If we are going to teach the world to stop hating the different, the other, then we’re going to have to start with children.
Peter, Paul & Mary.
Mary Travers is that Mary, part of a group with a musical career that spans over forty years: an icon in the music world and in the civil rights movement. I was too young to appreciate that – sure, I heard the songs on the radio or when parents played the records, but I didn’t pay much attention, except to Puff*, that Magic Dragon. When Kristina was little, we picked up Peter, Paul & Mommy and PPM Too, and my love affair with PP&M began.
* This video performance of Puff was recorded live, after they’d been playing the song for 25 years. They were playing it as much for the parents who grew up on the song, as for their children in the audience. For a more original version, check out this video.
The albums includes Puff, of course, and many other child-friendly songs, but they also include a few of their more “political” releases. I put that in quotes, because it shouldn’t be political to speak of the importance of community and peace, or of compassion and respect for each other.
Folk music has always been tied to civil rights and social change. But that is not a relic from our past: if we are honest with ourselves, there is still much to do to achieve civil rights for EVERYONE.
PBS recently aired this special, Peter Paul & Mary: Carry It On: A Musical Legacy, with footage of concerts over the years, and interviews with the players and their community, including Richie Havens, Phil Ramone, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger.
Peter, Paul and Mary were there for the March on Washington in 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech. They sang Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind. Mary Travers recalls that she had an epiphany, standing there:
… looking out at this quarter of a million people, and I truly believed, at that moment, it was possible that human beings could join together to make a positive social change
yes. Yes. YES