20 March, 2001














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Rod in action at The Riverton Rendezvous, July 2001. 
Photograph courtesy Jay Hagan.

A Thought for Today

Row with the current not the times.


NOTE: Tomorrow, September 1st, Rod returns with brand new Flight Plans & the first one will contain a new “Love Letter Unsent.” Below is our final Flight Plan From the Past in this series.

Nothing is ever easy. 

Many of you know that the new book and CD set has been held up at Customs now for nearly two weeks. After days of trying to learn why the shipment couldn't be delivered I finally reached a customs agent who told me that the paperwork accompanying it wasn't filled out correctly. It seems that the six thousand pieces were listed as books and not CD's.

Mind you there are no duty on either books or compact discs, both are imported under the same regulation. I had instructed my representatives in Korea, where this hybrid is manufactured, to list them as "book/CD sets;" but they were informed it had to be called "CD's" or "Books" because no such item as 'book/CD sets' was described in the regulation book. This seems correct, since as far as I know this is the first animal of its kind to swim from Asia to the United States or anywhere else. So much for innovation.

Anyway, the shipment was arbitrarily listed as 6000 books. When a copy was opened on this side of the pond it was apparent to the Customs Inspector that in addition to a 165-page book each slipcased item contained two CD's. One in a pocket on the inside front cover of the book and another on the inside back cover. "I'm sorry," and this a verbatim quote, "but the paperwork will have to be resubmitted from Korea declaring that it is a shipment of 6000 Double CD's."

OK, that has been set in the works. Meanwhile I asked the co-producer of the project, Steve Ann, an American-Korean who is in Seoul just to oversee the whole thing, if he could send me a few copies by DHL Air Carrier so I could finally see it. He did, and they arrived on Friday. 

What a really gorgeous package and what a thrill for me to hold my first new book in my hands since 1986 when both "Intervals" and "Valentines" were released. So far so good. I immediately FedExed a copy to my editor Susan Badger. She was as delighted as I was and told me so in an E-mail Saturday morning. We Ooed and Ahhhed via E-mail exchanges like proud parents.

Then the telephone rang late Saturday afternoon. It was Susan (she knows I hate the telephone so it had to be something important.) "Rod, have you played the discs in the set yet?" I confessed I hadn't, though I had set down and read the text.

"Do it, then call me back," she purred.

The label and the contents are correct on the beautiful blue disc in the front of the book and I sound pretty good too, best of all the musical score and the songs really work. On to the lovely green disc in the back of the book. The label is fine, but what's this . . . disc two has the same contents as disc one. 

Oh no! 

Oh yes!

Does this mean that all six hundred copies in the harbor have the same SLIGHT fault? Yep. Did I get upset? Not really, these things happen. It's really nobody's fault. Never mind that everybody rushed to get this set ready for the concerts. We made it, but the books didn't.

Everybody includes Susan who corrected and recorrected the manuscript and then did the same over night on the galleys . . . and poor Michael McDonald my recording engineer at Private Island Trax, he stayed up nights mastering and removing smacks and clicks from my vocal tracks and balancing the orchestra. And Steve, how would I break the news to him?

I waited a day, then called Steve Sunday Night (Monday Morning in Korea) and described the situation. There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Probably the language difference, I figured. His English is better than my Korean and anyway I have a habit of talking fast, particularly on the dreaded telephone.

"Please, Mr. Rod, could you FAX this information to me?" I could and I did.

Steve will be flying back to Los Angeles Thursday evening and carrying with him six thousand newly mastered discs as excess baggage. He and the discs will arrive before the estimated April 1st date the books are expected to be here.

Edward, Charlie, Dwight, Bob and anyone else I can corral will be spending a delightful April Fools Day white gloved and unwrapping shrink wrapped packages, discarding one green disc and inserting another and then, with a borrowed shrink-wrap machine, sealing them up again.

Anyone who wants an autographed copy probably ought to order it now from Dwight at Stanyan. That way I can sign them between the old shrink-wrap and the new. The price is $55.00 each or two for $100.00. Do we expect to make any money on this first edition? No. But, eternally optimistic, the second printing has already been ordered. I figure lightning can't strike twice in exactly the same way. 

I'm right, aren't I?


Here in no particular order are some things that happened as a result of the recent concerts.


A guy representing a punk group called "Listen to the Warm," who specialize in covering my songs came back after the show at Thousand Oaks and promised to send me a sample of their work. I can't wait, really. Meanwhile I'm trying to figure out a way to order the British Group Spell's album "Seasons in the Sun" and their single "The Ever Constant Sea," but I can't find an address for their label Pixie Post. Yesterday I told you about Bric-A-Brac's interesting album of my work.

Kim Cooper, who edits Scram, the best underground zine anywhere,  and who is partially responsible for the re-release of my "Beatsville" album, informed me at the same show that The Cacophony Society (!) plan a reading at my star on Hollywood Blvd. on my birthday. She says "they are an interesting bunch, and I'm sure they will make it a fun event." I don't know I'm up to attending that one, but I appreciate the thought. I did tell Kim I'll consider her invitation to be part of her Scramarama event in September. She's also planning a review of the concert in the next issue of Scram using the infamous Crisco/Disco album as an illustration.

I should get out more often. 


Hats off to Rita Bartlow who put together and hosted a party for the Rod Squad and visiting fans from around the world before and after the Aurora concert. I hear it was some shindig and the establishment where it was held even put on their marquee "Welcome Rod Squad." Did anyone get a shot of that? Anyway, Rita really gets things done and I've had many letters commenting on her event. 

Jana's birthday was also celebrated at the party and Wade sent his regrets because he was attending Bessie Lorraine Bowls 80th Birthday in Philadelphia. Apparently everyone adopted Paul Dolman who had come over from England and Mark and Bea Thompson even gave him a place to stay. By now it's pretty general knowledge that Rita is the best hostess since Ethel Merman (But, can she sing?)

I couldn't make that party, but around 2:AM after I left the theatre I dropped in on Jay, Cheryl, BethAnn, Melinda and tara (we were all staying at the same hotel.) I had a long drink and a lovely conversation with all of them. Jay, or Mr. America as I call him, was decked out in his trademark red, white and blue and Beth Ann was fetching in a Tuxedo outfit. Meeting Cheryl really made me appreciate the woman behind the man and it was the first time I'd seen Melinda since last fall in New York. It was also my first talk of any length with tara, whom I had finally met earlier in the evening. It was a great way to kick back and come down after the concert.

I should get out more often.


Friday Night I spent two hours wandering around O'Hare Airport in Chicago trying to find Jerry who was meeting me. Apparently Bob Brown was lost at the same airport/same time. Had I known we could have commiserated over a martini. I sure could have used one. I finally gave up and took a cab to the hotel. Now whenever anyone asks me how far a certain town in Illinois is from O'Hare I can tell them $60.00, plus tolls and tip.

On Sunday morning after no sleep I got to the airport at 6:30 AM and discovered my flight had been delayed and then cancelled. Have you ever tried to exchange an American West ticket for one on American Airlines? Forget about it. 

Should I really get out more often?


A dip into the mailbag.


I just visited Glenn Yarbrough's web site and many of us are
wondering if you two might do a concert together. It would be such a wonderful thing. We love your poetry and we have tapes of him doing your words......we love them so much. Thanks for the wonderful gift you give to the world. If the concert ever comes to pass, please come to TUCSON, AZ.........Actually, Sierra Vista, AZ would be even better. Joan Bowman

Dear Joan, Let me think a minute. Since Glenn and I both have the same concert manager (who by coincidence lives in Arizona and Glenn will be appearing in a Tucson casino next weekend) and last week we had a conversation in Chicago along the lines of your letter, anything is possible. Stay tuned. All the best, Rod 


I have a CD of this with Perry Como - not the best but all I could find. Can you direct me to other recordings of this beautiful piece? Bellbouy

Dear Bellbouy, I like Perry Como's version of "And I Love You So" a lot. It has added meaning for me because Perry chose "I Think of You," a song I wrote with Francis Lai, as the follow up to his hit recording of "And I Love You So".

There are a number of excellent recordings of "And I Love You So," including a sensitive reading by Vera Lynn, but perhaps the best one is by the writer and composer of this great standard, Don MacLean. It's available on one of his "Greatest Hits" CD's that includes "American Pie" and my favorite MacLean song "Vincent." Cheers, Rod


Dear Rod, Having loved your songs for many years, I found your website whilst looking up something else on search engine. I always keep an eye out for your records, especially in second - hand shops, where you may find things not available elsewhere. I have always wondered what "I've been to town "is all about.

Even though we may not have a tremendous amount in common as regards place of birth etc. (I am writing from Scotland), the song always amazes me when I hear it. I particularly like Brook Benton's interpretation of this song. Would love to hear from you, your songs still move people. Lots of Love, Eddie McGonigle. (in Glasgow, Scotland).

Dear Eddie, I like Brook's reading of it too and it pre-dates Sinatra's definitive version. Perhaps the best way to explain "I've Been to Town" is to think of it as a poetic euphemism for 'I've been around.' If you substitute that phrase the meaning of the lyrics should fall into place.

"I've Been to Town" was written a long time ago but I still enjoy performing it and seldom do a concert where it isn't part of the program. Luv, Rod


Dear Rod, being a fan for a long time and reading or owning most if not all of your books of poetry, I have a dilemma.... I have a cousin from an old San Francisco family, they owned the Eagle Cafe on pier 39, and I could have bet big money on the fact that you mentioned that cafe in one of your S.F. poems. . But I have looked through all of the books I have and find no mention of it.

Was it the 70's and my memory is clouded by some leftover tokes or did you mention that café?

Thanks for many years of re-reading the wonderful words you
write...Looking forward to reading more. Adrienne Hurwitz, Highland Park, IL.

Dear Adrienne, I whiled away many thoughtful hours at 'The Eagle' and I'd be surprised if I didn't write about it somewhere. Alas my memory's a bit dim on where and when it may have cropped up. Maybe someone reading this can come up with the answer. If so, I'll pass it along to you. Sorry I can't be of more help. Warmly, Rod


Dear Rod, Today is Sunday and my husband and I are still so relaxed after attending your concert last evening. Welcome Home where you belong. I want my children and grandchildren to know you Rod, I was not surprised when they announced to us on the way out that you would be coming out to talk and sign autographs. As I told my husband, he loves his audience and friends and it was so apparent as you spoke with each one of us, thank you for signing my book, People on their Birthdays is my very favorite and I read it every year on April 28th. (which as I find out is one day before yours)

Oh how I'm rambling, but must say once more what a beautiful night it was and how wonderful it was to see you. God Bless, Marie Reeitalia 

Dear Marie, Thank you for introducing me to three generations of your family. It doesn't make me feel a bit older, only more responsible. You are right about the way I feel about my audience, they are my friends. I hope I'll be here for them for a long time to come. Thanks for a marvellous letter and for the words of good cheer and an early Happy Birthday wish. Warmly, Rod

RM 3/19/2001 Previously unpublished

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Richard Basehart o Warren Berlinger o Eldridge Cleaver o James Coburn o Theophile Gautier o Richard Gere o Debbie Gibson o Arthur Godfrey o Buddy Hackett o Jeff Hardy o Alan Jay Lerner o Frederic March o Maria Montessori o Van Morrison o Itzhak Perlman o Frank Robinson o William Saroyan o Dore Schary o Daniel Schorr o William Sorayan o Jack Thompson o Ted Williams
Rod's random thoughts To love is to lie down with the angels.

Being in and out of one another's favor and embrace causes each of us to try the longer stride next time.

A lie is more trouble to remember than the truth.


And after every summer rain
an August rainbow -
sunlight in the good green wood
laughter in the town
shelter in the noontime shadows
or here inside each others arms.
No one can kill our rainbows
though sometimes the world
seems bent on trying.

I want you to remember
when things don’t go exactly right
in that outside world
that there is some safety here
a rainbow bridge
       a patch of light
at the end of troubles tunnel.

Walk down the day easy
knowing our security is movable
going wherever we go - together.

-from “Celebrations of the Heart,” 1975

© 1967, 1974, 1975, 2000, 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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