SOME OF THE BEST
Tuesday, 4 May, 1999
on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List
Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001
Stanyan Entertainment Group
A Thought for Today
Never be afraid to be alone, because you never are.
A BOOK FOR A
You can imagine how excited I was when Frank Sinatra asked me to write an original album
for him. What could possibly be nicer, more flattering and challenging than being
commissioned by the worlds most inventive and popular singer to write and compose
something, let alone a whole album, for HIM. It was like winning the Nobel and The Lottery
on the same afternoon. Scintillating and scary.
A Man Alone was meant to be a highly personal work and at Franks suggestion I spent
a lot of time with him, over the next year. Quiet, quality time that Ill never
forget. We talked about everything and I mean everything. I had spent my lifetime up until
then getting to know the performer, I was familiar with everything hed recorded and
had hunted up and owned all of his 78s, before the invention of LPs. I
dont think I ever missed an Old Gold Show or any of his Your Hit Parade series on
radio during the war years. Now I was being given an extraordinary chance to get to know
the man as opposed to the performer.
I think the result of our collaboration speaks and sings for itself. Both of us were very
satisfied with the album and the making of it created a bond that even his death a year
ago couldnt break.
When the album was finished and before its release, I wanted to give Frank something
special. But what. What could anyone possibly give Frank Sinatra? I finally settled on
writing an appreciation of the man and publishing it and all the lyrics to the songs in a
Limited Edition of 500 little orange (his favorite color) books. I numbered and signed 400
copies, which I gave to Frank to do with as he wished. I kept 100 copies, many of which
were signed and numbered from 400 on and marked "AP" for artists proof.
Frank gave his to friends and special fans, I know this because Ive run into many of
them over the years. I gave some of mine away and kept a few. A few, very few, contain
both of our signatures and over the years have been auctioned for charity. I had no idea
that the book would take on its own life and that thirty years later it would become one
of my most collectable works. It is, after all, only forty pages long. It cant be
measured of course in the terms of the love that went into it.
Heres some recent mail concerning the book and the album.
A MAN ALONE
Dear Rod, I've always been a huge fan and I love that you now have a
web site. I know you wrote a book for Frank Sinatra, A MAN ALONE. Do you know if any of
those books can be found? I would absolutely love to have one. You and Frank are my all
time favorites! Thanks a Lot! Naomi
Dear Rod, Just a bit curious. Was just on eBay where a Sinatra/A Man Alone limited edition
is being bid on. It is up to over $150. My question is; I have one that looks identical,
except mine has a white jacket with an orange title on the front and a black and white
picture on the back. But mine also has no number or signature on the page where it should
be. There is just a line. So is mine more unusual, or less? Don't want to get rid of it
obviously, just a bit confused. Thanks, Wes
Good Morning Rod, Just thought you might like to know that a copy of A Man Alone is now
going for $152 on eBay. Quite a price for one of your books. Waterfalls back at you, Jay
Dear Rod, Have you seen this? I copied it from Barnes & Noble. "Frank Sinatra a
Man Alone McKuen, Rod. Condition: 1st ed., F, no jacket as issued; 1/500 copies SIGNED by
McKuen. From the author's note: "This book is not for sale. It is limited to an
edition of 500 copies signed and numbered by the author of which 400 copies have been
presented to Mr. Sinatra. The remaining 100 copies have been retained by the author."
Unique Sinatra item. Format: First Edition / Signed. Craig Hokenson Bookseller Dallas, TX
Our Price: $513.50." And from the same listing is the album you did with Frank
Sinatra A Man Alone. "Condition: very good near fine record, still has plastic over
jacket, has been played. Wonder Book and Video Frederick, MD Our Price: $37.50"
My question is this. I know Stanyan By Mail is the only place where I can order the Frank
Sinatra LP of A Man Alone, now that the CD is no longer available, but will you ever make
the book "Frank Sinatra: A Man Alone available? Charles Terman
Dear Naomi, Wes, Jay & Charles. About half the edition has plain orange covers with a
sheet of clear plastic as a dust cover. The other half has a white dust jacket with the
words "Frank Sinatra, a man alone, Rod McKuen" on the cover. On the back is the
famous shot of Frank, at the first session, dressed in a T. Shirt & love beads
(thinking Id probably turn up that way) while Im in a sport coat and tie
hoping to please him. Both versions are bound in orange boards with the title stamped in
gold. The Library of Congress card catalog number on both versions is 70-104171. What
makes yours a bit unusual, Wes, is that it is unsigned & unnumbered. Well have
to take care of that.
Yes, Jay, that is quite a price and so is the one Charles quoted. Whew. Finally, Naomi and
Charles, Dwight does have a few copies of the original edition at Stanyan By Mail. Rod
AND, A WOMAN ALONE
Great finding your (beautifully designed) site. Your work was very
much part of my coming of age during the glorious 70s, and I was always gratified to hear
artists include your songs in later recordings. But none surprised me more than Nina
Simone when she included 3 of them in the exquisite A Woman Alone. I would be very
interested in hearing any recollections that you'd care to share about the experience,
whether you met or conferred with her by phone, and, in general, what your reaction was to
the finished work. I found this site through the Songbirds list, a wonderful group of
fiercely dedicated and knowledgeable fans of female singers who honored (and new ones who
still honor) the Great American Songbook. I think you would find this very interesting
email to add a sparkle to your mailbox, so this is also an invitation for you to join.
Best regards, Alfred Zelcer
Dear Alfred, Ive been a Nina Simone fan for as long as I can remember. In fact we
both played some of the same clubs during the 50s & 60s; alas not
together. I felt privileged to know her early on and watch her career develop. The first I
heard about her recording my songs was when producer Michael Alago called and told me she
had selected three and was going to call her album "A Woman Alone."
I thought that was a wonderful tribute to me
and to Frank. I never attended any of the sessions but was thrilled and delighted with the
results. Nina is a truly unique singer and she brought something totally different to the
songs than anyone else has.
Since its release a couple of years ago, Nina has publicly declared "A Woman
Alone" her favorite of the many albums shes recorded. Songbirds
does sound interesting. Send me some information on the web site (if there is one) or the
E-mail address and Ill pass it along. Thanks, Alfred. Rod
So glad to have found you! Now, the gluttonous one for quality
works, I'd like to find Glenn Yarbrough also. Last I heard, he was going to sail around
the world. That was around the 1970's? Sure miss your collaborations. Thank you for YOU.
You've added a lot to my 54years. Roni Bell, Denver
Dear Roni, Not only is Glenn around and about, but he has several CDs out (including
a couple of our collaborations) and is still performing. He has a web site youll
like too. Regards, Rod
A FRIEND FROM VIETNAM
In 1968 I was a young soldier in Vietnam and The Sea helped me make
it through some bad times. In 1969 I was sent to Germany and discovered the Rod McKuen fan
club so I sent in my application and joined. I bought all the books and albums as they
came out. Then one day I got a letter from you, Rod, along with some Not-For-Sale records.
I was tickled. My greatest regret was that I played them
over and over until they became so scratched only I could hear the music...others simply
heard scratchy noises. Later I got a full sized LP in a plain white cover and, written in
red ink, was a notation from you that said, "Ernie, in (date) a new movie is being
released called The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This is the soundtrack from that movie. I
hope you enjoy it (signed Rod McKuen)." It became and remains one of my most
Through the years I bought the books, words, music, and albums by Rod McKuen. I delighted
finding your works being performed by so many people. I can still hear Jimmie Rodgers'
version of The Lovers by just thinking about it. Alas, that album (Child of Clay), too,
became scratched beyond salvation. I listened to everyone who was someone perform your
works; from Glenn Yarbrough to the Smothers Brothers to Sinatra but none conveyed the
depth of feeling that you did.
For helping me through some incredibly tough times, for introducing me to some great
poetry, and for sharing Anita Kerr (and the San Sebastian Strings) with the world, I thank
you. Ernie Martinez, Danbury, CT
Dear Ernie, Welcome aboard. Sometimes I find it hard to believe any of us survived the
Vietnam era, those of you who went away to serve and those of us who stayed at home and
watched the body count on TV. Of course, many didnt survive or came back as mentally
damaged men who barely knew boyhood before they left.
Some of the letters Ive gotten over the years from Viet vets. have been so personal
as to be heartbreaking. You and I really go back a long time, Ernie, to know you made it
back safely means a lot to me, This www thing has never been more important and meaningful
to me than right this minute. Love, Rod.
It takes me 40 minutes to drive to work
each day. That is long enough for me to sing along with about half of my favorite songs of
yours. On the way home I do the same with the other half. It's great! Thanks. By the way,
did you ever really watch 77 Sunset Strip? Regards. -Christopher Lech
Dear Christopher, Watch it? I once did a guest shot on it. Rod
CAUGHT IN THE QUIET
Hi Rod, Saw Jays mail about the price of your books on ebay. How
about a copy of Caught in the Quiet on Alibris for $480? Check it out for yourself. Blue
Dear Ken, Im in the wrong business. Instead of being a writer I should be a used
bookseller. An interesting price considering "Caught in the Quiet" can be
downloaded from here for free or bought new for $12.95 from Stanyan by Mail. Rod PS: Say
nothing to Dwight or hell raise the price.
WHO HAS TOUCHED THE SKY
Hello. My name is Dennis McNulty; I live in Sioux Falls,SD. Years
ago I owned an album by Mr. McKuen and The Anita Kerr singers. One of the songs on that
album had lyrics "Who has touched the sky, who has seen the sun as it went running
by, etc. I loved that song, and have without luck searched for it on CD. I am wheelchair
bound with MS, so if you could help me locate a copy of this wonderful album I would be
forever grateful. I do remember that the original album cover was a bright yellow. Thank
you very much for your assistance in this matter. Yours truly Dennis J. McNulty
Dear Dennis, The album was called "Bouquet" and was A San Sebastion Strings
"Greatest Hits" collection. "Who Has Touched The Sky," is from the LP
"The Sky." This is one of Anitas most evocative themes and her score for
"The Sky" is built around it. No CDs have been issued, but both LPs
are available by mail order. Cheers, Rod
A BOOK OF DAYS
Hi Rod, You have ALWAYS been my
favorite contemporary poet and songwriter. I was thrilled back in November of 1984 when I
was able to meet you at a book signing at Diamond's (department store) in at a mall in
Phoenix. "Rod McKuen's Book of Days....and a month of Sundays" was the book, and
you kindly wrote in two places for me, making it all seem very personal, and me very
special. I was unhappily married at the time, and I thought I would wait until I was able
to (emotionally) get a divorce to write in my very special book, though I read it over and
over again. I figured I wanted to have good things to say, and in the place I was then,
nothing good would come out. Well, that was 15 years ago, and the pages are still bare.
But I did get a divorce two years ago. And your book is still very special to me, as you
are. For many years after that book signing, I would get a Christmas card from you, and it
reaffirmed what a caring and genuine person you are.
On the front page of my book, you wrote: "Dear Linda- See you in CALIFORNIA!"
and drew a big palm tree. I actually am in California now, but unfortunately I've yet to
run into you! Anyhow, I just wanted to say "thank you" for all the wonderful
thoughts, insights, feelings, and memories you have created for me. I hope you are well
and happy. I also want to tell you that your book of days has always been an inspiration
to me, so much so that I am going to do a web page devoted to all those special moments
that create one's own personal "Book of Days", where hopefully people can
contribute how they have learned and grown in the moments of each day. Much love to you,
Dear Linda, Thanks for a thoughtful letter that brought back a favorite book tour. Glad
your life is going well now. You sound enthusiastic and at peace. Good luck with your web
page, it sounds like a great idea. All the best, Rod
AND AUTUMN CAME
Hi, Happy birthday Rod early! Thought you might see this before all
the hundreds of e-mail you get every day on your "ask Rod". Do you think you
will ever reprint your first book "and autumn came"? If not how about a download
or some of the poems for your birthday on Flight Plan for April 29th! Love everything you
do and Happy Happy Birthday! Melissa Berridge
Dear Melissa, Dwight Michaels, who runs Stanyan By Mail has found copies of ". . .
and autumn came" in a warehouse in Eagle Rock and they are now for sale. Thanks for
the interest, Rod
RM First published 5/4/1999
Itís odd re-reading the start of this Flight Plan while getting ready to leave on the red eye for JFK and then driving to Atlantic City for Frank Sinatra
JR's opening. Young Frank is the obvious keeper of the Sinatra flame and I believe as the years go on it will become more and more apparent that he has all the goods to do so. Sleep warm.
appearance dates just announced!
Booking for "An Evening with
Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for
Concert & Appearance Details