Pop Life

Garage Sale Cowboy: Rod McKuen's The Sea

Today Rod McKuen, poet, composer, and sometime singer, turns 77 years old. Most people do not remember McKuen - at least nobody born after 1980 - but for one summer he was the strangest thing to come into Rocks Off's record collection, and remains one of our favorites.

It would have been the summer of 1998, and we got an allotment of garage sale records from our father one weekend. He picked up as much vinyl as he could get his hands on for a time, which did more to enrich our growing musical brain that he probably understands. The Doors, The Beatles, The Stones, and most every thing else that suburban families were parting with came into our hands.

Dude, we even got a copy of Public Image Ltd.'s Second Edition once.

In one batch came McKuen's 1967 album with Anita Kerr and the San Sebastian Strings, The Sea, along with ZZ Top's Tres Hombres, a shit-ton of disco and the eighth copy of the Grease soundtrack.

At the time we were making crudely edited mix tapes, using sound bites from television, and slowing down beats on disco records to imitate the DJ Screw cassettes we were getting from our mother, which is another story for another blog.

The Sea is a mix of ocean sounds, the voice of wistful and romantic narrator, those orchestral strings, and the unlisted din of swinging '60s love-making, which no doubt the album was recorded to soundtrack.

Ew, and awesome.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty