Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers, rest in peace

We heard the news this morning of the death last night of Mary Travers, age 72.

Mary's straight blond hair once inspired Nancy to iron hers straight. There must have been many young women in the late 60s who did the same: the much sought after Mary Travers look.

I doubt anyone in the English-speaking world got through the 60s without getting to know by heart some of the songs recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary: If I Had a Hammer, 500 Miles, Puff the Magic Dragon, Blowin' in the Wind, The Great Mandala, In the Early Morning Rain, Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Nancy and I spent lunchtime today listening to a best-of Peter, Paul and Mary CD. It brought tears to my eyes. There is an earnest innocence and deep purity in their voices that many these days would probably regard as naive.

I recall Peter and Paul visiting the office of the Catholic Peace Fellowship on 5 Beekman Street in Lower Manhattan back in 65 or 66 when Tom Cornell and I were CPF’s co-secretaries. Would that I could remember what we talked about -- probably our work to assist conscientious objectors.

Tom just sent me a note reminding me that they arrived in a red sports car which they parked on the street below (no doubt illegally, as in that part of town, half a block from City Hall, it was easier to find the Holy Grail than a legal parking place).

Then there was the evening when I went with a friend to see “Godspell” (it opened that night) at a small Off Broadway theater in Greenwich Village -- the part of New York where Mary Travers grew up -- and found that we were sitting just a few seats behind all three of them. We had a great time. Between acts the cast served wine to all who had turned out.

Songs and their singers can make a difference. We owe a debt to Mary Travers.


PS Take a moment and visit the Peter, Paul & Mary web site:


John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Growing up with the songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary and then finding their new songs have been sources of inspiration and encouragement. But I still can't get used to the hymn sung here in churches with the tune of Blowing in the Wind. But it's saving grace is that one line of the refrain is "sharing your bread with the poor." I think PPM would like that!

Steve Hayes said...

I don't remember them singing the Dylan songs, but I I remember Tramp on the street and We shall be released (did Dylan write those?), and of course Puff, and Stewball, and Lemon Tree.

But I realised I'm really a has been when I learnt of her death from a blog, and waited in vain for any mention of it on the TV news. Michal Jackson's death pushed everything else fof the news for three days, and effectively censored the voices of people protesting against alleged riggin g of the Iranian elections, yet I can't recall a single song of his.

Our generation invented the generation gap, and now we've crossed it, and are stranded on the other side.

Alex said...

PP&M sang Dylan songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind," "It Ain't Me, Babe," "The Times They are A'Changin'" and "Don't Think Twice" and also sang one called "Bob Dylan's Dream."