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

A Thought for Today

A toast to everything that touched us all year long - friends newly met and old friends here and gone but still remembered.



ROD McKUEN at B. B. King Blues Club

Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of the show.

AN EVENING WITH ROD MCKUEN Friday May 17, 2002. Doors open 6:00 PM • Showtime 7:30 PM

AN EVENING WITH ROD MCKUEN Friday May 17, 2002. Doors open 9:45 PM • Showtime 10:30 PM

By phone charge: 212-307-7171
Tickets can also be purchased @ B.B. King Box Office (11am-11pm daily - B.B. King Blues Club, 237 W. 42nd St. Bet. 7&8 Ave, New York City. Club Line: 212-997-4144


On this final day of 2001 I’d like to start by thanking all of you for sticking with me through the year and offer my love and best wishes for all the years to come.


Mr. McKuen, when my parents divorced in 1972, I was 5. My dad used to play the guitar and sing Charlie Rich (If you happen to see the most beautiful girl, in the world (Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone), Ray Price (Lay your head upon my pillow hold your warm and tender body close to mine) and Rod McKuen (We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun) songs, I guess just to make himself feel better.

But I used to sit at his feet and listen. Something about all those words and the sorrow of a six year old boy who for all intents and purposes had lost his Mother, just found their way home deep inside. Then Dad had several of your paperbacks, and when I found them, I devoured them; starting with Seasons in the Sun.

To this day, my wife purchased for me a used Rod McKuen book for my birthday(2001) because she knows how much I have connected with your works. There are only a couple of things in my life that I have connected to like that. The other being a particular translation of the Tao Te Ching and well, Lao Tsu has long since passed.

So while we have this chance, both of us being here at the same time, I want you to know that among the millions who have said it, you have helped comfort me through my life many times, over and over. For that I would like to say thanks. Thanks. Warmest Regards, Russell Fleming, Jr.

Dear Russell, Later this week I’ll be running a Flight Plan concerning some of the many people we lost in the past year and as I was looking over the too long list of folks who passed during 2001 I was struck by how many had affected my life. Some I knew, some I didn’t but almost without exception they had one thing in common; I never had the chance to say a final goodbye or thank them for the difference they made for me.

Good for you Russell for taking the time and effort to drop me a line while I’m still here to read it. You can’t imagine how much it meant to me. I’m passing your example along because all of us have friends or even those we don’t know that we appreciate and the New Year is a perfect time to be in touch. Luv to you and yours, Rod.


I haven't seen you since the late 70's... and since I can't find some of your great records in print anymore I thought maybe in that huge record library you toured me through in your wonderful canyon home, I was wondering if you might have a copy of The Earth. Have you put any others from The Sea collection (The Earth, Home to the Sea, and The Soft Sea) on CD?

If you read this please give me a call - I'd love to talk with you
again. I had another book published after "Just Passing Through". We've lots to catch up on.... Your friend, Logan Clarke

Dear Logan, Hearing from you is a nice surprise. Congratulations on the new book I’m looking forward to reading it. Nothing from the San Sebastian Strings is currently available on CD. “The Sea” was in print for a while and can still be found with some detective work. Will give you a call later in the week to talk over old times. Affectionately, Rod.


Hi Rod, I know you don't recognize my name. I've sent you a few jokes from time to time, but don't get to the site as often as I used to. I'm just too busy these days to spend as much time on the computer as I once did. I wanted to wish you a Happy Holiday, though.

"May the joy of the holiday season be yours throughout the year." I think I read that on a Christmas card once upon a time. I can't believe I said something that hokey to a poet! Oh well, my heart is in the right place!:o) Best to you and yours, Linda Woolacott

Dear Linda, Thanks for the kind holiday wishes, mine go back to you for the Ned Year and long beyond. Of course I remember you how can I forget someone who’s sent me so many funnies for Pass it Along? Thanks again for the jokes & jollies. As ever, Rod


Dear Rod, hello again to you...i wrote about a year ago or longer, even tried to become one of the message board and chat room friends/people, but as vie never been too much good at being a joiner it didn’t quite work out for me, and because of some of the bickering going on at a time in my life when bickering was the last thing i needed more of, i kind of melted away...don’t think i was missed much, although id become quite fond of a few people and have missed their wise and often comforting words...and of course your words and poetry.

I’m so pleased to know that your concerts went well, oh how my
heart was broken to know there was no way i could go to even one...once in my life i can honestly say i was so very envious of the others there...but also happy for them too, because i know I'm not the only one who holds such heart felt love and devotion for you and your poetry. In fact reading yours again on the Flight Plan made me start to feel the tinniest bit of Christmas stirrings in my heart (which i didn’t think id feel this year at all). Thank you for that, and for all the wonderful, sad, lovely, longing, wondrous feelings you’ve brought out in me through all these years I’ve spent reading your work and feeling like i knew you.

Well in case i don’t get back to write to you again, I will be looking at the Christmas Star from here in Albuquerque New Mexico and praying you have the most blessed Christmas you’ve ever had, full of friends, laughter, good food, beautiful music and most of all a hand to hold, and love that has no end. Love and God Bless, Tracy

Dear Tracy, nice to hear from you again and thanks for the kind thoughts. I had a very pleasant and uneventful Christmas, just the way I like it.

The Message Board’s aren’t to everyone’s taste but they do provide a nice clearinghouse for those who want to know what I’m up to. I have no official connection to either of them.

The Rod McKuen Message Center was established by tara Scofield five years ago and is now monitored by Melinda Smith and Jay Hagan. They do a terrific job of overseeing it and making sure that, just like this site, it continues to offer a place to stop safely for information and reflection. Folks who visit the Message Center are always glad to help each other out with information and answers to questions.

The Stanyan Message Center can get a bit hairy and I can understand why you might feel intimidated by it. Some pretty strong opinions get aired there and some of the participants aren’t known for always acting like ladies and gentleman. Dwight Michaels is the host but he seldom monitors or censors it in any way, other than to get fed up once in awhile and clean the place out! Despite early admonishments not to do so people print personal poetry there so I seldom visit it. As nearly everybody knows by now I long ago made it a rule not to read unpublished poetry (where would I stop?) I’m pretty much persona non grata at the Stanyan Message Board. I still have tremendous respect for those who go there to exchange opinions and ideas.


Did you write the song Jean? Was it written for Marilyn Monroe? Who else made the song famous? Thanks in advance for your answer. Kathleen Watson

Dear Kathleen, I wrote the words & music to “Jean” as part of my score for the film “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” Sorry to disappoint you but the song was not written for Marilyn Monroe. It was triggered by the fine performance of Maggie Smith, who won an Academy Award as best actress for her work as the title character. The late Oliver had the number one record on “Jean.’ Sincerely, Rod.


Dear Mr. McKuen, I am a doctoral student at Louisiana State University and a composer currently looking for appropriate texts for a composition scored for Women's Chorus (SATB) with piano and clarinet (and perhaps cello). I recently came across your website and found a poem that interested me for use in this musical setting. The poem is: "Out Beyond The Window" (used in Frank Sinatra's recording on Reprise)

I wanted to ask if you could please give me written permission to use this published poem in my composition? A confirmation via email would be fine so that I may begin the piece, and I will follow it up with any official documentation. Also, if I'm able to use it, you will be properly acknowledged in the musical score and performances, or in any way that you may want recognition. Thank you very much for your time, John M. Crabtree

Dear John, Consider this written permission to proceed. Once you’ve completed the song send me a lead sheet for copyright purposes. I’m anxious to hear what you do with it. Good luck with your efforts, John. Kindest regards, Rod.


I am trying to find an album that my family listened to when we were growing up. It would mean the world to my mom if I could find a copy of it. If it is available, please let me know. Glenn Yarborough Sings The Rod McKuen's Songbook was EXCELLENT! Thanks for your help! Karen Peterson, St. Paul, MN

Dear Karen, that album isn’t currently available on LP or CD but two other CD’s where Glenn performs my songs are in stock. You can order “I Think of You” from Stanyan By Mail and “The Lonely Things’ is available from Folk Era records. Cheers, Rod.


Where can I get a copy of the Christmas in New England video referred to in today's flight plan (12-19-01)? I understand your closing segment is a show-stopper! Having gone for more than 20 years without seeing you in concert or on TV (does an old segment of Family Feud count?), I would love to see this video and add it to my Rod McKuen collection.

Best wishes for a holiday filled with love, peace and understanding. Vicky L. Brasel, Office of the Dean, University of Wisconsin-Rock County.

Dear Vicky, Thanks for asking. Webmaster Ken made my verbal comments look pretty good by putting them in print. Thanks to you and to him. The “Christmas in New England” video is available from Stanyan By Mail for $19.95. Happy, Happy New Year and thanks again, warmly Rod.


Have a business associate who does not have a computer but has been an avid fan for ages. She would like to receive snail mail if possible in the form of catalogs or other information. Her name is Jill Becker.

Will appreciate anything that can be done for this loyal fan.
Sincerely, Alan Kurland

Dear Alan, Thanks for writing. Stanyan By Mail still hasn’t gotten around to making up a current printed catalog so you might print out a copy of the one on the Stanyan By Mail site for your friend Jill. Kindest regards, Rod.


Rod, My name's Steve Collins. I'm a grad film student at
UT-Austin and I'm making a film called "Lonelyland." It's an emotional comedy about my battles with depression and anxiety. My goal has always been to reproduce the feeling of your work in another medium. There is a narrator to the story and I would be honored if you would consider recording the narration.

From the first dusty copy of "Listen the Warm" that twinkled at me in a thrift shop three years ago, you have been of great help to my own life and work. Warmly, Steve Collins

Dear Steve, Ah yes, a “comedy” about depression and anxiety! I must admit you’ve piqued my curiosity. Once your film is finished send me a copy and if I feel narration by me might add to it, I’ll request a script and give it a go. Happy Holidays, Rod.



In trying to decide a download for New Years Eve I figured “Rusting in the Rain" might be just the ticket. I wrote it in 1964 while living at the house on Gardner & Fountain in Hollywood. The following year I recorded it for my first RCA album which producer Neely Plumb entitled “Prolific Composer Rod McKuen Sings His Own.” What a mouthful. At the time the album was done I was known more for my songwriting than performing so it was his way, I guess, of calling attention to both.

“Rusting in the Rain” was arranged & conducted by Gene Page and features Jim Helms on guitar and the vocal choir was headed by Virginia Mancini. It was recorded in August 1965 at RCA Studios in Hollywood with Neely Plumb producing. The recording engineers were Dick Bogart & Hank Cicalo.

Nan Talese always thought “Rusting in the Rain” would make a good title for a book. That’s what I’ve titled the book I’m working on at the moment. Other artists who have recoded “Rusting in the Rain include The Kingston Trio, Glenn Yarbrough and Jimmie Rodgers.


Rusting in the Rain

The old gate is Rusting in the Rain
And children coming home from school
No longer skim their pebbles on the old town creek
That just beyond the bend becomes a pool
And we’ve all grown older, come see where we have been
Out here Rusting in the Rain.

The old house is creaking in the rain
And lovers coming down the hill
No longer stop to linger by the old dead tree
They took away for lumber to the mill
And we’ll all grown older, come see where we have been
Out here Rusting in the Rain.

The old world is dying in the rain
And summer coming ever year
No longer stops to wonder as it goes along its way
Did anybody ever live here
And we’ve all grown older come see where we have been
Out here Rusting in the Rain.

And we’ve all grown older come see where we have been
Out here Rusting in the Rain.

Words & music by Rod McKuen © 1964 & 1965 by Rod McKuen & Stanyan Music.


(For PC users 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....". Mac users should click and hold for menu options, then select the save option. A Mac alternative is to hold down the option button and click the link to download and save.)

 - RM 12/31/01

notable birthdays


Elizabeth Arden o Barbara Carrera o Jacques Cartier o Lord Cornwallis o Burton Cummings o Joe Dallesandro o John Denver o Anthony Hopkins o Jonah Jones o Val Kilmer o Ben Kingsley o Tim Matheson o Henri Matisse o Joe McIntyre o Sarah Miles o Pola Negri o Bebe Neuwirth o Odetta o Nino Rota o Patti Smith o Goran Sollscher o Jule Styne o Donna Summer o Jim Sweeney

Rod's random thoughts All memory is embellishment.

Most maxims are clichés, including this one.

Looking backward helps us to go forward with a sense of purpose.


We pass the signs
the seasons
and the signposts now
at such a speed
that pausing to reflect
on what direction means
grows harder year by year
and yet your God and mine
daily holds His breath
expecting us to listen
and to care about each other.

Across the fields
beyond the highways
and each ocean,
I reach out to you
hoping I’ll be welcomed
by another outstretched hand.

For each day
in the year just starting
and all those days in the years ahead
I wish you love and reason in your life
and most of all
the feeling and reality
of our friendship.

-from “The Rod McKuen Calendar & Datebook, 1974 & “The Beautiful Strangers,” 1981
© 1964, 1965, 1974, 1981,1999, 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 o Sound & Fury Dr. Eric Yeager o Webmaster Ken Blackie
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