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RIP Mary Travers, of Peter Paul and...
September 16, 2009 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Mary Travers died today, at 72, of leukemia. According to the NY Times, she provided the sex appeal to Peter, Paul and Mary, which in turn provided mainstream production values for a number of Dylan songs. However, many remember her contributions to (the creepily titled but awesome) kids' record Peter Paul and Mommy. Peter and Paul have written tributes to her.
posted by chesty_a_arthur (129 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by box at 7:15 PM on September 16, 2009


A dragon lives forever, but not so little girls.
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posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:16 PM on September 16, 2009 [33 favorites]


Peter, Paul and .
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh hey I just wrote an obit too. Here's mine.

"Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey have reconfigured their arrangements to account for the absence of Mary's voice. The absence was profound. Two voices do not make a trio." Mary Travers, of Peter Paul and Mary fame has died at 72.

Mary Travers was the daughter of two Kentucky journalists who moved to Greenwich Village into an apartment building with Pete Seeger. She sang and recorded with Seeger in a band called the Song Swappers. Peter Paul and Mary were formed and debuted in 1961. Travers credits a bone marrow transpant in 2005 for extending her life another few years. The trio received a lifetime achievement award in 2006 after being together for 46 years (with a few off in between).

Other Links: Photos from the NY Times, rememberances from Peter and Paul (Noel), bio from the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, thousands of entries on her website guestbook,

YouTubes: Newport Folk Festival/Blowin in the Wind, If I had a Hammer, Leavin on a Jet Plane, Puff the Magic Dragon (humor), Puff the Magic Dragon ("straight")
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on September 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


I always loved her voice.
Fuck cancer.
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posted by Heretic at 7:20 PM on September 16, 2009


I didn't know their last names. Yarrow, Stookey and Travers just wouldn't have worked as well.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:21 PM on September 16, 2009


I've been pretty sangfroid through this latest round of celebrity deaths, but this one really nails me. Just this morning I was wondering how she was doing, and now I know. Damn.
posted by briank at 7:21 PM on September 16, 2009


Okay. You can stop now. I'm sad enough.
posted by nax at 7:22 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by ericb at 7:23 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by agatha_magatha at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2009


This is getting tougher and tougher each year.

Those of us that grew up during the 50's and 60's are dealing with the fact that our icons are getting older.... and coming to the realization that we are too... and this mortality isn't limited to the famous ones, we will contract that illness as well... the difference being that we won't get a metafilter post when we move on.

Peter, Paul, and Mary were the soft side of the revolution, bringing us the emotive aspect of the 60's. Back then we could settle in, put the lp on the turntable, unscrew a bottle of some cheap wine or light up a joint and get mellow..... we weren't worried about the war, or the revolution, or the pigs, or the other more troubling aspects of the era....

Thanks, Mary... you made our youth a softer place during some hard years....
posted by HuronBob at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


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posted by threetoed at 7:28 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 7:29 PM on September 16, 2009


This is how I remember her voice: There is a Ship. I'm sad.
posted by ericost at 7:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by evilcolonel at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2009


I saw Peter and Paul play at Wolf Trap outside DC last month. Bittersweet show, for sure.

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posted by pmbuko at 7:34 PM on September 16, 2009


And also: The First Time. And now I'm crying.
posted by ericost at 7:35 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


CNN: She died from side effects of treatment from a successful bone marrow transplant, publicist Heather Lylis said.

Awful.
posted by evilcolonel at 7:39 PM on September 16, 2009


Puff the Magic Dragon was my favorite song when I was a little kid. I remember it being performed on "Captain Kangaroo", illustrated with drawings of Puff and the little boy. I wish I could see that again.

Mary Travers had a glorious voice and I'm sad that it has been silenced forever.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:47 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My heart is broken. I love Peter Paul and Mary. When Mary was diagnosed with leukemia I wrote her a long letter via her website and their manager replied to say she'd printed it out and kept it. Their songs made me feel hopeful when I was depressed.

Rest in peace, dearest Mary.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:50 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Song For The Asking (ripped from vinyl!)
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on September 16, 2009


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what a voice. what a woman.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:51 PM on September 16, 2009


Oh, oops!

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posted by hippybear at 7:52 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by tyllwin at 7:53 PM on September 16, 2009


hippybear.... thanks for that...
posted by HuronBob at 7:53 PM on September 16, 2009


The Ballad of Spring Hill has always been my favorite PPM song.
posted by jessamyn at 8:01 PM on September 16, 2009


Well put, HuronBob.
posted by MotherTucker at 8:07 PM on September 16, 2009


Mary Travers' voice reminds me of my mom. She loved them, taught me to love them, and for me it's Travers' voice on "500 Miles" that never fails to make me cry.
posted by gladly at 8:09 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by cazoo at 8:11 PM on September 16, 2009


Oh, babe. I hate to go.
posted by SPrintF at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Peter, Paul and Mommy" was one of my favorite LPs as a kid. That and the Marlo Thomas classic "Free To Be, You And Me". Thank you, Mary, for the music, for the joy, and for the valued perspectives you introduced to a young mind.

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posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by Guy Smiley at 8:25 PM on September 16, 2009


This makes me so sad. Peter, Paul and Mary were my doorway to so many good things - Dylan, vocal harmony, the history of American folk music. I'm really going to miss her.

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posted by Knicke at 8:29 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mary Travers' voice reminds me of my mom. She loved them, taught me to love them, and for me it's Travers' voice on "500 Miles" that never fails to make me cry.

500 Miles is a favorite of mine, along with their cover of Don't Think Twice, It's Alright.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:31 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, damn.

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posted by rtha at 8:31 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by wendell at 8:35 PM on September 16, 2009


The years have gone by / so quickly it seems / now I have my own little boy / and yesterday I gave to him / my marvelous little toy. / His eyes nearly popped right out of his head / and he gave a squeal of glee / neither one of us knows just what it is / but he loves it just like me...

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posted by jferg at 8:41 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 8:51 PM on September 16, 2009


. for me

. for my parents.
posted by killy willy at 8:52 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Bron at 8:54 PM on September 16, 2009


Peter, Paul, and Mary were the ones that introduced me to harmony. My life, my experience of music, my existence will not be the same without her voice in it.
"In a world filled with sorrow and woe/ When I ask myself why this is so/ I really don't know...
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posted by sarahnade at 8:57 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by drhydro at 8:58 PM on September 16, 2009


aww, This is so sad. Good to weep in affectionate remembrance. Her songs were the soundtrack of my NYC childhood in the early and mid-60's, part of my being now. No doubt my DNA resonates with Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had a Hammer, Go Tell It On the Mountain, Puff, Lemon Tree, Go Tell It On the Mountain, all the first songs I was taught to play on the guitar by my wonderful, folkie guitar teacher, Mary Miner; songs of defiance, justice seeking, life lessons, anti-war in those social transition days.

Carry It On - Peter, Paul and Mary - Part 1, Part 2, 3, 4.

A beautifully impassioned Jesus Met A Woman.

Poignant comments by Peter and Paul today on Mary's website. When Peter says, "I have no idea what it will be like to have no Mary in my world" and Paul says, "i am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without mary travers" I want to tell them both that they will always have Mary in their lives. Just because a loved person dies doesn't mean they disappear. The loved person lives on in one's experience of life, just as if they were in another room, not in the same place but still present. There may be a last day but also a continuity.

There will always be Mary in my world.
posted by nickyskye at 9:05 PM on September 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


huronbob and gladly both have great points about why this death is so poignant. For me, it reminds me of my parents' mortality and that I will, sooner rather than later, be saying goodbye to them.
posted by killy willy at 9:06 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This has always been a favorite of mine. Would you like to learn to dance?
posted by polluxopera at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just found out, via a friend who posted the news along with the 500 Miles video posted above.

Peter Paul and Mary were on heavy rotation in our house since before I could even remember. We sang along with all the songs, not just on the kids' album either. Their music and her wonderful voice was a huge part of my childhood, as I'm sure it was for many of the children of the parents who grew up in the fifties and sixties.


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posted by louche mustachio at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2009


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My childhood is wallpapered with Peter, Paul and Mary songs. gladly isn't the only one reminded of their mom by that voice.
posted by Appropriate Username at 9:12 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:16 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by wemayfreeze at 9:22 PM on September 16, 2009


I'm surprised more Mefites haven't commented in this thread. I know--obituary posts are not popularity contests, but I would have bet that the death of Mary Travers would hit this community much harder than it seems to have.

At any rate:

For Peter: .
For Paul: .
For Mary: .

For my youth: .
posted by tzikeh at 9:44 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by maxwelton at 9:47 PM on September 16, 2009


Also: ♥
posted by maxwelton at 9:48 PM on September 16, 2009


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I knew her last name, but only discovered Peter, Paul and Mary last year; For me, "Mary Travers" refers first to La Bolduc, another singer who died of cancer, but in 1941.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:48 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by susanbeeswax at 10:01 PM on September 16, 2009


I grew up with the group's records floating around the house. When my parents purged all their records, they didn't replace a lot of them when cds and tapes took over. As a result, it was only recently that I rediscovered the voice that sang not only the classic children's (and pot smoker's) song "Puff (the Magic Dragon)" but also "If I Had a Hammer" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

It was "Leaving on a Jet Plane" that I sang to myself as I wept on the flight that I took to live in Europe a few years back. It was "If I Had a Hammer" and "Blowin' in the Wind" that I sang throughout this long, long election season. And I am sure that there are many more Peter, Paul, and Mary songs that I will sing in the years ahead as I rediscover them in the perfect moment to resonate with an important event going on around me.

It saddens me to know that Mary, whose voice is such an integral part of it, will not be with us anymore.
posted by librarylis at 10:16 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


re: the druggie interp of "Puff" --
The lyrics for "Puff, the Magic Dragon" were based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton, a nineteen-year-old Cornell student. Lipton was inspired by an Ogden Nash poem titled "Custard the Dragon," about a "realio, trulio little pet dragon." Lipton passed his poem on to friend and fellow Cornell student Peter Yarrow, who created music and more lyrics to make the poem into the song.

After the song's initial success, speculation arose that the song contained veiled references to smoking marijuana.... The authors of the song have repeatedly rejected this urban legend and have strongly and consistently denied that they intended any references to drug use. Peter Yarrow has frequently explained that "Puff" is about the hardships of growing older and has no relationship to drug-taking. He has also said of the song that it "never had any meaning other than the obvious one". On one occasion, during a live performance, Yarrow mocked the drug-related interpretations by reciting his own tongue-in-cheek drug-related reinterpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner", and ended by saying, "...You can wreck anything with that kind of idiotic analysis."
I saw a concert about eighteen years ago, during which Peter vocally riffed over the opening Travis-style fingering about the misconception of the meaning of the song, singing that it was about the loss of innocence, and nothing more, then led into the first chorus with "you can tell 'em that you heard it from the Puff's dad."

So, let's give that story a "." too.
posted by tzikeh at 10:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 10:34 PM on September 16, 2009


I too grew up with PP&M's songs playing in the background: my older sisters had most all of their records. Her voice was a familiar one. I was never a fan, personally, but it's sad of course, nonetheless, to see her go at such a relatively young age, to that awful leukemia. RIP, Mary.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:52 PM on September 16, 2009


ah, damn.

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posted by faineant at 10:54 PM on September 16, 2009


This has been one of the saddest weeks ever for me.

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posted by ninazer0 at 11:10 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by humanfont at 11:11 PM on September 16, 2009


I too grew up with PP&M's songs playing in the background: my older sisters had most all of their records. Her voice was a familiar one. I was never a fan.

I was never a fan either, but I grew up hearing their songs played on Children's Favourites almost every week.

I'm completely baffled as to why I feel such an awful sense of loss.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:19 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn, damn, damn.

I'm not much of a concert-goer, but I think about the first one I went to, sometime in my twenties, was to see Peter Paul and Mary. And I just loved it.

Damn.

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posted by orthogonality at 11:22 PM on September 16, 2009


And when I die -
There'll be one child born,
And the world will carry on.

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posted by salishsea at 11:39 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Aw man - I too grew up listening to Peter Paul and Mary. My dad was a big fan - he's going to be so sad about this...
posted by smartyboots at 11:43 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by omnidrew at 11:45 PM on September 16, 2009


Puff the Magic Dragon was a regular on the Dick Weir show of morning childrens' radio when I was growing up in New Zealand. Along with Peter and the Wolf, Ernie, Morningtown, it was a part of being six.

Very sad indeed.
posted by rodgerd at 11:48 PM on September 16, 2009


I think Peter, Paul and Mary's rendition of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was the first song to break my heart and I couldn't have been more than six or seven.

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posted by OneOliveShort at 12:12 AM on September 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and rodgerd, my mother used to sing "Puff..." to me as a kid and I now own the 1967 Yamaha classical that she used. She's still with us and it took me YEARS to get it from her on permanent loan... I mostly use it to play "From the Beginning" by ELP... it's a beautiful guitar.
posted by OneOliveShort at 12:28 AM on September 17, 2009


:-(
posted by mosk at 1:36 AM on September 17, 2009


aww...

We listened to Peter, Paul and Mary's Christmas CD every year while we decorated the tree, growing up. Weirdly, I never listened to any of their other songs, despite being a folkie. So, I will have to change that.

And . for the woman who made my Christmas soundtrack.
posted by kalimac at 3:01 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Faint of Butt at 3:29 AM on September 17, 2009


My parents raised me with their music and took me to see Peter, Paul, and Mary when I was 5 or 6. I haven't forgotten that show, and when I started buying my own music, PP&M joined my collection. I still look for good harmony before anything else.

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posted by hydropsyche at 3:32 AM on September 17, 2009


As a child, I didn't realize that folk music wasn't really cool anymore (this was the 80s) and my aging-hippy relations used to take me to Peter, Paul and Mary concerts and I thought they were just wonderful.

I don't think I would have identified so much with so many of their songs if it weren't for a woman's voice among them. Now I've mostly moved on to Ani Difranco and Dar Williams and the like, but these songs are still my comfort.

When I was seventeen, my best friend was the northern star, the others asked why I was always dreaming...
posted by larkspur at 4:33 AM on September 17, 2009


I had the biggest crush on her. Her voice never failed to give me goosebumps.

RIP.
posted by elmono at 4:56 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:05 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by contrariwise at 5:08 AM on September 17, 2009



posted by Smart Dalek at 5:21 AM on September 17, 2009


Growing up, our local PBS station would always air a PP&M concert during their annual pledge drives. I watched it faithfully, with yearning, that someday I'd be one of those people singing along in the audience. As I grew into my teens, I still maintained that someday I'd see them live, to the mockery of almost every single boy I dated. I swore then that the man I would marry would be the kind of man who would take me to see them live.

Years later I moved across several states to NYC to live with my now husband, and he had found out that they were giving a free concert outside of FAO Schwartz. To see almost all traffic (both food and auto) when they launched into "Puff the Magic Dragon" was one of the most magical moments I've ever seen - something out of a movie. That moment touched everyone within hearing distance.

We saw them at a local ampitheater a few years ago, an outdoor one unfortunately near railroad tracks. It became a running joke that every time a train went past, they'd stop the song they were performing and sing one about trains. I've seen a lot of shows in my time, but that was perhaps the most charismatic and interactive one in my life. Finally, I was one of those delighted people in the audience.

It feels like a part of my childhood has died. But thank you Mary, for the magic, for the inspiration. We're worse off without you today. (And now I need to go cry.)
posted by librarianamy at 5:23 AM on September 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gah! (both food and auto)

FOOT and auto. *sigh*
posted by librarianamy at 5:24 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by headspace at 5:51 AM on September 17, 2009


Man, the death train's been full lately.

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posted by jquinby at 6:17 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Think_Long at 6:54 AM on September 17, 2009


This is real sad news. I will miss her.

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posted by RussHy at 6:57 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by schyler523 at 7:10 AM on September 17, 2009


I’ve found a song let me sing it with you
Let me say it now while the meaning is new
But wouldn’t it be good if we could say it together!
Don’t be afraid to sing me your mind
Sing about the joy that I know we can find.
Wind them around and see what they sound like together.
The song is love, the song is love,
The song is love, the song is love.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:11 AM on September 17, 2009


They helped name my dog.
posted by schyler523 at 7:12 AM on September 17, 2009


I grew up listening to PPM on the radio and at home, and I still have all the early albums, some left behind by my older siblings, some from used record stores, probably even a few bought new; that vinyl has made the cut in every move. Their music informed my taste; I love harmony and good vocals. It really influenced my politics; Peter, Paul and Mary were active supporters of the civil rights movement, the peace movement, civil liberties, the United Farm Workers, and many, many more causes. Mary, in concert, was engaging and her voice was just beautiful with a slightly smoky quality and a big range. She was truly a musician.

For me, this is a marker for the closing out of a generation. PPM are a bright star in a generation that brought forward great changes.

This makes me really sad and nostalgic, and appreciative. Thanks for the posts of songs and clips.

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posted by theora55 at 7:14 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


A good friend has played with PPM for years and years, so this is especially sad.


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posted by ob at 7:16 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by ikahime at 7:19 AM on September 17, 2009


I have this image of Mary Travers ascending into Heaven -- and the angels asking *her* to sing.
posted by RavinDave at 7:21 AM on September 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by collocation at 7:28 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by lunit at 7:37 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by ameliajayne at 7:37 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:45 AM on September 17, 2009


A-Soaling
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on September 17, 2009


Puff The Magic Dragon was one of my first 45s. RIP, Mary.
posted by fixedgear at 8:09 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by fook at 8:11 AM on September 17, 2009


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(In the future could you not make me cry at work ethnomethodologist )
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The news didn't mean a lot to me, until I realized they did Puff. I don't usually get broken up over celebrity deaths. But this hits too much at the root of my being, more than I would have guessed.

I bunch more magic has left the earth.

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posted by Goofyy at 8:17 AM on September 17, 2009


I thought about it some more.

Mary made way more magic than she could ever take away.

But I still feel like a little kid that had his teddybear taken away.
posted by Goofyy at 8:39 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another one here who's missing the soundtrack of childhood. Thank you, Mary.

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posted by chihiro at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Quietgal at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Ber at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2009


fucking cancer - fuck leukemia, especially.
posted by pinky at 9:32 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by tommasz at 10:03 AM on September 17, 2009


Peter, Paul, and Mary were the soundtrack of my childhood: first all the records my mom had, and then the "No Easy Walk to Freedom" tape in the car all the time. When I think of Mary, the first thing I think of is her beautiful version of "I'd Rather Be In Love" on that album.
posted by epj at 10:09 AM on September 17, 2009


Like so many above, P,P&M birthed my lifelong love of vocal harmony and was an important part of my childhood, I having pinched their records out of my parents' collection, and later a source of wonderful accessible songs for a beginning guitar player.

Their songs were also integral to the life-changing summer camp above the Shenandoah Valley that I went to for six summers. It seemed like everybody there already knew those songs. I think a lot of us had those records or had already been to a PPM show or two at Wolf Trap.

We had a tradition at St. George's in which each camper, on the first day, had a piece of cord tied around his or her wrist, called a "body string." The camp was ostensibly Episcopalian, though it was run, mostly, by a cadre of hippie-inclined college students - a lot of hug tag and "new games" in addition to the usual capture the flag.

Anyhow, these cords represented that we were each a part of the Body of Christ mentioned in I Corinthians 12:12-27. That passage - about all humans having unique gifts, all being equal, how each of us is hurt if another suffers - was the basis of a camp that was a lot more about social justice, service, activism, and the true value of diversity than what you might think of as "Bible camp."

When the staff felt that the camp had made significant progress toward becoming more like the Body of Christ as reflected in that passage, one evening we would all take the strings from our wrists and tie them into one long chain, with the ends open to indicate that all are welcome into the Body. Each member of camp would then get a chance, over the next few days, to wear the massed strings around his or her neck, and on the last day of camp, each of us would have one of the strings once again tied around our wrist as we left camp to go back into the world, as a reminder to carry those lessons with us.

Eighteen years after my last summer there, I still sing "Jet Plane" with the little modification we gave it at St. George's:

Every place I go, I'll think of you/Every song I sing, I'll sing for you/When I come back, I'll wear your body string

It's not the way John Denver wrote it or Peter, Paul & Mary sang, it, but I think Mary especially would have appreciated the sentiment just the same.

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posted by jocelmeow at 10:11 AM on September 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just loved her. She seemed like my image of the perfect mother whenever I saw her on TV--warm, wise, gentle, funny, and with an amazing voice. She was one of the few female celebrities of my childhood who didn't present herself as a sex kitten or a battleax; she was this strong, kind, powerfully feminine presence who radiated goodwill.

Already miss her.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Several years ago I attended a Schooner Fare concert after cancer claimed the life of another folky, Tom Rowe. What was interesting is that, no matter what they sang, I continued to hear Tom's voice.

I feel that I'll do the same when I hear Peter and Paul sing a favorite. My mind will automatically insert Mary's voice, just as if she were there.

You might be missed, Mary, but I think you'll always be heard.


posted by Man with Lantern at 11:06 AM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Peter, Paul & Mary not what I listen to now when I listen to American folk music - it's a little bland and gleefully optimistic for my taste. But for my parents' generation, living in Titoist Yugoslavia, this very same blandness and safeness meant that their records were available for anyone to buy. And people did buy them, they read between the lines to uncover the song meanings and pieces of hope that easily skated by the censors. That same generation demanded and received meaningful changes, in part due to the spirit and influences of musicians like PP&M. So in my country at least, they made a bigger difference than much more politically strident and rhetorically "revolutionary" musicians who were never allowed to be heard. It takes all kinds, and that's a perfect example of why.

There's not much justice in the way people die, and this is a perfect example of that, too.

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posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not taking away anything that you just said, Dee Xtrovert...

But "gleefully optimistic" is really not a phrase I would have ever applied to most of the PP&M catalog that I own. For some reason, there is a melancholy which hangs over their music for me, even the most upbeat tunes really have a twist at the end or a dark undercurrent to the lyrics.

Just my own feeling about it. I find it interesting you hear it another way. Brains are like that!
posted by hippybear at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


PPM played on my ipod during this morning's run and the beauty of Mary's voice struck me as a perfect accompaniment to the dawn. My husband informed me that she passed when I got in, her voice still coming through the headphones. It was surreal.

A favorite childhood memory is going to see them in concert (my very first concert) and singing along with them on Puff. I had hoped to take my daughter to hear them perform, but never got the chance. RIP Mary Travers.
posted by tidecat at 11:17 AM on September 17, 2009


it's a little bland and gleefully optimistic for my taste

PP&M sang some pretty angry stuff about nuclear energy and American foreign policy. Particularly about our Central American policy. It just didn't get airplay. And, well... it wasn't all that good.

But they did pave the way for Billy Bragg and later so-called "edgier" types.

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posted by tkchrist at 11:25 AM on September 17, 2009


I never know what to write in these threads, so usually end up putting in a lame ".". so forgive a few randoms thoughts...

I'm not quite old enough to be a "hippie", so maybe couldn't appreciate PPM as much as I should. But I love their music - theirs, or whether they were covering other artists, or other artists covering them. And Puff, 500 Miles, Stewball all bring a tear to my eye.

So sad...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Lynsey at 11:55 AM on September 17, 2009


But "gleefully optimistic" is really not a phrase I would have ever applied to most of the PP&M catalog that I own. For some reason, there is a melancholy which hangs over their music for me, even the most upbeat tunes really have a twist at the end or a dark undercurrent to the lyrics.

That's a fair comment, and I guess what I really meant was that there was something in their collective persona that came off as upbeat and optimistic, and I didn't much care for that, as well as some of their attempts to widen their appeal - "Puff The Magic Dragon, for instance. It's not a dismissal, they were capable of great moments. But they didn't force you to take them as seriously as (say) some Dylan or Fred Neil or Karen Dalton or a lot of the more traditional folk, and I suspect that's why they're no one near as remembered as their past fame would have one imagine. And, as tkchrist says, a lot of their more serious stuff wasn't that great (although they had contemporaries much more analogous to Billy Bragg, such as Phil Ochs.) But I don't doubt their sincerity for a second, and as I said, in their way, they made a difference. More importantly today, Mary Travers seemed like a sweetheart and I'm sorry to see her go.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by artsygeek at 12:43 PM on September 17, 2009


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 2:00 PM on September 17, 2009


I saw a concert about eighteen years ago, during which Peter vocally riffed over the opening Travis-style fingering about the misconception of the meaning of the song, singing that it was about the loss of innocence, and nothing more, then led into the first chorus with "you can tell 'em that you heard it from the Puff's dad."

Although the video was already linked in this thread, I'd like to point out for those who missed it that their performance of "Puff the Magic Dragon" from their 25th Anniversary Concert in 1986 (hard to believe their 25th anniversary concert was 23 years ago!) includes a similar prologue and is well worth listening to.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:48 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I linked to that!
posted by jessamyn at 3:53 PM on September 17, 2009


I don't know when I'll be back again.

Hold me like you'll never let me go.


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posted by jabberjaw at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2009


> I'm completely baffled as to why I feel such an awful sense of loss.
> posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:19 AM on September 17 [1 favorite +] [!]

MÁRGARÉT, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

(I see I already posted this to mefi back in 2001. Hope it's not too soon for a rerun.)
posted by jfuller at 4:36 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by brandz at 6:38 PM on September 17, 2009


Well I've got a hammer,
And I've got a bell,
And [thanks to Peter Paul and Mary] I've got a song to sing
All over this land.
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2009


A thoughtful remembrance of Mary in the New Yorker.
posted by nickyskye at 4:02 AM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not good, not good at all. It seems to me that a lot of people are dying recently.
posted by luckycharmz336 at 7:42 AM on September 18, 2009


My memory of Mary Travers has to do with a PBS pledge drive as well.

Peter Yarrow was in town to appear during breaks of the PP&M special that KERA was airing. I was there as a phone volunteer for Doctor Who, which aired afterward, so our group was hanging out in the green room watching the special... when in walks Mary Travers...

Turns out she happened to be in town and was tuning around and caught a pledge break with Peter Yarrow live in studio, so she came down to the studio as a surprise for Peter. Much reminiscing occurred on-air in the remaining breaks.

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posted by Gridlock Joe at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by kuatto at 9:26 AM on October 5, 2009


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