A Voice of the Warm: The Life of Rod McKuen
By Barry Alfonso
In his 1960s-1970s heyday, Rod McKuen was a phenomenally popular singer-songwriter as well as the bestselling poet in publishing history. To his legions of fans around the world, he was a voice of compassion and healing, as much a prophet as an author/entertainer. McKuen songs like “If You Go Away” and “Jean” earned him massive hits, while books like Listen to the Warm sold millions of copies.
McKuen's huge sales and devoted following didn't stop the critics from calling his work sentimental kitsch cranked out for the money. Who was this enigmatic artist who aroused so much love and hatred? A Voice of the Warm: The Life of Rod McKuen is the first-ever biography of one of the 20th century's most popular and misunderstood pop-culture icons. Drawing upon extensive research and over 100 interviews, author Barry Alfonso tells how McKuen overcame childhood physical and sexual abuse to become a teenage radio host, film actor, and Beat-style poet before connecting with a vast audience as a writer and recording artist. McKuen's role as a pioneering gay rights activist who bridged the '60s generation gap with a message of love and tolerance help to make his story uniquely relevant today.
“Rod McKuen’s life and career were remarkable in many ways. His contributions to popular culture have been overlooked for too long. Strip away the accrued soil of judgment and misunderstanding and underneath you will find a pure and shiny patina. It’s time for a reintroduction to this beautiful stranger.” – Michael Feinstein
"’A Voice of the Warm’ is a comprehensive look at an artist I had never heard of, and one I now consider something of a friend, as did so many others in his lifetime. Alfonso brings great context and hindsight to this study of a star-studded and exciting life; one full of mistakes and missed opportunities as well as successes. Edge highly recommends this biography.” – Sam Cronin, Edge City News
“Alfonso chronicles [McKuen’s] rise to unprecedented fame with a clear eye, placing his works within the context of their era and exploring the valid notion of McKuen as a proto-self-empowerment/self-help guru… Rod McKuen might remain an enigma, but you’ll feel much closer to him thanks to Barry Alfonso’s exhaustively researched and compellingly written account of his singular life.” – Joe Marchese, The Second Disc
“McKuen’s story is tragic and fascinating…A Voice of the Warm is a real page-turner.” – Bill Kopp, Musoscribe.com