Mary Travers, RIP

Peter, Paul & Mary were the gateway drug to the folk revival of the 1960s. With Mary Travers, who died yesterday at age 72, at the center of a trio that included Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, their version of "Blowin' In The Wind" was the first Bob Dylan song to became a hit. (The group was brought together by Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, and Dylan wrote the liner notes to their 1963 album, In The Wind.) "If I Had A Hammer," PP & M's cover of Pete Seeger and Lee Hay's protest song, became a anthem of the Civil Rights movement, and the trio sang it at the March on Washington in 1963. The key was the innocence: As the social upheaval of the 60s began on the heels of the McCarthy era, PP&M were clean cut upright citizens who made social protest music seem sweet, irresistible, and accessible to kids, even. "Puff, the Magic Dragon," may or may not have been a subversive song about smoking weed - Yarrow has always deneid that it was - but it sure sounded like a harmless children's song when sung by the two mild-mannered guitar strummers and the clear-voiced glamorous blonde beauty between them.  Below, those three songs, plus "Leaving On A Jet Plane," which was their only #1 hit in 1969, and was written by John Denver.  There are remembrances by Yarrow and Stookey here.

Previously: Free Flaming Lips