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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Love, the veteran of all wars, wins more battles than the sharpest sword.

 

Good morning! The mail comes from around the corner and around the world today . . .

TWO QUESTIONS

Sir, I am 23 years old and my only experience of you is from my mother's collection of your poetry books dating from 1965 or so until 1973. When she gave them to me, I nestled you between Jim Morrison, Walt Whitman and Emerson.

I do have two questions for you: You seem to me to be an icon of the 60's and 70's. Perhaps your direction in life and the 60's and 70's were intertwined. Do you feel that if the revolutions of the 60's and 70's didn't happen, you perhaps wouldn't be as well known as you are now?

Second question: What event or events in your life do you feel most propelled you on the course you took in life? I am somewhat of a restless spirit at this point in my life, and feel that a greater road is before me than that of what I can see. But I do not know a direction I can take. Thank you much, peace, and good health, Richard Eckert


Dear Richard, Let’s address the most important question first; your future. It’s tough not to be impatient at twenty-three and frustrating to know there is something you should be doing while still wondering what that ‘something’ might be. At your age I wanted to do everything and to some degree along the way nearly all my wishes have been fulfilled, but if it’s of any consolation to you I’m still looking for ‘something to do’ with not much of an idea of what that might be. In other words I’m not totally satisfied with what I’m doing or have done.

It has been my experience that whatever you really want is attainable – if you desire it enough. The trick is setting your sights on a goal then letting nothing get in the way of your being able to achieve it. There’s something you haven’t told me however, you must have an idea or two of what you would like to devote your life to. Do you write, paint, have a head for figures or mechanical hands? When are you the happiest and at doing what? Give it some consideration and get back to me and I’ll be glad to try and give you a few more concrete thoughts.

I think the thing that has contributed most to any success I’ve had is the feeling of always being somewhat of an outcast. I felt different and couldn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Because of that I was always determined to find my own way in the world even if it meant making new paths. And looking back, it has been much more fun leaving footprints than following them.

I’m probably the wrong one to ask for an assessment of whether or not the social and sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies forged or contributed to my success. Certainly whatever is going on in the world has an effect on the artist, especially if you’re a writer who chronicles his own life.

While I’ve written dozens of songs (protest and otherwise) about the social scene and plenty of poetry and prose on the subject, for every “Soldiers Who Want to be Heroes,” “The Things Men Do” and “Some of Them Fall” that fired peoples imagination it’s been my contemplative works and love songs that seem to have hit the highest mark of acceptance. Perhaps, even though I was involved in the 60’s & 70’s movement, my work was and is a kind of antidote to the noise in the world.

From the many letters I now get from people of your age it seems as if a new generation is plugging into my ‘stuff.’ Would I be thrilled at the thought of being an alternative to Rap & Hip-Hop? You bet. As a misfit, the need to be noticed becomes paramount so I doubt that there was much that stood in the way of my making some kind of mark for myself. Success is relative though and I still work at it.

Thanks for the thoughtful note and do write again after you’ve thought a bit about what it is you want out of life. Warmly, Rod

KATE, TONY & JEAN IN OZ

Dear Rod, I am so excited that I have found you. My husband and I have been fans of yours since before our marriage twenty-nine years ago. We saw you here in Melbourne Australia in concert on three occasions. We named our daughter Jean after your song. She is now twenty-six. I stood in line for two hours after one of your performances to get you to autograph a photo for her.

We have always wondered what had happened to you and we are very pleased that you are alive and well and still writing. Your songs are still played on the radio here. I have just been connected to the web and I was ecstatic when I typed in your name and up came all the news about you that I have been waiting for years to hear. I just can't wait to catch up with some of your more recent work. I would like to thank you for the inspiration your songs and poems have given me over the years. Much love Kate & Tony Kenyon- Down under


Dear Kate & Tony, Thank you for the sweet letter. As you and your friends down under know I have great affection for the people of Australia. I’ve visited your country many times for concerts and just plain fun. Looking back over my diaries, I could write a whole book about my adventures in OZ.

I hope Jean is well and thriving; gee, what could be a nicer compliment than having a child named after one of your songs. Speaking of Jean it was a great treat to see Maggie Smith reprising her role of a sort of Jean Brodie School Marm in the delightful new “Harry Potter” film.

Let's hope we have a reunion in Melbourne soon. The various Australian managers who used to present me in my Oz concerts have all gone on to their greater rewards but my First Mate of music, Arthur Greenslade, has settled outside of Sydney. Arthur conducted more of my concerts and arranged more of my recordings than just about anyone. He’s the best. I had a note from his grandson Nigel just the other day.

And, like his grandfather, Nigel has turned out to be a first class musician.

My best to all the Kenyon’s and don’t forget to give my love to Jean, Rod

AN OLD FAN & A NEW COMPUTER

I just wanted to say thank you for your poetry. I just picked up a
computer and there was a song on the radio that I knew was written by you so I pulled up your name. I am glad you are healthy and still going. I will look up some of your more recent works and read them. Thank you again - bye, Gary Irving.


Dear Gary, Thanks for writing. Congratulations on the new computer and most of all on becoming part of our web family here at A Safe Place to Land. There’s lots to explore in these parts and if you check out The Site Map you’ll find that among other things there are a couple of MP3’s you can download and a complete book. If you’re into MP3’s you can look for more here soon. All my best, Rod

CELEBRATIONS OF THE HEART

Dear Rod, I am a big fan. I was wondering if you could tell me where I might find "Celebrations of the Heart. MY local bookstores do not have it and cannot get it. I start my day by reading your flight plan. Your poetry touches my heart. Rudi

Dear Rudi, Thanks for asking about “Celebrations of the Heart.” Dwight Michaels just found another carton of the books in the warehouse, so it can be ordered from Stanyan By Mail. And, Rudi, thanks for the kind thoughts. Warmly, Rod

THE SEA / EARTH / SKY TRILOGY

My mother loves the album "the sea” done around 1967 with Anita Kerr. I was wondering if that only came out on vinyl or if the WB records had put it on CD. Any info would be helpful. Thank you so much! Susan Jones

Rod, in answer to questions, you said there would be a release of The Sea, The Earth, and The Sky on CD (or was I just hoping?) at the beginning of the year. Is that intended for the year 2002, or is there no present plan for this release? I did get The Sea on CD, but my LP's are worn. hopelessly so, and I am very interested in the CD's for the other two, as well. Eamta


Dear Susan & Eamta, No week goes by without heaps of requests for The Elements Trilogy and all the other San Sebastian Strings albums that Anita Kerr and I created. None are currently available on CD but stay tuned because in the coming weeks I’ll have some real news concerning all the albums that comprise the series. Warmest wishes, Rod

WHERE TO FIND IT

Hi my name is Stephanie and I heard about you through a very close friend who has been hooked on your music since she was little. She has always wanted to find the album “Listen to Warm” and The Sea...I believe those are their names, her birthday is in a couple of days and I was wondering if you could help me locate or get these two albums for her, and maybe if you could suggest your most profound paperback.

She has about 10 of your poetry books, which she loves and adores the words. Your thought are profound to her, if you could help me I'd be so appreciative....Thank you. Stephanie Battista


Dear Stephanie, Thanks for the requests. I answered the question about the CD of “The Sea” above. It was issued several years ago but is no longer in the Warner Bros. catalog. The “Listen to the Warm” compact disc is available from Stanyan By Mail.

As for recommending a book, that’s a tough question for any author to answer. What you might do is find out which books she has and then choose something from the list that she doesn’t own. I hope this helps, Stephanie. All the best, Rod

THE FINAL WORD

Today it belongs to SharonAnn Sewell.

“Skinny people piss me off! Especially when they say things like, "You know sometimes I forget to eat." Now, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys. But I've never forgotten to eat. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat.”

Tomorrow Webmaster Ken arrives here with his weekly “This One Does It For Me” feature. I’ll be on hand to see what he’s got up his sleeve this time and I hope you will too. Sleep warm.

 - RM 11/26/01

notable birthdays James Agee o Floyd Cramer o Alexander Dubcek o Robin Givens o Jimi Hendrix o Brooke Langton o Bruce Lee o David Merrick o Bill Nye o Eddie Rabbitt o Rick Rockwell o Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg o “Buffalo Bob” Smith o Fisher Stevens o Don Stock o Cornelius Vanderbilt o Mona Washbourne o Jaleel White
Rod's random thoughts Even blind men fear the dark until they come to understand it.

Solitude can be so powerful that proximity to anything but your own breathing is an intrusion.

To articulate aloud a certain moment, insures its memory.

SATURDAY NIGHT

To see them dance
is always such a marvel
whether they run down
the length of Strauss
or stand in place for Stoney End.

Their motions are as fluid
as a kind of liquid neon,
even on a floor so crowded
that each of them appears
to be the other’s
next of kin.

The dancing
like the darkness
has no starting place
and seemingly no real end.

If you come here
three nights running
you begin to feel
the night starts only
with your arrival
and stops as quickly
when you go.

I wasn’t dancing
but I wasn’t standing still.
I wasn’t hunting, but I hoped.
New Year’s Eve did not fill up
the forefront of my mind.
I didn’t need tomorrow
only now.

Maybe I stayed longer
than I’d planned
for with the music
and the lateness of the hour
before I’d finished living now
I was driving through tomorrow.

Later on the street
the last fall leaves
were flying through
the railings
to float
along
       the
          dark
              canal.

Another evening maybe:
with the winter dead ahead
I had three dozen nights
lined up and waiting
no different than the one
I’d just come through.

I could be content
to walk back slowly
and finally slide down into
the same safe security
that only hotel beds afford.

Knowing that it waited
empty in the darkness
my footsteps quickened.

- from "Moment to Moment" 1973,1975

 
© 1970, 1973, 1976, 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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