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Rod preparing for his Riverton flight. Photo courtesy Linda Becker.

A Thought for Today

Merely wishing is for amateurs. The professional works for what he gets.


ROD LIVE! Follow this link for Santa Fe ticket information.

I've thoroughly enjoyed all the reports from Riverton and I hope you have too. Huge thanks to Rita, Linda and Larry for keeping us up-to-date with the happenings there and for making us feel a part of the celebrations.

I'm pretty sure more reports will filter through as people return home and we might run those at the weekend. Meantime here's a terrific article forwarded to me by Linda and written by her sister, Carolyn.

- Ken, Johannesburg, July 24

Hi Ken,

Here is a review that will appear in today's edition of The Riverton Ranger.

What a week-end and I am so sorry you missed it.


So am I, Linda, so am I!

Carolyn B. Tyler, Executive Editor

Those 600-or-so of us lucky enough to have tickets to Saturday night's performance by singer, songwriter and poet Rod McKuen, here as the Riverton Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon Guest celebrity, knew we were in for a sensual treat.

We knew we'd hear the magic of music and poetry sung and spoken by the author with the distinctive soft, husky voice. In that we weren't disappointed in the least.

During intermission several people asked me, "How do you like it?

I was able to answer honestly, "It's just what I expected . . . and more."

The real delight was to discover such a genteel man.

The audience was on its feet in appreciation that a man of his professional stature would come to Riverton when he first walked onto stage in un-typical black suit and tie.

They were on their feet in recognition of the old familiar favorites, such as when he broke into "Jean" early in the concert.

The audience rapport built, and they sprang to their feet, when the suit coat and tie came off, grew even more when he returned for the second half in comfortable pink sweater and finally the encore in trademark black sweater.

Even that wasn't enough costuming for the performer who helped convey his comfort with the audience through his attire -- when he came into the Robert A. Peck Arts Center lobby to sign autographs for a patiently-waiting crowd, he was wearing a Central Wyoming College sweatshirt.

That is the photograph scores upon scores of people will have as they posed with him for their own private, personal memories.

Despite starting the day at 4 a.m. (after "a year in the Denver Airport, day-before yesterday") with the picture perfect balloon launch Saturday, McKuen did the whole bit, the Hot Cars, Cool Night Parade, Car Show, a full two-hour concert and entertainment. Finally, McKuen spent until nearly midnight with the lingering fans at the Art Center Saturday.

When he referred, during the concert, to my baby sister as the "Marquis de Linda," those of us who know what concert coordinator Linda Becker has been through the past year and a half to get this (pun intended) "off the ground," could only chuckle and nod.

He met the task.

No one who wanted one, missed an autograph, a photo with the artist, a bit of one-on-one conversation. No one was hurried, dismissed, or brushed quickly aside for the next fan.

During the concert I noticed a lady a few rows ahead of us weeping uncontrollably as the songwriter sang his touching "If You Go Away." Later, in the lobby, she told me her story of that song.

When her late husband was in the last stages of a brain tumor and they knew he would soon lapse into a final coma, she fixed a romantic dinner for just the two of them, and they said their good-byes, to the background music of McKuen's "If You Go Away."

Sometime later I found myself at the autograph table, same friend alongside me. I said to Rod, "She may not tell you this, but she said her final good-byes to her husband with your 'If You Go Away'."

The consummate humanitarian, tired and rushed though he must have felt, turned his entire attention to her, asking about her late husband, how he had died, if it had been a painful, lingering process. And finally he told her, "But the good times you had. That's what matters."

For those few minutes the man who sang to them as they said good-by had time only for the widow left behind.

It's wasn't sad. It was uplifting.

"Count the Blessings of the Day," he writes in one of his songs.

Also uplifting was the reunion of three of the Oakland (Calif.) High School Class of 1951. Former Fremont County Librarian Bill Heuer graduated high school with Rod McKuen and was there Saturday night, hoping for quick greeting. As he waited, he recalled how McKuen had played guitar in the high school music groups. "That's how he started. . ."

It turned into a triple-play. McKuen's new road manager Richard Kornfield, who was on his first road trip with the artist on the Riverton gig, was also a member of that graduating class. The three exchanged stories, laughed, and clasped shoulders as they were photographed 50 years after those high school years and with a variety of fine accomplishments to their credit. Onlookers had to smile with the warmth.

The following morning, the hot air balloons drifted south, over the Wind River Reservation. "Defiance" the hot air balloon, owned and piloted by Bruce Pivic of Rock Springs and sponsored by Riverton Memorial Hospital, hosted McKuen. It settled into a rural homesite and the Native American homemaker came rushing out to see what was the commotion.

She stopped at the sight of the balloon. Her jaw dropped at the sight of the aeronaut.

"Why, you're Rod McKuen!," she exclaimed.

"Yes, I am" he answered in his quiet, unassuming way.

"I've loved you forever," she told him.

The woman exclaimed again and again, "My priest will never believe it that Rod McKuen landed in my yard this morning! He will never believe it."

McKuen stepped to his chase vehicle and retrieved one of the "Rendezvous with Rod" t-shirts he had made especially for the Riverton Rendezvous event.

He personally presented the shirt to the woman and said, "Now wear this to church this morning. He'll have to believe you."

Aren't we all glad that Rod McKuen landed in our yard -- it was an unbelievably delightful weekend.

- Riverton (Wyo.) Ranger, 07/23/01


Frank Sinatra Jr & The Wood Herman Orchestra have only two concerts on their European Tour left and they are both in Spain. On Thursday the 26th they move on to Marbella for a show at the Puente Romano Tennis Club and the European Tour comes to an end in Calello on Friday the 27th at Jardins de Cap Roig.


This coming Sunday afternoon, July 29th Rod joins Sally Kellerman, Bruce Vilanche and an all star cast in Santa Fe, NM in “Live at the Lensic.” For ticket information follow the link at the top of this page.

Rod McKuen concert and appearance details can be obtained via the link below.

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Bella Abzug o Simon Bolivar o Barry Bonds o Ruth Buzzi o Lynda Carter o Alexander H. Cohen o Alexander Dumas o Amelia Earhart o Bob Eberly o Zelda Fitzgerald o Leon Fleisher o Robert Graves o Robert Hays o Dhani Lennevald o Jennifer Lopez o John MacDonald o Anna Paquin o Michael Richards o William Ruckelshaus o Doug Sanders o Peter Serkin o Pam Tillis o Gus Van Sant
Rod's random thoughts Tomorrow is only tomorrow. There is nothing to fear except the coming of another day.

Disguises are so named because they are temporary. Even the chameleon cannot slough off its skin.

Not every wound the wounded carry leaves a visible scar.


Finally the wind has finished
piling up November leaves.
       Now it turns
to drive the snow in drifts
of December farms.

The cattle come slow
        or not at all.
They scratch their backs
against the barnyard doors.
Their dialogue,
even as they chew their endless cud,
is low and mournful.

The lazy longhorns,
down the pasture
venture outside only
for a cooling taste of snow.
The wise among them
stay inside the shed
switching tails at what few flies
now survive the early winter.

Lie back.
The wind is on the move.
Till the bare tree limbs
stand still again
we’ve no need to move at all.

Turn not away from me.
But if you turn toward me,
do it in a lazy way
        and slow.

Let me sleep a minute more.
When the coffee starts to perking,
come to me with smiles.

-from “Fields of Wonder,” 1971

© 1971, 1985, 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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