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       FLIGHT FROM THE PAST
MAY 12, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

WADE AND SYDNEY

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 Birthday List.

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 Frenchman."

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.

Wade Alexander.

- liner notes from "Rod McKuen ... Live at the Sydney Opera House"

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

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Paul Anka o William Atherton o Peter Bogdanovich o Emily Bronte o Delta Burke o Kate Bush o Edd “Kookie” Byrnes o Meredith Davies o Lawrence Fishburne o Henry Ford o Vivica A. Fox o Thomas Gray o Tom Green o Brad Hargreaves o Lisa Kudrow o Christine McGuire o Gerald Moore o Ben Piazza o Jean Reno o David Sanborne o Arnold Schwarzenegger o Thomas Sowell o Casey Stengel o Giorgio Vasari o Thorstein Veblen
Rod's random thoughts Only the seed the old tree drops to start another cycle of life is important.

Leadership is the ability to listen.

The planets keep exact time in their revolutions, why can't we keep appointments?

LETTER FROM SYDNEY

The letter finally came
Bushtail possum
         on the postage stamp
seven days from Sydney
                              to L.A.

No six
moving past the deadline
            it came today.

I would that I
were traveling back
with your letter's answer
carried on my tongue
                    to yours.

I would look at you
in the easy winter night
of New South Wales
and you would know
that my urgency
for answers to unframed questions
comes from the necessity
of being with you,
not just the luxury or need.
You are a fact for me
           not dream or fiction.

I agree that time
will test us
but time not spent with you
                           is lost.

                           - from "Celebrations of the Heart", 1975

© 1970, 1975, 1986, 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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