home a safe place to land
      ask Rod

july
1998

ASK ROD : Part 2

OTHER RECORDINGS 

Q. What a great way to celebrate your birthday. I wish you much success with your web site. Was the song "Rose" which I love (both words and music) based on a true story? Also are the songs "Movin' Day" and "I've Saved the summer" now on a disc. Years ago when I first discovered your music and poetry, I had a couple of 33-rpm records containing these songs. - How about "The Ever Constant Sea." That "Sin" song is wonderful. Eburne 2.

A:    I've Saved The Summer is from the RCA album The Single Man. The Ever Constant Sea is on the CD Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [LaserLight 12 784]. Sin & Rose are both on Early Harvest CD [LaserLight 12 445]. No plans for Moving Day, but I'll keep it in mind. Rose is pure fiction and holds a special place in my heart because it was my mom's favorite McKuen song.

Q: I can't seem to find the album " For Lovers ", anyway it had a black cover. I 'm looking for Listen to the Warm also. I did manage to find Speaking of Love and it's great. Thanks for sharing your music and poetry, Mikmac.

A:    For Lovers falls into The San Sebastian Strings series and one way or another Anita and I will get that series back on its feet again. Listen to the Warm is out there on CD, it's just hard to find.

Q:  My wife and I have been fans for years we were looking through some old records and the largest group is yours. My wife loves your books and songs. Through the 70s it was always easy to get her a gift that I knew she would love. (Anything by Rod). It is nice to see there are CD's I will have to get her for our 36th anniversary May 12th. She has traveled to see you when you were on tour got your newsletters, and will be thrilled when I show her this page. It is nice to know that Rod McKuen is alive and well and is LIVING. Richard & Carol.

A:    I am happy, well and enjoy being alive a lot. Thanks, Richard & a belated Happy 36th Anniversary. Keep being good to each other.

Q: I went through all your album releases at your web site, I was wondering if I can get the following anywhere, 2SR 5073 • Love Songs / Rod McKuen. I got this double album in the 70's through a mail order thing over the TV. Is it available anywhere anymore, I loved this album, please let it be in CD form. Thank You

A:    Sorry but Love Songs isn't available on CD yet, but you can get many of the same songs in The Greatest Hits Collection.

Q: Many years ago, when I was a young man coming to terms with my Homosexuality, a major force in maintaining my sanity was an album that you composed the music for, featuring the homoerotic poetry of Walt Whitman, and read by Jesse Pearson. I don't remember the name of the album, and did not see it listed in your discography. I wanted to thank you for that album (as well as all your other work!). It meant a great deal to me. Bucky.

A:    Thanks Bucky. The albums were The Body Electric 1 and The Body Electric 2. Jesse Pearson did such a wonderful job on the narration and was so easy to direct that those sessions really stand out in my memory. Whitman has always been my favorite American poet and writing music to his beautiful images came easy. Glad we were there to help.

THE FIRST ALBUM 

Q: Good Morning Rod, Welcome aboard... we've missed you. I am an avid collector of your records and CD's. Recently my record supplier sold me a record he said was your first. It was called 'Songs for a Lazy Afternoon'. Is this in fact your first album or... was there another? If so...what? I have a fairly large collection of Rod albums, CD's, books, etc. Over the years and through various moves some of my things have gotten 'lost'. I have tried to replace things but... You mentioned the 'Stanyan Archives'. Will this (Please, Please, Please) contain items that are for sale? Have a better than average day and Sleep Warm, Jay Hagan

A:    Good Morning Jay. Technically Songs for A Lazy Afternoon is my first album and it's very hard to come by since it was recorded just about the time Noah started building his ark. I did record an earlier album that wasn't widely circulated, called Lonely Summer for a small California label Bond Records. If I can find a copy I'll make a dub for you. For those of you unfamiliar with the name Jay Hagan, he is one of the stalwart members of tara's RM Message Board and Ice Wine's McKuen Poetry section [2 of the early McKuen web sites] Based on his postings I would turn to Jay before any of my own filing cabinets for dates, times, titles and locations of my songs and poems. His knowledge is truly amazing, even to someone like Wade Alexander who's been on the inside for 30 years and knows my catalog like no one else. Jay's always coming up with and posting some long lost poem or song child of mine I thought nobody knew and loved but me. I'd love to see him put together a list of titles for my next spoken word album, using tracks from existing LP's that have not made their way to CD yet. When he types a poem of mine for the message board, he always gets the line breaks and punctuation right, something Word 98 can't seem to do even with the author at the keyboard.

Q: I could not find anywhere listed on the website to indicate
where one could purchase recordings onsite. Is there such a site? I am interested in a CD of the spoken album In Search of Eros. C. W. McKissick

A:    In Search of Eros isn't available on CD, but I've thought of coupling it with Time of Desire on a single CD, or better still issuing both separately with bonus tracks containing unrecorded poems or isolated poems from LP's that haven't made their way to CD yet. Any thoughts on that? For where to buy see the answer to the next question.

Q: For those of us who are not yet familiar with/or do not have technical capability to download your recent recordings can you provide other options. Can you please add available recordings to your site and/or tell us how/where they can be purchased. Looking forward to your new publications. Paul H. Krieger at the Red Rocks concert, 1970. And there was a similar letter from Peggy who wanted a complete list of books & records and a source for buying them. Simply copying the discography and bibliography to your scrapbook & downloading it to your word processor will give you the list.

A:    Before long there will be a designation in the Discography section as to which format each recording is available in, CD, LP or Cassette. As to where they can be purchased I refer you again to Johan's list of Where To Buy on tara's McKuen Message Board Site. If you know somebody who'd like to buy several storage spaces of McKuen books, records & "stuff" you can contact Edward McKuen at this address & he'll be glad to stop paying storage charges. All kidding aside, we are trying to arrange for somebody to take over the McKuen stock on hand since we no longer have the time or resources to sell books & records through Stanyan Mail Order. Ken and I have had lots of discussions about an Airport Gift Shop but Mail Order is such a time intensive job that so far we've decided to leave it to the professionals. Stanyan was once in the mail order business & we have a warehouse full of stuff, but just not the time or personnel to handle mail order anymore.

THE WAR YEARS 

 

 

 

 

Q: Imagine my surprise when after so many years I find an old friend in my living room! I'd listen to your recordings in the early 70's. They traveled with me throughout the Army and college. When I got married they were not needed anymore. However once in a while they call me. I don't have the records anymore but they play just as well in my mind. Thanks. Bob. DIV

Q: I returned from Vietnam in the Autumn of 1967. I expected to see a number of friends a bit later but they never arrived. Instead, I made new friends Thanksgiving Day, 1967 as we fasted on Restaurant Row, La Cienega & Wilshire. In protest of that which made me Old Friendless, a lady gave me Listen to the Warm. Thank you for that and all of the rest. Joe Young

Q: I remember several times while I was in Vietnam our unit received 'care packages' from you and Stanyan. Books, records, candy, cookies. You have no idea how much they were appreciated. Andy

A:    My feelings on The Vietnam War are pretty well documented. I hated The United States being involved in a dumb war we couldn't possibly win, but felt our men and women serving there should be respected, honored and taken care of. I did send packages and letters and so did everyone at Stanyan. And I attended and put in my 2 cents worth at anti-war rallies and marches. None of this seemed a bit schizophrenic to me. I was against the war, while being for those fighting it and being killed, maimed and some coming home brain damaged as a result of their service to our country. Those feelings haven't changed except that I'm more ticked off than ever that many of our Vietnam veterans still aren't being taken care of properly by their country.

FINDING MY FATHER 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I think I learned about the book about your search for your father via a TV interview in 1976. I was very interested because my first love (in high school) had given up a child born out of wedlock (those were the days when Dad had no say). He had grieved and wanted to make a home so much for that baby, that the subject has long had my full attention. I have carried a love for a lifetime for this man who was not able to be monogamous after that loss (i.e. I looked for someone who could -- yeah, Right!). I read your book in its entirety on the first New Years (1977) that I ever stayed sober. The experience was awesome. I had so many questions. I thought about writing, but did not, and then when I was ready I could not find you anywhere. That aria, The Stone Song, nailed me. It was my own. I made notes on the whole book and would still like to discuss it. I just found you (my son put me on line), so I will be locating my notes. Welcome back!!! Where is the update on your time away. I know it would be worth reading. Carol

A:    Your story reminds me of so many I've heard since I started the search for my father. One of the reasons I wrote Finding My Father was to try and get some laws changed or amended making it easier for birth parents and children to get in touch with each other. The book was instrumental in amending statutes in England, but we have a long way to go in the United States before reasonable laws are passed. More than an up date on my "time away" is in the works Carol, but that's about all I can say on the subject right now. Meanwhile ASPTL is a good place to find out about anything new I'm up to. This is home & you folks are 'family' so whatever is happening or about to happen will be talked about here first. Carol, it sounds to me like you've straightened your life out pretty well. When you find your notes, come on back & we'll have a long chat.

Q: Please help me to locate a poem Mr. McKuen wrote. It starts..."Mama canned currents and mama canned peaches and____ (I can't remember!) It ends with him saying something about wishing he was 7 again, and wanted to ride the bus back to his mother. Please help. Tess

A:    Tess, it's actually part of a song I began writing when I was about 12 and never got around to finishing. I used it to open Chapter 4 of my memoir, Finding my Father. Here it is;

Mama canned currents
And mama canned peaches
And Mama washed clothes by hand
And us kids had more
Than the people next door
For we had a mama
Who played the piano
And taught us to read
By the light of a lamp
A sailor man brought her
From some foreign land.

And I wish I was seven again,
I might even settle for ten
I wish could go
To the Saturday show
And take the bus back home again.

Seems like I was kind of young to be waxing this nostalgic.

AT RANDOM 

 

 

 

Q: tara's something, eh? Mary [Mary is tara's lover in law, a term coined by Hale Matthews to denote the relative of ones love. Good term, eh?]

A:    She certainly is. I owe her many thanks for the last fourteen months of her RM Message Board. Plan to write her a long letter when I can get off the keyboard and back to pen and paper. Hmm. Wonder if I can still hand write. By the way if you put a lion in a cage with just WebMistress tara and her whip, I wouldn't bet on the lion.

Q: You were and still are my favorite poet and the autograph that you signed for me in 1970 at the Rendezvous in SF still hangs on my wall. All my best regards

A:    Ah The Rendezvous! They don't make nightspots like that any more.

Q: I attended a performance of yours in Greenwich Village some years ago and the experience was so awesome, I wrote a short story about it. The true story is comic, as well as tragic, and wonder if I need your permission to get it published. I am a GREAT FAN and am a former fan club member. Raymond, Massapequa Pk, N

A:    As long as it isn't libelous or contains any existing copyright work, I don't see why you'd need my permission or anyone else's to have it published

Q: You said once that a hunter goes out in autumn, searching for love because if you're alone in autumn you'll be alone all winter long. Mr. McKuen, is it true? Kja1984

A:    Kja, sounds to me like I was a lot more cynical in those days than I am now. Still, autumn and being alone when the leaves turn in unfriendly weather is a recurring theme in my writing. The line was appropriated by Alan Jay Lerner in one of my favorite songs for Paint Your Wagon, Another Autumn. Keep looking, Kja, whatever the weather, pay no attention to old poets. But, do read the rest of that quotation. It'll be coming up soon in one of the Flight Plans.

Q: I'm delighted to find this Rod McKuen WebPages! I'm looking forward to visiting your "Safe Place to Land" regularly. Something recently brought to mind a poem I'd read long ago. It was in a paperback publication of McKuen poems that I read from cover to cover as a teenager. That book fed my young imagination about love and sex and romance. I've been surfing the net trying to figure out what book it was in....I've also checked libraries, book stores, etc., and can't find it. Can't find my old paperback either...I'm sure I loaned it to a friend who never returned it. Part of the verse in the poem I'm particularly searching for is: "I have loved you in so many ways...In crowds and (or?) all alone....While you were sleeping beside me...." If you can tell me where I could find that collection....I'd be so grateful! Thanks...happy to see you out here in "cyberspace," Mr. McKuen....I am, Admiringly...a fan, Deb.

A:    The poem is entitled I Have Loved You In So Many Ways and was in the paperback "Seasons In The Sun." It first appeared in my third hard cover book "Listen To the Warm" where each poem was referred to by a number. It was number Fifteen.

Q: In the early 70's we heard you at a coffeehouse in LA. You were on the bill with the Smothers Brothers. You did a poem about your father--what was it? I have looked for it for years and have many of your books but I still have not come across it. It was very moving to me. Kelly B

A:    It might have been Biography the opening poem from Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows, or any one of a number of poems used as introductions to chapters of Finding My Father.

YOU CAN'T PLEASE 'EM ALL  Q: what is this......one day I can reach you..the next it takes
forever. Today......its as if you do not exist............I wanted to ask....... With certainty I s'pose of no reply......though I ask with sincere respect .......however harsh the question may seem.....
Is it with true hunger....... You write again......and hope to tap your fellow neighbors.......or just simple greed.....to obtain the heralded barn.......or whatever materialistic ........Thing. I take offense to your obvious pleasure......regarding your statement of having the audience....only to purposely........lose them.....simply for the thrill 'n challenge of winning them back..........where's that soul we once embraced......I see it not in your casual words......your casual photographs echoing your comfort.
Have you forgotten..........poetry is read and bred......from people....victims.....of having a heart and soul.................duval

A:    Lady or Gentleman, er duval, are you sure you got it all off your chest or is there more? None of your questions seem harsh. I write because I have to write, that's what I do. Whether or not I get paid for it is beside the point. I am, however, happy to have made a living at it for 5 decades. Beats digging ditches & graves and working in soup kitchens which I've also done. Interaction with a live audience is the most exciting thing in the world to me. I don't apologize for playing with them any more than they would apologize for doing the same with me. We used to play together often & we had lots of fun - you should have come and seen us. I miss it like crazy.

"Poetry is read and bred from people, victims of having a heart and soul" What kind of babbling nonsense is that? Poetry is hard work. Ask any poet and they'll tell you it's like any work, more perspiration than inspiration. It isn't easy to find the right word to describe an emotion you feel and want to express. I've been writing for a long time and my soul has yet to leap out & hand me a finished poem. If it did it would scare the hell out of me. Poetry isn't bred, it's more like bread. You don't copulate to produce a poem, although screwing your mind now and again couldn't hurt. And if someone screws with your heart, so much the better for the poetry but worse for you. I'd hardly call anyone with a heart and soul a victim. I'm certainly not. If I have problems, I usually bring them on myself. If I get sick it's because I didn't take care of myself. It's important to me to take responsibility for all my actions good or bad.

Please, please, don't bandy the word victim around till it becomes of no use. Millions of Jews, Homosexuals and members of other minorities were victims of the Holocaust; Everyday in this country women are victims of domestic violence; children are routinely victimized by other children in schoolyards; Ethnic cleansing has victimized civilized and non civilized nations around the world. A Black man was recently tortured and dragged behind a speeding pick-up truck, just because he was Black, And, it happened in these United States. Victims are people who find themselves in situations where they have no power over a particular circumstance. Again don't trivialize the word victim by applying it to something as unimportant in the scheme of things as mine or anybody else's poetry,

Sorry if I look happy in some of my pictures, but I really am. I will get my barn, it's been a life long dream and I expect to make that dream come true. If you promise to behave yourself and look and act casual, you might even be invited to the barn raising. But I warn you in advance; It's going to be lots of fun.

McKUEN/BREL  Q: I came across this site while looking at the news about Frank Sinatra. Rod (and because of him) Jacques Brel, were important parts of my adolescence and young adulthood. Now I'm a 42 year old mother, wife, mortgage banker, singer in my youth, and thrilled fan. I work with some Belgians who were amazed to know that I knew about Jacques Brel--I'm adding this site to my favorite list! Thank you. Skkc.

A:    The great privilege I had of working with Brel & Sinatra made me a better songwriter and a better human being. As a writer and performer I've had the good fortune of meeting and coming to know more than a few people of exceptional talent and true genius, none more so than Jacques Brel and Frank Sinatra. Each changed my life in more ways than I could possibly enumerate. Before Frank and I began our A Man Alone collaboration he recorded two Brel/McKuen songs, If You Go Away and I'm Not Afraid.

Q: For some time I have been researching the link between Jacques Brel and yourself. My understanding was and is, that you co-wrote, through translation, though I was never sure if you co-wrote with Brel the original lyrics for any songs. Perhaps you could say something of the method of your Co-operation with Brel and what you feel was your contribution, and to which songs. This is a most important point, and one that only you can answer. Jim Bennett [Note: Another part of Professor Bennett's letter appears in a section of this column under "Critics", RM]

A:    I have always termed our work together as collaboration, translation and adaptation. As an example; I wrote the words and music to The Lovers and Brel translated it some years later as Les Amant de Cour. To You was a complete collaboration from start to finish and we have a dozen or so unpublished songs in various stages of completion that I hope to assemble one day. On Seasons In The Sun [Le Moribund]. If You Go Away [Neme Quitte Pas], Zangra, Les Bourgeois and The Statue I stayed as close to Brel's French lyric as translation into English would let me, given the limitations and compromises that have to be made in going from one language to another. Though I'm proud of those songs, nothing could touch the original Brel lyric. I have written at least three sets of words to the melody of Fils De. I'm Not Afraid and Still We Go On have absolutely nothing to do with the French lyric. Sons of the Rich, Sons of the Poor, my third lyric to the melody is entirely based on Jacques original setting. No one has ever heard it because until recently I just wasn't completely satisfied with it. I'm ready to record it now as part of the next Brel/McKuen project. Le Plat Pays literally means 'the flat lands' and is Brel's description of his homeland in Belgium. There is no place quite like it in America, so as my homage to Jacques I wrote The Far West, describing my homeland. As you can see Jim, it's not really all that complicated but it isn't an either or situation. Hence my description of our work together as collaboration / translation / adaptation. One day we'll meet and talk about it at greater length. Meanwhile if you don't have the McKuen Sings Brel CD or LP, Eric Jaeger has posted the complete liner notes on his Listening To The Warm Web-Site.

AND HOW DID YOU ENJOY 
THE PLAY MRS. LINCOLN? 
tara is my brother's lady. She has sent a proud email to announce your site to friends and family and I come by way of that notice. She brought back a memory when she first told me about her site. You read poetry to me (and the rest of the Jubilee auditorium). That was in a different time and I don't remember much of the actual readings. I more remember what happened after. I remember feeling uplifted and kind and off to meet "friends" at the Cecil Hotel. It was not then and is not now one of Edmonton's finest hotels although it makes scads of money. As we walked in a male was holding a female by the throat (that's the kind of establishment it was/is). She pulled a knife on him. She had made her point. He let her go. We still sat down to have a beer. Strange memory, huh? (or, eh?) I always refer to that evening as the "ultimate culture shock". Still loving your stuff after all these years. Mary

Q:  Why did it take so long for you to come back and "help shoulder our old flags"? Okkfry

A:    For more detailed reasons you can read Webmaster Ken Blackie's recent interview with me. But it boils down to being tired of the road & enjoying being home. And I went through a bout of clinical depression that left me at times feeling I wasn't proper company for anyone, especially fans and friends.

WHO WAS THAT MASKED 
MAN, ANYWAY? 

Q:  While researching in reference books to try to dig out a comprehensive list of your work, I ran across a mention, supposedly made by you to an interviewer, that you had written some verse under a pseudonym in more traditional form and that it had been very positively critiqued. Did you actually do this; and if so, what is the title and pseudonym? Also, I note on your list of publications shown here no mention of the Rod McKuen Omnibus. Since I have a copy of this, I would like to verify that it is an actual authorized publication. Great to see that you haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Look forward to new book(s). Sincerely, Wes Fish.

A:    That's a true story, Wes. It really happened. But you don't honestly think I plan to reveal the name of my alter ego. Naw. The Rod McKuen Omnibus was published in Great Britain by W.H. Allen & contained Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows, Listen To The Warm, Lonesome cities & 12 additional poems. Soon we'll be doing a section on international publications & Omnibus and all the other overseas books will be listed

CRITICS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I read you like crazy in the beginning. Loved your song lyrics and wished I'd written some of those poems in "Stanyan Street Revisited." I even sang and read you in a "musical" some of us put together when I was in the army in 1970. Now I teach poetry to high school students and sometimes run across your poems used in comparisons to others. Often the point is that yours are simple, sentimental, and saccharine. How much does it bother you that some see your poetry as second-rate? C Moore

A:    I can't imagine anyone wanting to see his or her name next to anything but glowing adjectives. But it comes with the territory. I closed the introduction to 1971's Rod McKuen Omnibus by saying "Finally, a word about critics. If I sell 5 copies of a book they are unanimous in their praise. If I sell ten I can expect one dissent. If the number grows to ten thousand my reviews will always be 'mixed.' At ten million I have detractors of every persuasion, most notably those reviewers who read the statistics not the books. None has a banner bright enough to carry me past the sunset, and no known or unknown legions' unsheathe swords' sharp enough to silence me. I say it again the poem is me, I lived it or am living it. I accept no advice on how it could or should be lived."   

Q: I just checked out your website. Didn't realize that you have been so prolific, and have been publishing since the mid-50s. Your recent unpublished poems from "A Safe Place to Land" struck me as among your most interesting work--terser, more conversational, less romantic, and less singsongy than your general trend. Still, I think they could be improved by invoking fewer deities and high-flow concepts and just focusing on the objects around you, and perhaps using less Elizabethan diction such as "'tis" and "ye." What I like most about all your work is that Eros is always at the surface. Keep "it" up. Jim Kobielus, Va

A:    Guilty, Jim, of overdoing it with the deities. Good advice telling me to watch it. Physical lovemaking is kind of spiritual to me. It might be because I get so little of it that I tend to hold it aloft. But my cleanliness is next to godliness [as in a good clean, or sweaty, body] is getting to be a bit much. Think you would have gotten a kick out of a bit of self-censorship I imposed recently. Was all set to post a poem entitled As Gods Go By in the last batch of A Safe Place To Land poems . . .. Well, this ode to Eros makes anything I've written on the subject of love making before seem like a pillow fight in a nunnery. Even my brother, a pretty worldly guy, was aghast. The day before it was to go up, we were selected as Family Site of the Week. by a very respected Web Organization. Could just picture the family gathered around the monitor at A Safe Place To Land & finding it not quite as safe as expected. I pulled As Gods Go by from the page [may sneak it in later] but it will stay in the finished book. Or will it? The chapter it's slotted for is (maybe was) entitled Love Is My Religion. Hmm? As To the "Elizabethan" 'tis' & 'ye' in Jho John Visits Chat Room Nine, the references might have been a bit too obscure. There's a wonderful old Scottish song by Robert Burns called "John Anderson, My Joe John" and I invoked it at the end of each stanza of the poem in an attempt to show the dichotomy of the impersonal chat room where Joes and Johns are plentiful and the solitary balladeer lamenting the loss of her one and only 'Jho John". Those stanzas were meant to be italicized, which might have helped, but somewhere between California where they were written and South Africa where they were posted the Italics disappeared. As for being sing-songy, are you sure you're not referring to some of the lyrics from my songs? Remember when you read a song lyric, you're only getting half of the story. Without the music I can't think of any song lyrics I've written that would stand up as poetry.

Q: [Continuation of Prof. Bennett's letter from Brel section] On a more personal note may I say I am a great admirer of your work, and as a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Liverpool (UK) I have several of your titles on my students reading list. If it is of any interest to you, my opinion is that in the future your poetry will be seen as standing for your generation. The problem was you were so unique you never had a movement so you were difficult to compartmentalize. But I see by your unpublished work that you are as sharp and observant as ever. Wonderful stuff, your voice has been quiet too long. Jim Bennett

A:    Thank you, Jim, I needed that. I think being a successful poet rankles a lot of people, especially other writers. Dick Cavett once introduced me as "Americas most understood poet". It was meant to be a dig, but I liked it. Poetry should communicate, or what's the point.

LOVE STORY  Janet Hasselman was 19, and loved your words, so I gave her three of your books for her birthday, November 4th, 1969. When we parted, a few months later, she hand wrote a copy of "I'll Never Be Alone", in her last letter to me. Twenty-six years later, she came back to me, and I showed her that poem, glued in one of my diaries. It was our common love of words, the right words, chosen and spoken at the right times, that made us fall in love, and stay in love for all those years, and it was that love, of words, that brought us back together, and married us, after almost three decades. We were very sad when we searched for you last year, and we couldn't find a trace of you. Barnes & Noble, in its corporate gigantic-ness, had never heard of you. Maybe I should have gone to "The Tattered Cover", in Denver. We love your words, and we will be back to this site many times. We are so happy that you came back to the world. William & Janet, Chapman Kansas
SURFS UP!  Q:  What has been the most interesting and genuinely moving thing that's come from surfing the web in recent months & particularly finding tara's Rod McKuen Message Board? Alex

A:     Easy. Discovering the experts on my work here in Webland. Not just knowledgeable people familiar with nearly every aspect of my career, but new friends. Friends I haven't met yet, true. But friends.

I mentioned Jay Hagan earlier. Janice, or as she prefers to be called "Ice Wine", must have a near archive of my poetry that she updates and changes on her web site.[we'll get around to talking about the copyright ramifications later, lady], It's always a pleasure to cruise her web site with its beautiful graphics and clear readable type. And she has the most eclectic collection of links to other really unusual sites I've ever seen. Hey, I just thought of something, when I want a particular poem for my Flight Plan, think how much faster I could get it into my Mac by asking Janice if she already has it archived & if so, could she send it to me. Wouldn't that speed up my laboriously slow two fingered typing? And I certainly couldn't pick or choose my own work better than she does. Talk about Chardonnay on ice when you need it!

Johan Grobbelaar has assembled a list of McKuen collectibles the likes of which I've never seen. Just looking at it makes me feel a lot better at having stayed at home the past dozen years doing little else but writing. If you want a list of your accomplishments [good & bad] don't do it yourself, assign the job to New Zealand's Mr. G. Johan posts something on the message board one day, Jay trumps him. Then there's a turn around and Jay makes a low bow to Johan. It's never competitive always graceful, like Kelly and Astaire.

Who did Ken turn to when he needed a typed copy of my 1968 tribute to Sinatra that appeared on A Man Alone? Melinda Smith, who seems to always be there for just about everybody. She E-mailed it to him in minutes, typed perfectly, not scanned. I know because it was my job to edit it and there was nothing to edit. I felt bad because of space constraint I had to change and double up on some of my line breaks, not because I was so in love with them as they were, but because Melinda had so carefully adhered to my original placement I felt I was betraying her.

The presumptions of Eric Yeager to put up a website devoted to my "stuff" and call it Listening To The Warm. Who is this guy anyway? Well, based on exchanges I've read between him and Waldo, he's a sweet, intelligent, warm, unassumingly talented and slightly Keourazy man. I love his website. It's short, to the point, well crafted and even interesting to me. And hey, it's only my life.. It has links to Andy Williams, Johnny Cash and A bio on Jacques Brel. He's scanned in color covers, song listings, credits and all the liner notes to two of my favorite albums. It has a bio and in a Where Is He Now segment, the article from People where I disclosed my battle with clinical depression.

And what more can I say about tara? The mysterious American lady who is about to make things legal with her Canadian friend, bon vivant and computer whiz, Bill? She has web sites all over the place, including an especially nice one devoted to a trip her mother took. Her McKuen Message Board has rallied my fans and friends when they had no place to go for information and seems to be even more successful now that there are alternatives. She is the soul of The Message Board, and aren't her other sites pretty and the type easy on the eyes.

There are others; Brad Johnson, Clark, Arthur Kent that I feel I know from reading their messages. And Clovis, who for his site dug up the most provocative McKuen quote I've read yet on the web. You will be hearing more from me about our own crew in Africa, Ken Blackie and Paul and Agnieszka Solomon. For now the hours seem long and the work is hard but all those mentioned have certainly made it easier

CLASSICAL WORKS 

 

 

Q:  It has been years.... I saw you one time in the wild turbulent years of my life - 1974, when you played the Macauley Theater in Louisville, Kentucky, premiering a concert piece with the Louisville Orchestra. All these years, I have wanted to thank you. I bought the recording of your concert in 1984 and recall that it came in the mail on a stormy day when I was sick and needed that little "safe place to land". I am glad you now have a web site and an e-mail address. I will not have to wait another 10 years to see or hear from/about you. Thanks again, Kathleen,Verona NJ.

A:    In the last few years I've had time to study orchestration and have written a few chamber pieces. Thanks for the interest, Kathleen.

Q: I was in Kentucky for the premiere of "The City" and the cantata for soprano and orchestra you composed to the text of Walt Whitman. I also attended the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Silver Jubilee Concert for the premiere of Ballad of Distances. Are these works available on CD? Kyle, Edmonton

A:    "The City" & I Hear America Singing were both issued on Lp (TLO LS-732) and may still be available in that format. As far as I know they have not been reissued on CD. You might check with Louisville Orchestra Limited Editions, a mail order company operated by the orchestra's business affairs dept. The Ballad of Distances, Op. 40 with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was released as a bonus CD with the 1973 Back To Carnegie Hall album (Warner Bros. 2WS 2731). There are no current plans to issue it on CD. Thanks for asking.

Q: Which of your classical works, if any, are available on CD? Norm, Paris

A:    In 1988 DCC released a CD titled Rod McKuen: ConcertoWorks (STZ-103) which contained my Concerto for Cello & Orchestra, Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra and Concerto for Balloon (Synthesizer) and Orchestra, all remastered from the original session tapes by Steve Hoffman. It's now out of print, but can sometimes be found through record searches online. There is a compilation of several of my shorter works called Music For Guardian Angels (LaserLight 12 473) that includes "Night", from "The City", Church Windows & several piano trios & quartets. It's available from all the larger record stores

SHEET MUSIC & SONG BOOKS  Q: Thank you for creating a place where fans like me can stop and wonder. This web page is wonderful! Strangely, it reminds me of when I used to buy your books at the drugstore (small town) and read them before I reached home (I walked). It's the same feeling: kind of cozy, yet exciting, too. Thanks for coming back and creating that feeling again. I have been trying to find sheet music of your works. When I inquired at the local music store, the lady who waited on me happened to be a Rod McKuen fan, too. Sadly, she said there was no sheet music available. Will any sheet music be available in the future? Now that I'm older and have a piano, I would love to have "I Think of You," "Kaleidoscope," "The Lovers," "Fly Me To The North," "The Single Man," etc. Cloud.

A:     I like the comparison of ASPTL and a local drug store a lot. This is a place for loitering and going easy, so take your time and browse all you want to. When I work out a new publishing agreement there will be song books aplenty. Next month we'll print the words and music to The Single Man and you can download it from here. Every so often we'll print out another that can be downloaded.

Q: (In response to an earlier request) Hey, just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I found my answer about "Heartbroken". Phil Springer DID write it, and after I sent him a nice letter, he sent me a copy of the sheet music! I know Phil from a show of his I was in several years ago. He's still performing at Mort's Deli near his home in Pacific Palisades. So now I have music from Rod's "Love Songs" CD for "Heartbroken", "When Your Lover Has Gone", "When I Fall In Love", and "Love's Been Good To Me", but I'm still interested in finding music for "As I Love My Own". Whatever help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I loved Rod's tribute to Frank Sinatra. It was truly heartfelt. Shauna

A:    And Shauna, this month's song to be posted later in July will be, "As I Love My Own."

OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOGS: 
GOD's PERFECT ANIMAL 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I have always held your sheepie Katie deep in my heart, as well as you're writing, reading it over and over again. How many sheepies have you had and are you presently owned by any? I have my own, Abigail Annie resting her nose on my sneaker toe as I type.....She was rescued from New Hampshire, after being chained outside for six years. She is the four footed love of my life....then there was Hollyberry, Patches, Abigail Wabbit, now AAI understand you may have at one time been a member of the OESC of New England...which I am not affiliated with.....I only do rescue. Janet.

Q: I was alerted to your site by a fellow OES-ring person. There are several hundred of us worldwide who have websites about our OES (I have 3) as well as a daily email wherein we discuss anything & everything about our large, fuzzy, beloved babies. Your pictures of yours are divine! Do you still have OES? Again, it's wonderful to have you back! Best wishes, Jenny (with OES Casey, Nikki & Lexy)

Q: I just wondered how you came to love sheepdogs and if you still have them....I had one named Quincy for years..They are a tough breed....but truly do own their human....I am so happy that you have come back to us...somehow I always knew that you would! I am curious about the reference to Waldo..on more that one occasion...and also...do you still have sheep dogs...I have one a beauty, because I always loved the pics that you had of yours....thanks again for coming back to us..You have no idea...how good it feels. Love Kathy

A:    There were far too many Old English Sheep Dog letters to print. All sweet, all containing the names of their 'Sheepies' most asking the same questions, so, here goes. Bob Shayne lead singer of The Kingston Trio gave my first OES, Katie, to me. My second was a present from George Marienthal owner of Mr. Kelly's in Chicago for breaking the house attendance record. He was promptly christened Mr. Kelly. He became pretty famous in his own right, often coming on stage for concerts and posing for album covers. He had a double in Great Britain who co-starred in my BBC TV series. Third & Fourth OES, Sir Arthur [named after Arthur Greenslade] & Old Boot [he got his moniker from a popular English comic strip] both came from England. OES are the friendliest, sloppiest, smartest, dumbest, best-dispositioned dogs in the world. Alas my sheep dog days are past. My cats would not be amused.

PS: Waldo is curious about the references to him too.

THE KING OF THE COWBOYS 
& "MOM" 

 

As we make ready to post these answers, many of us mourn the passing of part of our youth, the Good Guy In The White hat, who never chased Indians but always nailed the bad hombres in the black hats. Roy Rodgers has died. Happy Trails, Roy. Here are the lyrics to an old song of mine that all the movie matinees with you helped inspire.

Gone With The Cowboys

One day with any luck I'll be off again.
Gone With The Cowboys on the high roads and then
Bulldoggin' sunshine the way I should have been
All these years that I mistook for livin' settin' in.

I only hope too much time ain't gone by
I may not make Montana, but I'll give it a hell of a try.

Soon as the snow clears I'll be off again
Gone With The Cowboys playin' poker with the wind
Not thinkin' no more 'bout how it might have been
I'll be in there livin' with the cowboys again.
Gone With The Cowboys Again.

And, finally, I was up there on the big screen a few ions ago in a western called "Wild Heritage". I was part of a pioneer family moving west to homestead. Gary Gray & George Winslow played my brothers and my little sister was Gigi Perreau. Mom was the versatile actress Maureen O'Sullivan. Maureen has recently left us too. Bye Mom, you were the best.

That's about it for this time.
If I didn't get to your question I will.
Thanks again for your patience and sleep warm
                                -Rod
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