda-Jean, First Editions are still available, but just so you’ll know the third and fourth printings have already been ordered. Follow the link to Stanyan By Mail and you find the listing. Warmly, Rod

Hi Rod, Where is summer? Today we had all 4 seasons - pleasant Spring morning, by noon it was Summer, this afternoon I had to change from shorts to jeans and jacket, and now the wind is howling and it's pouring.

The tomatoes don't seem to mind the hot to cold and back to hot weather - the ones that have blossoms are setting fruit.

Tonight would be a good night to curl up with a good book. God, I wish I had THE BOOK. It's been so long. Have a good weekend. Love, Ann


Dear Ann, The weather here has been a mirror of yours. Not that I’ve had much time lately to get outside and check it out. Tomatoes coming along, but never fast enough to suit me.

You should have ‘The Book’ by now. I’m dying to hear what you and others who have ordered it think of it; not just the poetry but the overall design (which is certainly unlike anything published before) and the content and quality of the CD’s. As ever, Rod

For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s a table of contents on both the book and the CD’s.

THE BOOK

There are 62 poems plus an introduction, index to first lines and a biography. The book runs to 150 pages and while several poems have been printed on The Flight Plan and a few in Folio, this is the first time they have been collected in book form. The book is in seven sections.

Contents:

Introduction: A Message from the Bunker

SPRING: I Always Knew

I Always Knew 
Sleep 
Gods Were Going By 
I Do Not Wish to Be 
So Much of Spring 
Rehearsal for a Sonnet on Your Body 
Some One 
Up and Singing Early 
Epiphany 
Where Will I Rediscover You 

SUMMER: Entreating the Moon

If I Could Hold the Summer in My Arms 
Another One in a Row 
Entreating the Moon 
Margana 
In Praise of Morning 
Some Hours Go By 
A Serenade in G Major 
Girls in Summer Dresses 
I Go into the Garden 
From a Roman Journal 
Apres Vous 
I Have Loved You Often 

AUTUMN: No Easy Harvests 

Empty Places 
Meditations on October 
What Future Stirs the World's Great Heart 
Autumn as It Is 
Unexpected Gifts 
On Shelves, in Boxes 
Empty Houses 

WINTER: Age is Better

Age Is Better 
Confession 
Dangerous Liaisons 
The Poet Tries to Make It All Look Easy 
In Time 
Old Friend 
Meditations on Immortality 
It Gets Late Early 

ROUND ABOUT

Roadwork 
The Same Country 
This About Trains 
And in the Year of Eighty-eight 
Folding T-Shirts 
To Do List 11/20/88 
Weights Lifted as Opposed to Lifting Weights 

JHOJOHN VISITS CHAT ROOM #9

JhoJohn Visits Chat Room #9 
Self-Pity 
A Fable Revisited 
Rules for the Rear End of the Road 
Stars 
In the Age of Crystal 
On Being Stationed Too Near the Romance Section While
Signing Books 
Highway One: Hitchhikers 

THE MUSE OF UNIMPORTANT MEN

The Muse of Unimportant Men 
A Nocturne for Hermes 
Edward, April 1999 
Emily at Thirteen 
Waldo's Way 
Forever Is a Mind-Set 
Waldo, Three 
Wayne Massie Is Dying of AIDS 
Remembering the Maker of Minotaurs 

INDEX OF FIRST LINES
BIOGRAPHY 

THE CD’s

Since I’ve always felt the listening and reading experiences should be separate from each other, the poems on the CD’s in no way follow the order they are found in the book. This is particularly important to me because I have scored the CD’s in the same manner I score a film. Musically it is related to both the “Listen to the Warm” and "Lonesome Cities" CD’s, but the score is much more classical in nature. Still I’ve utilized many pop rhythms including bosa nova and three-quarter time.

The recording is really a dualogue for voice and piano. With the piano appearing in a solo, chamber and full orchestral setting. One recurring theme is “Birch Trees” which is used in orchestral as well as quartet settings. Some of the music has been written over the years, while much of it is new including Cavatina for Trombone, In The Night and the serenade “Let Me Take You with Me.” 

I’ve used my piano sonatas and quartets liberally with some appearing here for the first time. “Manchester,” my orchestral tribute to that great British landmark, works perfectly with Weight Lifting as Opposed to Lifting Weights / Folding T. Shirts. I don’t think it’s been heard since the premiere in Croydon by the Royal Philharmonic in the early seventies. 

I successfully resisted the strong temptation to score “A Serenade in G Major” in that key.

Four of the five songs all have new vocals recorded in February of this year. “Moment to Moment,” “The Ivy That Clings to the Wall” and “Solitude’s My Home” will be familiar to you. The latter may be a bit jarring at first because I have no idea where the voice came from that sings the verses. Certainly it is not a voice I have ever used before or one I recognize at all. After performing it in a single take at about 4:30 AM I debated on whether or not to even include it in the program. But, it’s me now and therefore valid. I’m indifferent to it now and didn’t sing it the same way in concert earlier this year.

I introduced “Blame it on July” in Thousand Oaks and Chicago and it seemed to go over well. I love the sound of a vocal riding over strings and a bosa-nova beat. An all bosa-nova album still remains a valid dream. Other than the obvious choice of “A Man Alone,” my favorite Sinatra album is “Sinatra sings Jobim.”

Just for the hell of it I included “Spring on the River” a previously unheard track recorded but not used for the 1958 album “Lonely Summer.” It’s not coincidental that it follows the poem “Meditations on Immortality.” I spend nearly as much time thinking about the final sequence of an album as I do recording it – often changing the sequence from one pressing to the next. 

The McKuen tenor of 43 years ago is miles away from the baritone of today, but I hope “Spring on the River” will provide an enjoyable and perhaps amusing contrast.

While the combined CD’s run to nearly two and a half-hours of playing time with 37 poems and five songs they still represent less than half of the book. I hope to record the entire work in sequence for the blind.

ASPTL DISC ONE: 
1.Some Hours Go By / In Time 
2.Entreating the Moon / In Praise of Morning
3.Sleep 
4.Epiphany / Where Will I Rediscover You 
5.So Many Others, (2001 vocal)
6.So Much of Spring 
7.Gods Were Going By 
8. A Serenade in G Major 
9.Girls in Summer Dresses 
10.From A Roman Journal 
11.Blame it on July (2001 vocal)
12.I Have Loved You Often
13.Apres Vous 
14.I Always Knew 
15.The Muse of Unimportant Men (Birch Trees)
Total Time (77.12)

ASPTL DISC TWO:
1.Old Friend 
2.Roadwork / The Same Country 
3.Confession / Dangerous Liaisons 
4.Meditations on October 
5.On Shelves, In Boxes / Empty Places / Empty Houses 
6.Solitude’s My Home 
7.A Nocturne for Hermes
8.Self Pity 
9.Meditations on Immortality
10.Spring on the River (vocal) -Recorded 3/31/1958
11.In The Age of Crystal 
12.I Do Not Wish to Be 
13.What Future Stirs The World’s Great Heart? 
14.Weight Lifting as Opposed to Lifting Weights / Folding
T. Shirts 
15.Age Is Better 
16.This About Trains
17.It Gets Late Early
18.The Ivy That Clings to the Wall, (2001 vocal) 
Total Time (77:37)

For those of you who have ordered ASPTL or plan to do so, it might not be a bad idea to download this description of the discs. Since the recording and sequencing of the album came while the book was being printed and bound, none of the above material comes with the CD’s.

The A Safe Place to Land Book & CD project is something I’m very proud of. Does it rank with my best work? Only you can decide that and any feedback pro or con would be much appreciated.

A very special Happy 90th Birthday to my friend the talented cameraman, producer, teacher and above all director, Ronald Neame. His credits include in various capacities, In Which We Serve, Major Barbara, Great Expectations, Blithe Spirit, Tunes of Glory, The Horses Mouth, The Odessa Files and The Poseidon Adventure. First and foremost in my heart he directed Maggie Smith to an Academy Award and me an Oscar nomination for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” 

Tonight the British Academy of Film and Television Artists is deservedly honoring Ronald Neame with a lifetime achievement award. Ronnie is truly a man of many parts and a magnanimous friend. Happy, Happy Birthday, Ronnie.

Sleep Warm.

                         RM 4/22/2001 Previously unpublished.

New Riverton Summer concert details announced! Details can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays

ST. GEORGE’S DAY (UK)

Scott Bairstow o Valerie Bertinelli o David Birney o Shirley Temple Black o Blair Brown o James Buchanan o Judy Davis o Sandra Dee o Joyce DeWitt o Halston o Jan Hooks o Melina Kanakaredes o Lee Majors o Vladimir Nabokov o Ronald Neame o Roy Orbison o Sergei Prokofiev o William Shakespeare o Craig Sheffer o Herve Villechaize o Bud Wilkinson

Rod's random thoughts Everything comes together in the spring.

All life is imagery, but imagery is seldom life.

Making peace with an enemy has more than once rendered him helpless.

FOR EDWARD ON APRIL 27, 1999

All these years
of being brothers,
being friends and partners.
Living through the ups and downs 
and in-betweens.
Trusting tomorrow as much as today.
Finding our way through labyrinths
no minotaur ever had to thread.
Knowing whatever Ariadne
waited up ahead would be worth
       the thicket tread.

All those times remembered.
                         good times mostly,
when we faced dragons never flinching
                         and won in every battle.
Our basic training being honesty
                              to one the other.

Spring is late this year, but you still
seem the same as you have always been
in all those Aprils that arrived on time. 

Happy birthday little brother, big partner,
                                      enormous Friend.
All these miles and miles together and no end 
in sight. May you live forever and may I be
the last to raise a glass in your direction
                                    bidding you Bon Nuit. 

                               
- RM • 27 April 1999
© 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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