Lost Classics! Peter, Paul & Mary

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Peter, Mary and Paul

REPOST: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary died Wednesday at the age of 72.  You can read an obituary here.  We thought we’d just retrieve this earlier post, with links intact.

If you can even imagine it, there was a time between Elvis Presley and the Beatles – and American music was confused indeed.  In 1959, Elvis went into the Army,  Buddy Holly died in an Iowa snowstorm and by that time Jerry Lee Lewis had virtually scandalized himself out of the music business.  Rock and roll’s moment seemed to have passed.

But folk music was still very big.  Groups like the Kingston Trio and the Weavers (with Pete Seeger) still managed to have hit records, and when Peter, Paul and Mary came out of the Greenwich Village scene in 1961 they had their sights set on the top of the pop charts.  Peter Yarrow, Noel “Paul” Stookey and Mary Travers cut their first album in 1962 and it featured mostly traditional folk standards and a Pete Seeger tune, “If I Had A Hammer,” which was a hit.   The next year they would hit again with “Blowin’ In The Wind,” written by the up-and-coming Bob Dylan.

Like many of the folk artists of the era, Peter, Paul and Mary championed social change and a number of liberal causes (“liberal” meant something totally different then than it does today) and their views sometimes showed in their music.  Probably because of this, some people looked warily at the trio’s music: “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” a harmless little story song that went to No. 2 in 1963, was condemned as being a coded reference to pot smoking by the “establishment,” specifically those tiresome jackasses who can’t shut up long enough to listen to the lyrics of a three-minute pop song.

PP&M recorded into the late 1960s, appearing often at public rallies (including the 1963 march on Washington) and putting out records.  “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” written by John Denver in 1967, was their only No. 1 hit.  In 1970 the trio broke up to pursue solo careers.

Yarrow made a dent in 1971 with his first solo LP, and the song “Weave Me The Sunshine,” the success of which may have actually been impeded by Yarrow’s endless TV appearances to promote it.  Travers, on her solo album, covered Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which would later become a hit for Roberta Flack (PP&M covered it first in 1965), and went back to the John Denver well for “Follow Me.”  Stookey was the most successful solo performer of the three, with his “Wedding Song,” a pop hit and a wedding favorite.

Peter, Paul and Mary reunited in 1978 for a protest concert and have been together pretty much ever since.  Travers has had a number of health problems (including a bout with leukemia) and Yarrow has had a few run-ins with the law, but these hammerin’-for-social-change folk singers still sound pretty good.

MP3: “If I Had A Hammer”

MP3:  “Puff, The Magic Dragon”

MP3: “Motherless Child”

MP3: “Blowin’ In The Wind”

MP3: “Wasn’t That A Time”

MP3: “Early Mornin’ Rain”

MP3: “Leaving On A Jet Plane”

MP3: “The Marvelous Toy”

MP3: “Weave Me The Sunshine” by Peter Yarrow

MP3: “Follow Me” by Mary Travers

MP3: “The Wedding Song” by Paul Stookey

MP3: “Give A Damn” by Paul Stookey

Peter, Paul and Mary official website

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