FLIGHT FROM THE PAST
MAY 12, 1999
on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List
Rod toasts the audience at
The Riverton Rendezvous, July 2001. Photograph courtesy Jay Hagan.
A Thought for Today
What is finished should be finally done, not hung onto like
a lifeline that will finally stretch and snap.
Rod is on the road for a
couple of weeks and will be back with you sometime during August.
Today's "Flight from the
Past" is a request from Andrea Robb who tells me she just loves the
last line of the poem featured that day.
You and me both, Andrea!
- Ken, Johannesburg, July 30
Rod is taking it easy today (I hope!) which
gives me the opportunity of continuing my sporadic look at Rod's liner notes - one of the
great sources of information available to serious students of any artist.
One of the problems with advancing years is that the memory isn't as sharp as it once was
and I can't for the life of me remember if we've ever featured anything by Wade Alexander
in the Flight Plans to date. Anything, that is, apart from his meticulously researched
So today Wade bursts into print with what I think is his first contribution to a Flight
Plan - an eloquent tribute to Rod during what appears to have been a somewhat
controversial Australian tour.
- Ken, Johannesburg, May 12, 1999
It wasn't Rod McKuen's first trip to
Australia; and it most certainly won't be his last. But it was quite some visit and one
that will never be forgotten. As one of the few Americans selected to appear during the
gala opening season of the magnificent Sydney Opera House, Rod's two concerts had the
distinction of creating world-wide publicity both for the hall and the artist.
Disturbed by what he considered to be exorbitant ticket prices charged for his concerts by
the promoters, Rod stepped in to alter the situation. After offering his proceeds from the
concerts to Australian charities, he went on to publicize the need for a reasonable and
fair concert pricing structure - one that would enable audiences from all economic levels
to attend performances at the Opera House.
Newspapers and magazines around the world picked up on the story, and Rod's two concerts
in Sydney were immediately in the international spotlight. But long after headlines die
and controversy is forgotten, the important thing - a man's performance - remains. For
when Rod McKuen stepped on stage in Sydney something magic happened. He was not Rod
McKuen, the crusader, the newsmaker ... he was Rod McKuen, the poet, the composer, the
performer. People who came out of curiosity, left spellbound ... because of the man, not
his publicity. The spotlight had shifted from the tempest to the talent.
What is highlighted on this album is the one-to-one communication between Rod McKuen and
each individual who sees or hears him. For Rod is captured and appreciated best on an
individual level. He is a worldwide celebrity - not because of an overnight sensation with
one hit record or one universally popular song, although he has had his share of both.
Rather he has been discovered by people in country after country ... each finding
something perhaps a little different in him at first.
In America, millions first came to know him as their own personal poet, expressing in
words what many feel but cannot quite put down on paper. Rod gave them the words.
In France, he is revered as "America's Jacques Brel" - the only American
chansonnier comparable to the incomparable Brel. The acceptance in France of Rod's
recordings in both French and English have all but made him an "honorary
In Spain, where one might consider language a barrier to understanding the McKuen
mystique, it was Rod's classical compositions which first touched the hearts of the
Spanish people. His guitar concerto "Someday We'll See Spain Together" is now a
permanent part of that country's musical heritage. Recent translations of Rod's poetry
have brought an appreciation of his lyrical talent as well.
In Holland, an up tempo protest song, "Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes" followed
by the Greek dance-beat, "Without A Worry In The World" became the two biggest
selling hits in recent history. And so there Rod McKuen was first considered a rock &
roll pop star before the Dutch discovered his ballads and poems.
Even behind the Iron Curtain, pirated-unauthorized translations of Rod's works have made
him a brand new kind of "Voice Of America."
And so it is in country after country. A different introduction to the same new friend -
Rod McKuen, the man who knows no musical or artistic boundaries. A talent so vast and
diverse, that with every listening, every reading - there is something new to discover and
uncharted territory to explore. Piece by piece we assemble the composite of a man who can
reach, touch, feel, express something inside of himself, inside of us.
That is what happened on stage in Sydney, for nowhere else do all the facets of Rod McKuen
so perfectly merge to communicate as when he is performing. All other considerations are
irrelevant when Rod McKuen is on the stage and you are in the audience. But even the
distinction between "stage" and "audience" becomes meaningless. There
are just two of you - there is Rod, and there is you. And sometimes there is just one, for
both are the same.
- liner notes
from "Rod McKuen ... Live at the Sydney Opera
Rod McKuen concert and
appearance details can be obtained via the link below.
Concert & Appearance Details