Bob Dylan’s voice certainly wasn’t for everyone’s taste. Fortunately for those music fans, the trio of Peter, Paul and Mary sang many of his songs. And they actually stayed on key and harmonized. They got short shrift among die-hard Dylan fans for popularizing his protest songs, but they definitely got many more tunes into the mainstream of popular culture than Dylan had.
In 1964 they toured many college campuses, and in that winter they performed at Lewis and Clark College, just five miles from our home. A good friend of my mother’s bought tickets for her three kids and our four and planned to take us. One of Oregon’s few snow storms hit just before and during the concert, but our neighbor was undeterred. Knowing that the concert would go on since it was at a college with a built in resident audience, she promised she would get us there. And she did. Fortunately it was downhill (literally) after the concert and going home was easy.
Having only seen them on television, I was delighted to see them in person. They sang “Blowing in the Wind,” “Lemon Tree,” and their delightful “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Comically enough, later writers would try to put “hidden” meaning into that last song, maintaining that it was about marijuana or about Viet Nam. I remain convinced that it was about a little boy and a dragon.
Soon many would discount Peter, Paul and Mary as being simplistic and naive. Harder edged music would take the stage in the years to come. Still, I have their tunes running through my mind at times, and I can still see Mary Travers shake her long blond hair over her shoulder.