I was saddened to hear that Mary Travers died yesterday. As Mary in Peter, Paul and Mary (or PP&M as they usually get referred to), she enthralled a generation with her voice and her attitude.
I was six years old when I first heard Mary sing, and I’ve been hooked ever since, to her voice and to the sound of the band. In The Wind remains one of my all-time favourite albums, and PP&M one of my favourite groups, something I’ve written about here, here, here, here and here. Rocky Road has lifted my spirits on so many dark days when I was young. [Intriguingly, I can only get to the song samples via the US Amazon site, they’re nowhere to be seen on the UK site].
PP&M were an integral part of my childhood and youth, and continue to be an integral part of my life: they’ve influenced me in my attitude to life, my beliefs, my musical tastes, even my vocabulary. I think they’re way underappreciated for who and what they were: they were in Washington on the day of Martin Luther King’s incredible I Have a Dream speech, playing on that same stage. They had 3 albums in the top 10 the day that Kennedy was assassinated. They pretty much introduced the world at large to Bob Dylan, with three different Dylan songs on the album In The Wind. Two of those made the top 10. From Puff The Magic Dragon to Leaving on A Jet Plane (where they introduced John Denver to many of us) they enthralled a world in ways that folk groups rarely do, with their values shaping their music and their lives. A protest group from start to finish.
PP&M was a rare group, one where all members contributed. Mary didn’t just sing, she wrote as well; just do a Google check on “stookey okun travers” and you’ll see what I mean.
One of my favourite Mary Travers songs, poignantly, is Laura Nyro’s And When I Die (a song I will always associate with another seminal group and eponymous album, Blood, Sweat and Tears).
As and when you get the chance, do watch/listen to Mary singing it on the Mama Cass TV show, with Cass Elliott and Joni Mitchell watching. Or just visit YouTube and choose from a plethora of tracks. Because you can.
Mary Travers, thank you for all those sunshine moments in my life, listening to you sing. May you rest in peace.
…. And when [you] die/ there’ll be one child more/ in this world/ to carry on.
4 thoughts on “RIP Mary Travers 1936-2009”
Thanks, nice post.
thanks Stuart. We shall miss her.
My brother had the album where their names are written in chalk on a brick wall behind them, and I played that album a bazillion times.
The song about the young woman who dresses in a man’s uniform to join her beloved (I guess it would have been the Civil War?) used to slay me.
Very sad news today…
In 1965 Peter Paul & Mary came to town. That is, to Dunedin, New Zealand, where I was a student at university. I was a huge PP & M fan, and so with some fellow students, gatecrashed their town hall rehearsal to invite them to an after-show party at our place.
To my surprise, they accepted…and then showed up with their manager, Al Grossman (who also managed Bob Dylan in those days).
I was both star-struck and deeply in love with Mary Travers. I stood with her in front of the mantelpiece and we talked, just like old friends, till 2am. It was Bleeker Street in my own living room. It was like being at the centre of the know universe.
I was so smitten that I gave her my school scarf as a momento. Graciously, she accepted it, and it had never looked so glamorous as draped around her neck.
She was utterly charming and natural, and forty-four years later I am still moved by the memory of her voice and that dazzling smile.