Wednesday 14th April, 2010
A Thought for Today
Some voice inaudible to man speaks to the
month of April, and so we have pink blossoms everywhere.
One Does It For Me!
Mr. McKuen is a recent discovery for me and I've been surprised at the
depth of his creative endeavors.
I was further surprised to hear he'd recorded one of my most favorite
songs, "Time After Time."
What album did this song appear on and did he compose it?
"Time After Time" appeared
on Rod's album "Alone After Dark," Alexandra. And no, he didn't compose
It was written by that
incomparable team of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne and in my book it's the
"standard of all standards." Originally recorded by Rod's friend and
colleague Frank Sinatra way back in the 40's it's been covered by
hundreds of recording artists but I think Rod's version is something
You'll find the lyrics below
along with the liner notes from the album.
Alone After Dark
There are many kinds of loneliness; but none can be more meaningful than
being by yourself when the lights go out.
A clock ticks somewhere, a car goes by outside, the wind runs back and
forth outside the window... and the only things that keep you company
are the memories of times when you were not so alone.
Rod McKuen has chosen songs of night and early morning loneliness as a
basis for this album, and in a way the whole of this recording
represents the whole of Rod. At twenty five he is a man who has lived
with love and without. Blonde and blue-eyed, he can look as moody as a
modern Hamlet or in an instant smash the spell with a smile. He is
contradictory and complex - a romantic realist, an unbeat beatnick who
somehow seems happy when he is sad. The world he sings of is real, yet
part of a practical fantasy. The combination of these characteristics
account for the excitement he generates as a performer.
You will find that familiar standards, such as Imagination and Time
After Time take on a new connotation when Rod interprets the lyrics, and
relatively unknown songs such as I Walk a Little Faster and the
plaintive Ballad of the Sad Young Men seem to say exactly what you are
We live in a world of sad young men, searching, looking for something to
hold on to. A mechanized world, where emotional outlets are few, and
music is one of the few things left that offer free expression for the
emotions. Rod McKuen’s songs and singing have somehow always been
directed to the lonely, even when the lyric is a happy one or the tempo
And Rod’s career has taken many turns. In the Army he was a
psychological warfare writer whose scripts were beamed behind the Iron
and Bamboo curtains. He has been a night club entertainer, a reader of
poetry to jazz accompaniment in the beatnick cellars of his birthplace,
San Francisco. His musical compositions range from film and television
scores to popular hit songs and he is the author of several books. His
acting credits include a contract with Universal - International
pictures, where he starred in several films, and appearances on many
dramatic and variety television shows.
This album marks yet another departure for Rod. Till now his recording
activities have centered on several albums of folk songs and readings
for his own works. Here, he tackles the more sophisticated lyrics of big
city loneliness, including five original songs written by Rod especially
for this album, April People, Till My Ship Comes In, Why Does the
Feeling Go Away, Very Warm and the title song Alone After Dark. The
effect is “very warm” indeed.
“These are the kind of songs I like to sing when I work in a night
club”, says Rod. “A song is as personal as a necktie or a love affair,
and it’s got to mean something special to me before I sing it... and if
the listener isn’t aware of that, then a singer might just as well
confine his efforts to the shower. I liked making this album, because it
gave me a chance to work with some of New York’s top-flight musicians...
particularly Jack Pleis, Gloria Regney, Ellis Larkins and the wonderful
soprano Miriam Workman. The only problem was making an album of this
kind is selecting the songs, there are so many to choose from”.
Till the early hours then, when the daylight comes back to greet you Rod
McKuen’s Alone After Dark.
- Martin Cohen
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