Varese Vintage recently celebrated a singular career when the label released Reflections –The Greatest Songs of Rod McKuen. This definitive overview of McKuen’s work as a singer-songwriter features 24 of his most famous compositions including “If You Go Away,” “Jean,” “Seasons in the Sun,” “A Man Alone” and “Love’s Been Good to Me.” I was proud to pen the liner notes for this collection, and now, Varese and I would like to give you a chance to WIN THIS NEW RELEASE!
Though a self-professed loner who often wrote of isolation and solitude, McKuen had an extraordinary ability in music, poetry and prose to strike a chord with his audiences, to give simple and honestly-expressed voice to everyday emotions in a manner both accessible and eloquent. A prolific writer and recording artist since the late 1950s, McKuen’s songs blurred genre lines to attract artists ranging from The Kingston Trio, Jimmie Rodgers and Glenn Yarbrough to Petula Clark, Cyndi Lauper and Nina Simone. He gained the support and friendship of venerable songwriters from Johnny Mercer to Jacques Brel, and with the latter, crafted two of his most successful and enduring works, “Seasons in the Sun” and “If You Go Away.” Johnny Cash and Dusty Springfield were among the ardent fans who both recorded and worked with McKuen.
After recording his first “proper” album as a singer-songwriter for Capitol Records (said to have been his seventeenth album overall!), McKuen moved on to RCA Victor and then to Warner Bros. Records; concurrent with his Warner Bros. years, he formed his own Stanyan Records label to distribute additional recordings of his own as well as those of others. Reflections draws on McKuen’s masters for RCA, Warner and Stanyan, offering productions and arrangements from esteemed collaborators including Don Costa, Marty Paich, Arthur Greenslade, Eddie Karam and Mort Garson.
Reflections features Rod’s own, intimate renditions of a number of the songs immortalized by Frank Sinatra on A Man Alone, the Chairman’s album of McKuen songs and verse, as well as his renditions of his music for films including Joanna and Academy Award nominees The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Boy Named Charlie Brown. (Varese recently reissued McKuen’s Charlie Brownalbum on CD for the first time.) His recitation with music of his popular poem “A Cat Named Sloopy” is also among the selections.
At the height of his career, Rod McKuen placed nine albums on the Billboard Top LPs chart though he also sold untold thousands of discs via his ground-breaking mail-order operation and constant concert tours worldwide. Never content to rest on his considerable laurels, he hosted his own BBC-TV series, composed classical albums, wrote an original ballet and stage musical and expanded his business interests to greeting cards, calendars, a book of wedding vows, the Rod McKuen Casuals clothing line (benefiting animal-related charities) and other collectibles. He found time to champion causes in which he believed, including LGBT rights, and continued to write volumes of poetry and prose. When he departed Random House in 1972 for Simon and Schuster, it was reported that his books alone accounted for 34 percent of the publishing empire’s revenue. Though McKuen stepped away from the spotlight in the early 1980s, all but disappearing by his own admission, his contributions to pop culture continued to endure. Happily, he re-emerged in the mid-1990s and generated some well-received latter day performances and projects. Bridging the generation gap, McKuen saw Madonna sample his work, and earned the admiration of young musicians including Kurt Cobain.
Adjectives such as “unique” are all too frequently bandied about, but in truth, the career of Rod McKuen fits the bill. Reflections – The Greatest Songs of Rod McKuen revisits the musical side of his tremendous legacy, spotlighting the diversity of his music and words in his own, personal renditions. This release has been dedicated to the memory of McKuen, who passed away in January 2015 at the age of 81. He left behind some 1,500 songs and over 30 books, the total sales of which number around 65 million copies. A biography is currently in the works. Mike Milchner has remastered the 24 tracks on Reflections.
We would like Reflections to be YOURS! To enter to win ONE OF FIFTEEN COPIES, simply LIKE our Facebook page, and head over to Varese Sarabande’s FB page and do the same! Just leave us a comment on the ROD McKUEN post on our FB page. Let us know: What’s your favorite song of Rod’s? Do you have any memories of the late artist? Once you like both pages and comment anything you’d like to share about Rod, you’ll automatically be entered to win!
If you’ve entered our previous giveaways and have already liked BOTH The Second Disc and Varese’s Facebook page, you can still win: simply enter a comment on our thread to be entered! Only one entry per person. Remember, BOTH FB pages must be “LIKED” and a comment left on our page in order to win!
Don’t have Facebook? We’re not leaving you out in the cold! Just send an e-mail to theseconddisc AT gmail DOT com with the subject line “ROD McKUEN” plus your name and mailing address, and you’ll also be entered to win!
And one more thing! If you enter this giveaway and DON’T win, you will be AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED into our next Second Discmas giveaway, coming soon!
You’ve only got TODAY and TOMORROW to enter! The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on the evening of Tuesday, December 15, at which time 15 random winners will be selected. Contest open to all. Only one entry per person either via Facebook or email. All winners at sole discretion of The Second Disc. U.S. residents only, please. This contest is NOT affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook. Winner will be notified on Wednesday, December 16 via Facebook and The Second Disc, so remember to check back! Good luck!
Reflections makes an ideal introduction to the Rod McKuen songbook as well as an ample opportunity to rediscover a body of work that is both of its time and timeless. It’s available from Varese Vintage and can beordered at the links below!
- Love’s Been Good to Me
- The World I Used to Know
- If You Go Away
- I’ll Catch the Sun
- Rock Gently
- Listen to the Warm
- Ally, Ally Oxen Free
- I Think of You
- Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown
- As I Love My Own
- Lonesome Cities
- The Importance of the Rose
- A Man Alone
- Soldiers Who Want to Be Heroes
- A Cat Named Sloopy
- The Ivy That Clings to the Wall
- The Beautiful Strangers
- The Lovers
- The Single Man
- Seasons in the Sun