Rod McKuen: 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Pop Poet

Literary critics never had much love for Rod McKuen, who passed away on Jan. 30 at age 81 in Beverly Hills. Not that it mattered to his legions of fans. McKuen’s volumes of poetry, including Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows and Listen to the Warm, sold 60 million copies. In addition, McKuen was a prolific songwriter whose lyrics were interpreted by performers ranging from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Johnny Cash. His own gravelly, breathy recording of “Jean,” which he composed for …

Pete Seeger: Folk Music Legend, Political Activist

Pete Seeger, who passed away on Jan. 27 at age 94 in New York, accomplished the nearly unimaginable. He showed that one man, armed only with a banjo, a tenor singing voice and the courage of his convictions, not only could leave an indelible stamp upon popular music, but also challenge injustice and fight for a better world. Seeger helped popularize folk music, a genre derived from the traditional chants, hymns and laments of hardscrabble rural America, and wrote or …

Kris Kristofferson’s Coolest Concert Ever

Kris Kristofferson’s career as a singer-songwriter spans nearly 50 years, and his career as an actor nearly that, so it saddened me a little to learn that he’s struggling just a bit with memory loss. “I wish my memory weren’t so bad,” Kristofferson, 77, told Fox News on Nov. 4, following a screening of the indie film “The Motel Life,” in which he plays a used-car salesman. “They tell me it’s from all the football and boxing and the concussions …

The “Overweight Sensation” That Was Allan Sherman

I may be a goyische shiksa, but I know from Yiddish. That fact has flummoxed more than one Jewish friend in my life. “Where did you learn to say ‘Gotenyu’ [‘for God’s sake’]?” someone will ask. The simple answer: I learned it from one of my oldest friends and mentors – a self-professed “Brooklyn boy” whose ancestors fled Russian pogroms to make their fortunes in America. My Brooklyn friend was born in 1948 – two generations too late for shtetl-speak, but right on time for …