Still feelin’ the luck of the Irish from St. Patrick’s Day? In the late 1950s, we had our own Irish-American poet writing and performing poetry and songs in and about San Francisco. Oakland born Rod McKuen entertained audiences at the City’s Purple Onion nightclub along with Woody Allen, Phyllis Diller and the Smothers Brothers.
McKuen’s book of poetry based on his experiences in San Francisco, called “Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows,” was released in 1966. McKuen found a perfect collaborator in folk singer Glenn Yarbrough. Also in 1966, Yarbrough’s album,“The Lonely Things: The Love Songs of Rod McKuen,” included the song: “So Long San Francisco” –
Although McKuen’s poetry was criticized for being too sentimental and was not taken seriously by academics and poetry critics, he went on to sell 65,000 copies of the self-published “Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows” before it was acquired by a major publishing house. He continued to compose music and write lyrics for more than 1500 songs resulting in the sale of more than 100 million records.
In 1970, he received two Academy Award nominations. His song “Jean” from the film, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” was nominated along with the score he wrote for the animated film, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”
McKuen will be 81 years old on April 29. He lives in Los Angeles and his Web site (http://www.rodmckuen.com/index.htm ) lists performances until 2009. Here he is singing, “What a Wonderful World” –
Glenn Yarbrough turned 84 years old in January. His daughter, Holly, started a Facebook Page for him – https://www.facebook.com/SingerGlennYarbrough – where you can see current photos. Holly says he is living with her in Nashville and, “he would love to hear from his fans, because he is pretty bored.” I will send this post to him.