& 16th May, 2008
"Live in London"
now available on CD!
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Dos Vidas. Photo by Thomas Kist from the 2006 Arjan Vlakveld film “Rod
McKuen: A Man Alone” for Netherlands Public Television. Photo ©2006,
2007 by Stanyan Audio Video Archives. All Rights Reserved.
A Thought for Today
Be nice to somebody today who doesn't
expect it, it'll scare the hell out of them.
TO BEGIN WITH
It’s hard to believe that yesterday marked the 10th Anniversary of Frank
Sinatra’s passing; a world without ‘The Voice’ is unthinkable. And, as
long as his recordings sail out on the air and his movies unspool on
television and DVD Old Blue Eyes will never be absent from our universe.
With a new Frank Sinatra stamp just issued this seems like as good a
time as any to engage in some good old snail mail.
Here are some words that I wrote for the May 15, 1998 Flight Plan. Many
of them seem very apt for this anniversary week.
FRANK SINATRA: A Great, Good Man
I have lost an irreplaceable friend. The Great American Song has lost
the greatest lover and best practitioner it ever had. I truly loved
Frank Sinatra for his infinite generosity and enormous heart. To me
Sinatra the man, father, grandfather and friend eclipsed even his talent
as a gifted and natural actor and performer, and the most important,
successful and influential popular singer of the 20th Century.
The best American export has always been our music. For more than 50
years Frank Sinatra has made the songs of my country's best songwriters
into standards around the world. He has kept alive the works of Kern;
Gershwin; Porter; Rodgers, Hart & Hammerstein; Mercer; Cahn; Styne;
Berlin; Arlen; Loesser; Warren; McHugh; Schwartz & Dietz, and Ellington.
And he has propelled the careers of Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, Joe Reposo,
Jobim and very definitely my own.
Of course Sinatra lives and will always be alive because of his
recordings and films. His body of work is without doubt the most
comprehensive of any entertainer ever. That is a fact that cannot
possibly be challenged. Our great grief is eased by the legacy, the gift
to us all, of hundreds of documented performances on record, video and
film of one of Americas and the worlds great, great talents. It is hard
to imagine a world without him, of course it never will be.
In 1990 I wrote "It is rare, if it has ever happened before, that the
industry of a single man can tell us so much about our hopes and
aspirations; the dreams we dreamed, the things we wished for. . . and
the stuff out there that often eluded our grasp. All in the guise of a
song. Sinatra remains the patron saint of every popular singer who has
opened his mouth since he first opened his. He is the chairman of the
bored and disenfranchised of all ages."
Frank Sinatra fought fad and fancy, bucked trends by sticking to what he
knew and liked best. He survived his major producers, conductors and
contemporaries in the vocal field. Because of him The Great American
Song will not just survive, but prosper forever.
To his grandchildren, his children and his widow all of us send our love
and support and most especially our thanks for helping to keep Frank
Sinatra with us for so long. Great lives always seem brief, however long
they last. We can ill afford to loose our great explorers, pioneers and
inventors. Frank was all three. He invented phrasing and singing on the
vowels, he explored lyrics as no one ever did and he was the pioneer of
the concept album.
Frank Sinatra was and is a great, good man. Nothing more or less needs
saying about him.
-Rod McKuen, 15 May, 1998
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