Barry Alfonso grew up in San Diego, California, where he began his career as a music journalist for publications like the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and Rolling Stone. He wrote songs for the films All the Right Moves (starring Tom Cruise) and Two of a Kind, as well as Pam Tillis’s number-one country hit, “In Between Dances.” He received a 2004 Grammy nomination for the liner notes to the Peter, Paul and Mary box set, Carry It On.
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.
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.
Because Rod McKuen was ubiquitous in the '60s and '70s, I thought I knew him and his work. It turns out that Rod's back story was full of surprises and Barry's book unravels the tragic history from Rod's own self-created myths. What emerges is a thoroughly researched and powerfully told biography of a most unusual and complicated character, one who deserves to be rediscovered.
McKuen's story is tragic and fascinating…A Voice of the Warm is a real page-turner.
[Rod McKuen’s] writings and music connected on a deeply personal level and his ideas still resonate today. Alfonso digs deep with research and interviews of those who knew McKuen best to provide the definitive biography of the important queer pioneer.
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.
In sewing together the tapestry of McKuen's life, Alfonso interviewed over a hundred people who worked with and knew the man. Sifting truth, often shadowed by McKuen's exaggeration of an already extraordinary life, the tale reveals twists and turns from military service in The Far East as a propaganda operative, '60s celebrity, wealth, gay rights activism, depression, a rediscovery through the internet and a tragically low-key passing in 2015. It's a tale rewarding and touching in its humanity and pathos and a fascinating read even for those not familiar with the music – but if it invites curiosity to dig deeper, all the better. You will not be disappointed.