rod mckuen


A critic once told us you were the King of Kitsch; but as for me and a great many people, you were a talented poet, song writer, composer, and singer.

One of the best concerts I ever worked was your performance at the Minneapolis Auditorium. One of my favorite albums is your SOLD OUT AT CARNEGIE HALL.

Talk about a multi-talented man! In addition to your songs, you also received 2 Oscar nominations for your movie soundtracks, and a Pulitzer nomination for your ‘serious’ composition. You introduced us to, and translated for us, the works of Jacques Brel.

Sinatra was a critic. He thought so much of your work he devoted an entire album, Sinatra – A MAN ALONE: THE WORDS AND MUSIC OF MCKUEN, to your songs. He did a masterful job, and especially with your LOVE’S BEEN GOOD TO ME.

And another masterful version of that song was sung by Johnny Cash in his AMERICAN V CD. The CD which he titled A HUNDRED HIGHWAYS,  words taken from the lyrics of your song. The CD that Cash recorded when he knew that he didn’t have long to live. Knowing Cash’s backstory, I defy anyone to listen to that cut and not have a lump in his throat.

Terry Jacks sang your and Brel’s SEASONS IN THE SUN to number one in the pop charts in 1974. And your works have been recorded by a host of the best in so many genres of music.

Your own singing voice was raspy, but it was good enough to  have been the lead singer for Lionel Hampton’s band. You voiced-over assorted characters in THE LITTLE MERMAID movie with that voice. Your voice in your spoken word albums has made your poems familiar to so many.  And your voice was heard loud and clear in the fight against child molestation.

All this from a man who ran away from home and an abusive stepfather, at the age of 11. A man who made a living as a laborer, ranch hand, rodeo rider, stunt man, etc., and never failing to send money back home to his mother. A man with little formal education, but a great deal of talent and determination.

And now, it’s a wrap, Mr. McKuen. Thank you for your volumes of works and the hours of enjoyment that you left us. R.I.P.



12 thoughts on “R.I.P. ROD MCKEUN

  1. Thanks for your comment, which gave my conscience a slight twist… slow internet or not, i’ve not been visiting many other blogs recently and am sorely behind. i took a timeout this evening and checked into a little hostal until time to take the all-night bus to quito.. leaving soon and am so glad to see this.. wow, it is a very moving post that brought tears to my eyes.

    yes, i live in a unique paradise, but at the expense of not knowing what’s happening out there in the real world. so sorry he’s passed on, but so lucky to read your tribute. z

  2. Loved this tribute to a multi-talented artist who–while spurned by many critics–was loved and admired by many of the public!

  3. I had no idea that Mr. McKuen passed. My father introduced me to his poetry and music. I reread Come To Me In Silence at least a handful of times throughout any given year. My heart is breaking. This has turned out to be a very sad day indeed.

  4. How quickly time passes. I remember listening to his albums with a young spring girl over 50 years ago. I wonder if she learned of his passing and thought “Where does the time go?”

    • Indeed, where does time go? Isn’t it great how hearing or recalling a song brings back back so many memories? I feel sorry for the MTV generations. They hear an old song and their memories are of a video of the song instead of a memory of a ‘young spring girl’.

  5. Don, I am spending my Saturday morning revisiting some of your older posts. This one gave me chills as I love Rod McKeuen. I was sad when he passed but I will always have his words, his willingness to be vulnerable to love and loss, and the magic of that raspy voice. Thank you for posting this.

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