on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List
Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
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.
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.
Introduction: A Message from the Bunker
SPRING: I Always Knew
I Always Knew
Gods Were Going By
I Do Not Wish to Be
So Much of Spring
Rehearsal for a Sonnet on Your Body
Up and Singing Early
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
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
I Have Loved You Often
AUTUMN: No Easy Harvests
Meditations on October
What Future Stirs the World's Great Heart
Autumn as It Is
On Shelves, in Boxes
WINTER: Age is Better
Age Is Better
The Poet Tries to Make It All Look Easy
Meditations on Immortality
It Gets Late Early
The Same Country
This About Trains
And in the Year of Eighty-eight
To Do List 11/20/88
Weights Lifted as Opposed to Lifting Weights
JHOJOHN VISITS CHAT ROOM #9
JhoJohn Visits Chat Room #9
A Fable Revisited
Rules for the Rear End of the Road
In the Age of Crystal
On Being Stationed Too Near the Romance Section While
Highway One: Hitchhikers
THE MUSE OF UNIMPORTANT MEN
The Muse of Unimportant Men
A Nocturne for Hermes
Edward, April 1999
Emily at Thirteen
Forever Is a Mind-Set
Wayne Massie Is Dying of AIDS
Remembering the Maker of Minotaurs
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
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
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
14.I Always Knew
15.The Muse of Unimportant Men (Birch Trees)
Total Time (77.12)
ASPTL DISC TWO:
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
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
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.
RM 4/22/2001 Previously unpublished.
New Riverton Summer concert
Details can be obtained via the link below:
McKuen Concerts & Appearances