117. Peter, Paul & Mary

Peter, Paul & Mary are a folk singing group from New York, New York. They were created by music entrepeneur Albert Grossman as a means of capitalizing on the folk music craze of the late fifties and early sixties. They were clean cut, talented and perhaps the most popular folk group of all time. My mother was very fond of them; they appealed to her peace loving sensibilities.

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Wikipedia Biography of Peter, Paul and Mary

Peter Yarrow (b. 1938), vocals, guitar
Paul Stookey (b. 1937), vocals, guitar, songwriter
Mary Travers (1936-2009), vocals

Their recorded music is a bit sterile, with a few very good songs and many solid but unspectacular recordings. That’s why it was such a pleasure to peruse YouTube and find live performances of such high quality. I’ve found three stunning performances to share:

I grew up with music of this type: simple acoustic instrumentation, comprehensible lyrics, often with a clear message. Here’s a fine rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain”, Lightfoot’s first hit song.

I like the sound of Peter and Paul’s dueling finger-style guitar playing.

The following paragraphs summarize the creation of Pete Seeger’s famous “If I Had A Hammer”. The website where this description was found is shown below:

Link To SongFacts About “If I Had A Hammer”

Folk music historian Gary Theroux explains the origin of this song:

“Pete Seeger and Lee Hays were founding members of People’s Songs, a music publishing company that specialized in tunes that supported various left wing causes – including hammer and sickle Communism. At it s first board of directors meeting, Seeger and Hayes staved off boredom by passing a sheet of paper back and forth, collaborating on the lyrics that became “If I Had A Hammer.” That Labor Day, at a show promoted in a Communist newspaper, Seeger debuted the song in concert (his co-star on the bill was Paul Robeson).

Impressed by the crowd reaction, Seeger and Hays then recorded “If I Had A Hammer” with their new group, The Weavers, as their first release on the tiny Charter Records label. (Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellermen rounded out the quartet.) It was a collector’s item, said Hayes. Nobody but collectors ever bought it. In 1952, the lyrics were revised a bit by a fellow radical activist, Libby Frank, who insisted on singing “my brothers and my sisters” instead of what Seeger and Hayes had written: “all of my brothers.” Hayes objected (“It doesn’t ripple off the tongue as well. How about ‘all of my siblings ?”) but finally agreed.

A decade later, the melody itself was rewritten – by Peter, Paul & Mary. Most people nowadays sing it as they heard it on Peter, Paul and Mary’s record, says Seeger. That version reached #10 in October 1962. A Latin-tinged interpretation, recorded live at PJs nightclub in Hollywood, became an even bigger hit (#3) for Trini Lopez the following September.”

Note: This appeared in the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can subscribe to at The60sshop@aol.com

— Gary Theroux

There are those who would dismiss this as socialistic propaganda; I see it as promoting unconditional love.

Peter, Paul and Mary Songs:

Early Morning Rain, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭✭
Jane, Jane, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭✭
I Dig Rock And Roll Music, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭✭
Early Morning Rain (Live), Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭✭
Leaving On A Jet Plane, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭✭

Lemon Tree, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
A’ Soalin’ (Live), Lemon Tree, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song), Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
Puff (The Magic Dragon), Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
Blowin’ In The Wind, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭
500 Miles, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭

Single Girl (Live), Peter, Paul & Mary
If I Had My Way (Live), Peter, Paul & Mary
Early In The Morning, Peter, Paul & Mary
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Peter, Paul & Mary ✭✭

Related Songs:

500 Miles, Hoyt Axton ✭✭✭
500 Miles, The Journey Men ✭✭
500 Miles, The Seldom Scene ✭✭

Lemon Tree, Trini Lopez ✭✭✭

This Land Is Your Land, Woody Guthrie ✭✭
This Land Is Your Land (Alt), Woody Guthrie ✭✭
This Land Is Your Land, The Kingston Trio ✭✭
This Land Is Your Land, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings ✭✭

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Bob Dylan ✭✭✭✭
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Alt), Bob Dylan ✭✭✭

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Chad Mitchell Trio ✭✭

Where Have All The Flowers Gone, The Kingston Trio ✭✭✭

If I Had A Hammer, Trini Lopez ✭✭✭

Blowin’ In The Wind, Bob Dylan ✭✭✭✭
Blowin’ In The Wind (Alt), Bob Dylan ✭✭
Blowin’ In The Wind, Stevie Wonder ✭✭

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane, John Denver ✭✭✭

Early Morning Rain, Gordon Lightfoot ✭✭
Early Morning Rain, Ian & Sylvia ✭✭✭

If I Had My Way I’d Tear The Building Down, Blind Willie Johnson

2 thoughts on “117. Peter, Paul & Mary

  1. Cheryl January 16, 2010 / 9:45 PM

    This is one of my favorite postings – the videos are just wonderful and it was great fun working on it with you. It was somewhat emotional for me when Mary Travers died last year. I remember seeing her live at the Greenwood Inn in Tigard years ago.

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