Peter Paul and Mary: Fifty Years in Music and Life
Peter Yarrow, Noel (Paul) Stookey, and Mary Travers, co-authors
Peter, Paul and Mary became famous for their ability to convey powerful personal and political messages through a repertoire of songs that resonated with millions of Americans in the 1960s. Their debut album, released in 1962, remained in the Top 10 for ten months, and the Top 20 for two years. Their first hit single, "Lemon Tree" was swiftly followed by "If I Had a Hammer," which became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement and was performed by the trio at the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Their classic song, "Puff, The Magic Dragon," has been a favorite of children for almost fifty years, and the book version was a number one bestseller. Over a span of more than fifty years, Peter, Paul and Mary touched the lives and hearts of tens of millions of people, won five Grammy Awards, produced thirteen Top 40 hits, and received eight gold and five platinum albums.
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Musicians Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey gather here their thoughts and memories with the words and interviews of the late Mary Travers (1936–2009). The story of this prolific musical trio is told through photographs capturing moments of solitude as well as those shared with audiences in their many activist causes, including well-known performances for President John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and many others. Written as a personal reflection, this title shows the love and respect the trio shared for one another. The group's role as advocates for peace and justice is well represented by the chosen images, documents, and corresponding personal insights. VERDICT This well-executed book covers the history of folk musicians Peter, Paul, and Mary from the group's inception more than 50 years ago. The musicians successfully present the reflections and perspectives of the moments they have shared with their characteristic approach, through one powerful voice.
As you well know by now, Peter, Paul and (and the late, great) Mary are celebrating their golden anniversary. Among the many projects centered around the group is Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years of Music and Life, an autobiographical, intimate account of their five-decade journey told through gorgeous, rare photographs.
The coffee-table-sized book is credited to the three members and includes an insight into landmark moments not only in the group’s history, but also the civil rights movement of the ’60s, environmental causes of the ’70s, and spotlights their continued activism into the ’80s and beyond.
The New York Times
Peter, Paul and Mary, the trio that became stars of the 1960s folk music boom, and had enduring hits with their covers of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and songs of their own like “Puff the Magic Dragon,” have assembled a three-pronged celebration of their 50th anniversary – or at least, what the surviving members, Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow (Mary Travers died in 2009) are calling their 50th anniversary.
A new album, “Discovered: Live in Concert,” will include 13 songs the group performed in concert but never recorded in the studio. The recordings were made at a handful of concerts in the 1980s, and rediscovered when the group was compiling “Carry It On,” its 2004 career overview. Only one of the songs, “Mi Caballo Blanco,” was included in that set. The remaining 12 – among them, “Midnight Special,” “You Can Tell the World” and “Cactus in a Coffee Can” – are previously unissued. Rhino will release the set on Nov. 17.
Also due in November is a coffee table book, “Peter, Paul and Mary: 50 Years in Life and Song” (Imagine/Charlesbridge). And on Dec. 1, PBS will air a documentary, “50 Years With Peter, Paul and Mary,” which promises to include archival footage from the group’s appearances at Civil Rights and antiwar demonstrations.
Exactly why this fall should be regarded as the group’s 50th anniversary, however, is a mystery. The trio was formed in 1961, and released its first album, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” in 1962. That would make it closer to 54 years.
“Yeah, it’s kind of an inside joke,” Mr. Stookey explained in an email. “Do you remember the PP&M album called ‘Late Again’? We have a reputation for taking longer than expected because we’re meticulous and sensitive to each other’s reservations. We never did a thing as a trio that all three of us didn’t agree on. We finally agreed on this book – Mary in absentia, mostly, though much of her writings contributed to the text, as well as our recollections of conversations and attitudes.”
ISBN: 978-1-60734-801-6 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-800-9 PDF
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11 3⁄8 x 10 1⁄2
Page count: 144