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A Thought for Today

Letters will always be necessary. No one is collecting Walt Whitman’s computer readouts.


One of the great things about the job I do here at ASPTL is that over the past few years I've assembled a collection of McKuen "stuff" any serious collector would sell their mother-in-law for. Thanks to Rod's generosity I now have a pile of books, albums and memorabilia, some not generally available, to which I refer almost daily while compiling and editing the Flight Plans.

This wasn't always the case. Prior to the launch of the web site I had just two books and a handful of old, very worn vinyl albums in my possession. Strange how things disappear - a book lent here, an album there and before you know it there's not a whole lot left of what was once a pretty substantial collection.

At the time I was extremely distressed to find a whole pile of McKuen documentation missing. Articles from local media following his 1975 tour to this country, the program from the concert itself and my most prized possession, a letter from Rod written way back in 1970.

It may surprise some of you to know our association goes that far back and none will be more surprised than Rod himself as he has absolutely no cause to remember that letter. As a young, aspiring singer I had written to Rod telling him how much I enjoyed his work and that I used a lot of his material in a folk singing job I had in a local bar. At the time I wasn't sure he'd even heard of South Africa and I certainly didn't expect a reply.

But a reply was what I got and boy, was I impressed that not only had someone had taken the time to type it out, but Rod himself had signed it. I treasured that letter for years and was devastated when it went missing.

You can imagine my joy when daughter Nicola unearthed the letter just yesterday along with a whole pile of old Stanyan mailings and Christmas cards. There's a lot to be said for moving house; it forces you to sort out stuff which has lain hidden for years and that's exactly how Nic got her hands on this treasure trove. It's all still intact, if somewhat moth eaten, and by way of celebration I thought I'd share the letter with you today.

Rod, with that letter you made one helluva impression on a young kid 30 years ago and nothing's changed to this day. Thank you.

To close I thought it fitting to post the lyrics to one of the first McKuen songs I ever heard. No prizes for guessing it was sung by the incomparable Glenn Yarbrough and it remains one of my all-time favorites.

Next week, a lovely letter from Dolores reminding us of how important animals are in our lives. Meantime, if you have a favorite McKuen song or poem you'd like to share, let me know about it by dropping me a line at and I'll do the rest.

 - Ken, Johannesburg, May 23

Booking for "An Evening with Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for more details:

Riverton Concert Details

notable birthdays Mitch Albom o Barbara Barrie o Drew Carey o Lauren Chapin o Rosemary Clooney o Joan Collins o Michael Colombier o Scatman Crothers o Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. o Betty Garrett o Marvelous' Marv Hagler o Ella & Athol Harley o Libby Holman o Jewel o Herbert Marshall o Franz Mesmer o Robert Moog o John Newcombe o Helen O'Connell o John Payne o Donna Stone Pesch o Artie Shaw o Ray Wood
Rod's random thoughts Take the seemingly imperfect and you will find perfection every time.

Without belief in God, it is more difficult for us to believe in ourselves.

Only out of small things does the whole come.


The bumblebee goes
from the rose
to the marigold,
then goes back to the rose.
The caterpillar climbs
each ribbon of vine
even the caterpillar knows,
the day's so warm
you wouldn't dare touch it
if it lay down by your side.
So come to me, come to me,
my arms are open wide.

Love let me not hunger -
I've been alone so long.
How can a little taste
of wine be so wrong ?
We'll not get any younger.
Come listen to my song
and if you've had a hunger
perhaps you'll sing along.

The day's so warm
you can feel the sun.
What does it matter
what's done in a day
after the day is done ?

Love let me not hunger.
Come and take my hand,
and if you've ever hungered
I know you'll understand.

 - from "The Beautiful Strangers" 1967

© 1970, 1986, 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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