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Christmas Eve 2001: Photo by Edward McKuen. ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Each encounter that becomes a friendship turns into a lifeline. One can never have too many, only too many to take care of.


Today the mail comes from far away places.


Dear Rod, Thank you very much for the many songs and poems you have written (and are still writing) I m nearly 45 years old and I learned to know your music through a TV appearance you did on the Dutch Show from Willem Duys. On it you sang Soldiers Who Want to be Hero's and Without a Worry in the World. I bought both singles immediately.

On the B side of `Soldiers Who Want to be Hero's` is the song
Three. Unfortunately the record is so worn out it sounds awful. Is this song still somewhere to be sold on a CD? I looked everywhere in the Netherlands and on the Internet, but could not find it.

The word three is not a great word to look for on Internet ;-).

I really would like to have this song again. Kind regards, happy New Year and thanks again, Dirk Bakkeren, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Dear Dirk, Alas “Three” is unavailable on CD but Stanyan By Mail still has copies of “Pastorale,” the double LP it was originally taken from.

I can imagine your frustration at typing ‘three’ into a search engine and coming up with half a million possibilities based on The Blessed Trinity alone! All my best & thanks, Rod.


Hello Rod, How are you doing these days?

I am very glad that you have been performing in the States again this last year, but I was wondering if there is only the slightest chance that we will be able to see you perform in Europe once again and than preferably in Holland of course. If that chance exists I would love to hear from you.

Doing a special radio show for Christmas here and your music will take a special place, as always. Would love to hear a little message from you to all our listeners. Maybe...please?

Wishing you a merry Christmas and of course all the best for 2002 and hope to see you in concert in Holland sometime again. Thanks for reading this. All the best, Ivo van Dijck, The Netherlands

Dear Ivo, Thanks for the support and I hope the Christmas show went well. My concert manager Jerry Lonn has been trying to put together a European tour but it’s been a bit slow going. You can be sure that when things come together The Netherlands will be a major stop.

I’ll record a message when I’m back in the studio after the 1st of the year, don’t forget to write back with the stations call letters. My greetings & best wishes to you and all your listeners for health, happiness and peace in the coming year. Warmly, Rod.


I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the poem that goes "people riding on trains are nice they offer chocolate cover cherries...” thanks, Jorge, Castillo. Uruguay, South America

Dear Jorge, Greetings from North to South!

Here, thanks to Jay Hagan, is your answer:

“The poem / song Jorge is looking for is called “Underground Train” and it’s from The Earth.

Underground Train

People riding trains are nice.
They offer magazines
       and chocolate covered cherries.
The details of their intimate lives.

If I’d been riding home to you
       I could have listened with both ears
               but I was on my way away.

Across the aisle from me
       there was a girl crying
long silent tears
       while an old man held her hand.

It was only a while ago you said
        Take the seat by the window
        you’ll see more.

I filled the seat beside me
       with my coat and books.

I’m anti-social without you
I’m anti-world and anti-people too.

At times I think...
I’ll never ride the subway anymore
        at least... not away.

-from “The Earth,” 1969

Keep those questions coming... this is always fun to see if I can remember the poem / song without having to scour my files.
Waterfalls, Jay”

Thanks, Jay. Hope this helps, Jorge. “The Earth” LP is out of print but can still be found at used record stores & for sale on The Net. Warmly, Rod


Hi Rod, I have been reading your works with interest and admiration. You are very gifted and I thank you for sharing with rest of us mere mortals your soul.

Many years ago I used to listen to a particular radio station here in Sydney and they always played one of your poems or verses from a poem at the close of the program.

Anyway, the reason for this letter is to ask you whether you have a poem or story that would be applicable to my situation. See, I am very much in love with a lady who lives in the States and who is a big fan of yours and I would like to direct her to one of your poem that reflects the love and desire one feels for a person a great distance away. I have read her favourites from your website (unpublished works) and your response to this request in due course would greatly be appreciated as we will be spending Christmas on opposite side of this earth. With warm regards, Steve Horvath

Dear Steve, Thanks for the nice note from Oz.

You don’t have to explain long distance love affairs to this guy. Finding myself in the same situation last summer, I ran a series of ‘Love Letters Unsent’ on consecutive Saturdays in the Flight Plan. I’ve probably had more requests to reprint these columns than any others over the past three years.

While it’s a little late as a Christmas present I’ll be re-printing one of the originals this coming Sunday. You might alert your ladylove to that effect or check it out first to see whether or not it’s appropriate to your situation.

Hang in there. More than one romance has been sustained and even grown stronger via The Net. My affection to you both, Rod.


Dear Rod, Things are not to good at the moment so I was looking through my Rod McKuen books etc. while listening to Beautiful Strangers and I came across a programme that you signed for me at the Philharmonic in Liverpool in May 1971 a very special night for me.

Then I found a photograph a friend of my husbands gave me it shows you with his daughter, her Old English Sheepdog and a few other people, there is also a Christmas card that you sent her in 1972. Her name was Margaret Catterall and I'm sure her dog had something to do with your show.

I wish I had asked more questions now. Anyway just to let you know after all these years your poetry and music still manage to help in times of trouble as in times of joy. A very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2002 to you and all your crew. Any plans to visit New Zealand? Love Pat.

Dear Pat, If I had my way ‘Today New Zealand, tomorrow the world.’ Find a promoter and I’ll be there.

People who own Old English Sheepdogs are a very tight community and there are OES clubs all over the world. Once the news got around that I took Mr. Kelly on stage for a bow when I sang his song I couldn’t go anywhere without a Mr. Kelly look alike meeting me. Usually his master was being drug along somewhere behind this hairy behemoth. So, I had Mr. Kelly’s everywhere.

It was terrific and they always seemed to arrive just in time for my ‘mutt fix.’ If I remember right Maggie’s dog was named Arabella but of course she was always Mr. Kelly to me.

Thanks for the lovely words and keep this mantra; “Rod in New Zealand, Rod in New Zealand.” Hey, it couldn’t hurt. Affectionately, Rod.


Hi ! I have been listening to your version of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now on radio here in Norway. The broadcasting company told me it is a track on the LP named is this fantastic song available on any CD? Hopefully to receive an answer... With kind regards Jens Borgejordet

Dear Jens, It’s nice to know Norway hasn’t forgotten me. “Both Sides Now” isn’t yet available on CD but hopefully it will be soon. If all goes according to plan it will be part of a series called Rod McKuen: The Warner Bros. Years. Each CD will contain two complete LP’s & in cases where double albums are involved there will be many bonus tracks.

Stay tuned to this Website for further info. Thanks for writing Jens and stay warm this winter. Norway in December, Brrrrr. Baby It’s Cold Outside. Cheers, Rod.


Thank you for the MP3's, looking forward to the ones to come.
But Thank You most of all for being there in my darkest hour.
With love, LaP


I can't think of a better Christmas present for the "troops" than the downloads you are providing. It's one of the best Christmas presents I received, other that the love I receive from others and the love I give in return. I hope you and Edward had a wonderful Christmas, and may the New Year bring love, excitement, and a FULL concert schedule. Keep smiling:-) As always, LarryJ

Dear La & Larry, Thanks for the encouragement. This seems like as good a cue as any to present today’s download. All the best, Rod.




While writing the notes for the “Early Harvest” in 1994 I said “My first (commercial) album was entitled “Songs for a Lazy Afternoon,” The title song was written by Jerome Moross and John La Touche so it seems fitting to bring this retrospective to a close with another Jerome Moross melody. This time it’s his theme from the motion picture “The Cardinal” with a lyric by Carolyn Leigh. “Stay With Me”.

I’ve always loved this song since I first heard it performed by Frank Sinatra in 1963. Radio disc jockey’s received copies of Frank’s rendition of “Stay With Me” just days before Frank Jr. was kidnapped so you can imagine the effect it had when it was played during that difficult time. “Stay With Me” has always given me great inspiration and consolation. I sang it at all my concerts & benefits in the past year and will do so again in 2002. To my mind it is one of Carolyn Leigh’s finest lyrics and Jerry’s melody is superb.

The song flows without ego and is an affirmation of hope in an otherwise often hopeless life. I think of it as a hymn for loners and lovers and everyone in between. When people question me as to why, as a songwriter, I include other people’s work in my repertoire I’ve only to point to “Stay With Me” or “When The World Was Young” for an answer. Indeed there are so many wonderful songs out there, pity I won’t get the chance to have a crack at them all.

Until its inclusion in “Early Harvest” this remained a lost recording because the track was done with The Royal Philharmonic seventeen years earlier in London without a vocal. Sometimes during a self-produced recording session I like to remain in the booth to concentrate on an orchestral balance before adding the vocal at another date. Alas I’m always available to myself but getting a symphony orchestra back to correct a mistake not heard during the record date could prove a tad expensive. I discovered the 16-track reel containing backing in my basement in 1974 and all that remained was for me to finally overdub it.

The chances of my still being able to sing the song in the long ago set key seemed remote but running it down in the headphones a couple of times set me at ease and there were no problems. The entire 4:13 chart is taken out of temp so there were no rhythmic guideposts to help but I’m very satisfied with the completed performance. The 60 voice strong Ambrosian chorus doesn’t enter till near the end of the song but I think you’ll agree with me that the effect of letting the orchestration build to this point adds real power to the track. Julian Lloyd Webber’s cello work is marvelous.

Track recorded September 12, 1977 at Decca Studios, London and previously unissued. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Ambrosian Chorus. Featuring Julian Lloyd Webber, cello.

Arranged & Conducted by Dennis Wilson, vocal overdub August 6, 1994 at Trax, Hollywood. Recording engineer, Michael McDonald. First issue September, 1994 on “Early Harvest” (Stanyan / LaserLight CD 445). Still available.


Stay With Me

Should my heart not be humble
Should my eyes fail to see
Should my feet sometimes stumble
On the way Stay With Me.
Like the lamb that in springtime
Wanders far from the fold
Comes the darkness and the frost
I get lost, I grow cold.

I grow cold, I grow weary
And I know I can’t win
And I go seeking shelter
And I cry in the wind.

Though I grope and I blunder
and I’m weak and I’m wrong
Though the road buckles under
Where I walk, walk along.
Till I find to my wonder
every path leads to thee
All that I can do is say
Stay with me, Stay with me

(vocal answer) And I know I can’t win.
(vocal answer) And I cry in the wind

Though I grope and I blunder
and I’m weak and I’m wrong
Though the road buckles under
Where I walk, walk along
Till I find to my wonder
every path leads to thee
All that I can do is pray
Stay with me, Stay with me

Words: Carolyn Leigh Music Jerome Moross © 1962 Warner Tammerlane Music BMI. Used by Permission.


(A simple left-click on the above link should start the download automatically. If you're having problems, try right-clicking on the link and select "save target as....".)

Tomorrow a special holiday edition of Pass it Along. Sleep warm

RM 12/26/ 2001 Previously unpublished

notable birthdays John Amos o Gerard Depardieu o 'Howdy Doody' o Tovah Feldshuh o Sydney Greenstreet o Rich Jones o Michael Joseph o David Knopfler o Eva LaRue o Oscar Levant o Dr. William Masters o Connie Nel o Heather O’Rourke o Louis Pasteur o Cokie Roberts o Roy White

And today the great Marlene Dietrich would have turned 100.

Rod's random thoughts Only look back to gain perspective.

Negatives, though harder to see than positives, are easier talked about.

Contrary to popular belief, the end is not the beginning... at least nobody’s come back to tell us so.


I loved your face
on Christmas Eve,
though it was framed
by such a noisy crowd.
Seeing your eyes dance
and dance in my direction
was how I came to know you.

Seeing you beyond the tree
and only later on
beyond my reach
was how I came to love you.

And if you loved my face
as much as you love Christmas.
I’d be safe from year to year.

The same anticipation
that you hold for holidays
would smother me,
and glad I’d be to die so loved.

-from "The Carols of Christmas," 1971

© 1969, 1971, 1994, 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 o Sound & Fury Dr. Eric Yeager o Webmaster Ken Blackie
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