Artist of the Day: Mary Travers (11/9/36-9/16/09)

PPMIn case you missed the news (what, no Wacko-Jacko, CNN helicopter coverage?), I’m here to mourn the passing of Mary Travers, the long blonde, clear soprano and founding member of the vastly influential 60s folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. Mary died yesterday at age 72. A full story and obituary are on the New York Times website (click here). From my perspective, with her passing goes one of the biggest folk musicians of all time. Mary and her bandmates, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, defined the early 60s guitar-and-vocals folk scene. They epitomized the free-wheeling yet grounded pre-hippy Greenwich Village music scene. They brought Pete Seeger out of political ostracism with their 1962 cover of his “If I Had A Hammer.” With their 1963 reading of his “Blowin’ In The Wind”, they helped launch Bob Dylan’s career and thereby created a commercially successful base for dozens of other pure folk and upcoming folk-rock artists. And with their various versions of Yarrow’s “Puff (The Magic Dragon)”, they bridged folk and rock with children’s music and made it OK for serious adults to sing songs meant for toddlers. But most importantly, Mary and Peter and Paul were the first mainstream, commercially successful act of any genre to openly sing about social and political issues, and they did so almost unceasingly for the next 4 decades. For her poise, her voice, her beauty and her sensibility, Mary was always in the center of it all. Goodnight, Mary. We’ll always remember you. (A Peter, Paul & Mary playlist in the Playlist Vault on


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  1. #1 by Leslie Rowland on September 17, 2009 - 7:07 pm

    Losing contemporaries like Mary (sadly) reminds us of our own mortality. Thanks for the poetry and the memories Mary.

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