Rod Mckuen

January 20, 2009

Rod Mckeun was a popular poet in the late-60s, early 70s.  I stress that his writing was really, really popular (or, rather, he was really popular)  so you remember it when you watch the poems below.  The poems are ridiculous.  He sold more poetry than all of the beats combined, by a landslide, which is also ridiculous.

He was a “popular poet” in that sort of syrupy, Oprah, best-seller way, like he’s obviously fulfilling some sort of generalized public fantasy of what poets should look like and what poetry should sound like.  He’s really fey, lots of turtle-necks and pensive lip biting.  (“Oh, pardon me while I get my notebook!”)  And his poetry is all about being moody and sad.  Pretty embarrassing stuff, to my palette, but kudos none the less to Rod (and I read this somewhere) for selling out stadiums for poetry reading.  WTF?

I looked these up on youtube, with the idea that I’d mock them.

(The one from the Johnny Cash Show is very good, but un-embedable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8p83ZmYZcs)

Cringe-worthy, certainly, but then I found this.

And it blew my mind.

And then I found out he worked with Jacques Brel, or I don’t know, maybe they didn’t work together—but I do know that Rod Mckeun translated “Ne Me Quitte Pas” into the English song “If You Go Away.”

He stole her dog!  Rod Mckeun stole Shirley Bassey’s dog and brought it out to the docks and video-ransomed her into singing this French song he translated.  Rod “The God” Mckeun, I take back all that trash I talked about you the other night when I was drunk.  Truly, you have redeemed yourself.

Lovingly, cordially,

Mrs. Rod Mckeun

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