I love quoting myself.
Not because I think my words are wise but because I can fast track a comment because I have already said what I want to say.
In relation to Rod I have said this before on this blog:
"Rod McKuen is an acquired taste. His detractors would say he is pretentiously poetic, maudlinly romantic, ponderously repetitious, slightly narcissistic, boringly middle aged, full of middlebrow banality and with a voice somewhere just below Bob Dylan on the dulcet tone scale. To me this is all true but how you take it depends on where you stand.
He certainly is poetic (and has published volumes of poetry to prove it), unashamedly romantic, thematically consistent, always world weary with an old mans (or a wise mans) attitude even when he was young, and with a voice that sounds as if it had lived".
Rod’s voice always gave Dylan’s a run for its money in tone and always lent towards a guy having a conversation with you rather than singing. Here (1975) his voice has gotten even deeper, huskier and more conversational.
That doesn’t matter much as Rod’s strengths are in his message, or rather, his observations and his message.
his observations and message have remained, as I have said, fairly consistent over the years.
that is over a lot of albums.
The observations and message have to be dressed up.
Once you are familiar with what he is saying an albums success depends on the tunes and instrumentation.
Rod in the mid-70s, from what I have heard thus far, is not his best period. It’s not bad but it doesn’t match his work from the 60s through to the early 70s.
There are quite a few covers here and Rod is quite happy to put his individual stamp on them. An this is impressive as h is covering the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and an iconic Goffin and King song.
Still, there is enough in here to sit down and drink your gin and tonic to.
And that’s what I like to do.
Sit down, have a drink and listen to Rod’s stories of love and loss.
The album produced by Rod McKuen and Wade Alexander and features wrecking Crew guitarist Billy Strange and Hungarian American lounge drum legend Tommy Vig on percussion.
Tracks (best in italics)
- It's Amazing – (Rod McKuen – Petula Clark) – Petula Clark – I'm not sure how they hooked up but there is more Petula than Rod here
- Since You Asked – (Judy Collins) – there is more Rod here despite it being a Judy Collins song.
- Here, There, And Everywhere – (Lennon-McCartney)- a great reading of the Lennon-McCartney song done as a torch ballad in the sweet wee hours
- I'm Almost There – (McKuen-Andre Popp) – perfect McKuen with some continental strings
- In Time – (McKuen-Peter Horton) – so so
- Goodbye: Prose-Poem – (McKuen) – McKuen the poet of romantic heartbreak, the poet of the lost love or broken love. With the tinkling, slightly baroque piano, It's pure corn but it would be total crap in someone else’s hands. McKuen can get away with it …and that's enough.
- Sleep Warm – (McKuen) – This is more like it. Music aside the lyrics really do sum up a love that transcends possession. I'm not sure if anyone is possible of this superhuman love but perhaps it’s something to aspire to?
I sleep easy, I sleep gently
Knowing you sleep warm
Knowing that you'll always be
Safe and free from harm
I sleep softly, I sleep soundly
Knowing you sleep warm
Even if your holding in somebody else's arms
- You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – (Stevie Wonder) – another good reading of a classic, this time by Stevie Wonder
- Miles To Go – (McKuen) – Pure McKuen – quite beautiful
- Eldon, 4 – (McKuen) – a poem
- Arianne – (Christian Roudey – Martin Charnin) – wonderfully excessive with equal parts of Jimmy Webb and “MacArthur’s Park” and any number of Jacques Brel songs which is not surprising given Rod was a friend of Brel.
- We Live On Islands – (McKuen – Hildegard Knef – Hans Hammerschmid) – Hildegard Knef is a German actress (also in quite a few American and British films) and a singer. Perhaps Rod knew here when she was in Hollywood (and Broadway) in the 50s. In any event they somehow managed to get together to collaborate on this. I wish Rod would write a biography. This song is quite sad, as the title indicates.
- And So Goodbye – (McKuen – Leo Ferre) – very schmaltzy but quite affecting.
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – (Carole King – Gerry Goffin) – the magnificent song originally done by The Shirelles in 1960 is slowed down and done as a trad ballad, and it works. This is a tremendous interpretation.
Where is my G&T?
And my swizzle stick.
…. I'm keeping this album.
Nothing, no where
Here, There, And Everywhere
a classic song and still relevant:
with Johnny Cash
- Wikipedia: “He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks, and classical music. He earned two Oscar nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his serious music compositions. McKuen's translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. His poetry dealt with themes of love, the natural world, and spirituality, and his thirty books of poetry sold millions of copies”.