R.I.P. ROD MCKEUN
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.