or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Mr. Cat's Nostalgia Corner
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Mr. Cat's Nostalgia Corner

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Last night I watched a special program broadcast via Public Broadcasting Service about the folk-song trio Peter, Paul and Mary. I was totally unprepared for a particular segment of that program: film of the trio singing at the 28 August 1963 March On Washington--the very same event at which the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior delivered his brilliant message of hope, the "I have a dream" speech.

The trio's performance of "The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer)," written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger and delivered from the same podium at which Doctor King would later speak, sent me into an emotional fugue from which I'm just now recovering. I'd never seen that film before; and immediately--after all these years--I was transported back to an era when everything seemed possible. I was nineteen years of age then; and in less than five years I'd be in the Republic of Viet Nam reading the Stars and Stripes front-page article about Doctor King's death. What a contrast existed between those events only a few years apart!

It's only natural for people younger than I to think of "The Hammer Song" as arcane, old hat, quaint. Mind, I'd not thought of it myself in many years! But, bang, there they were--one of my favorite musical groups standing before a huge audience at one of this nation's most historic events; and I was overcome with emotions which I cannot even describe. As is apt to happen when such troubling moments occur--and it is troubling to think about all that's taken place subsequent to that day in 1963--I've felt a need to share this with whomever might stop and listen.

Peter, Paul and Mary weren't just another folk-music group from back in the early '60s; they were the premiere popular-music group of the day, inspiring untold thousands of young people with musical messages of determination and hope. Truth be told, it's to a generation's credit that such credence was placed in what those musicians had to present; and I'm hoping (perhaps in vain) that such an emergence of support will be forthcoming today--for a musical group or soloist who can snap people out of insidious apathy and create in the public mind images worthy of remembering 40 years hence, lasting ideas of true justice and real peace.

"The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer)"

Peter, Paul and Mary at March On Washington, 28 August 1963

The audience, 28 August 1963

Peter, Paul and Mary: Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, Mary Allin Travers

The trio

Images of the trio are very hard to find on the inter-net.

Mary Travers' killer delivery still floors me.

Bob Dylan, Donovan, Mary Travers

Carrying it on

Five Grammys, five Top 10 albums, 37 Top 40 hits--of which 15 ascended into the Top 10--as well as six gold and three platinum albums

post #2 of 30
They were and still are, one of my favorite groups Joe. I simply love the serenity in their voices as they raised them in unison against all that was wrong with the world in their music. I have all their records, and I still play them from time to time and I am transported back as well. Thanks for this thread, and the walk down Memory Lane-
post #3 of 30
I've heard that song sung for the first time by a former step father and I never knew the meaning really behind it until we sat and talked about it. He sang it at a church retreat. He was an episcopal minister.. I probably can sing it verse for verse, I really like that song.
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks, hissy and jugen, for taking the time to read that long post. Hissy, I'm green with envy! You have all those Peter, Paul and Mary recordings? I'll be right over.

Here's a little factoid which you may find interesting: Peter, Paul and Mary were asked to appear on the television program Hootenany! back in the day; but Pete Seeger (who co-wrote "The Hammer Song") hadn't been allowed on that program, due to his having been placed on the infamous "blacklist" during the McCarthy era; and so Peter, Paul and Mary refused the producers' repeated offers of more money--insisting they'd only appear if Seeger was invited as well. That never happened, but Seeger was invited to appear on The Smothers Brothers television program and did so--along with Peter, Paul and Mary.

post #5 of 30
In 1963 I was 3 years old. I don't really remember the MLK speech or the events in Washington that day, but do remember seeing them appear on the Smother's Brother's show. I love that song. It's one of those songs that sends chills up your spine when you hear it.

Music certainly defined the times in the 60's. Some will say that it started with rock n' roll, but I think it was the compolation of folk, blues and rock n' roll all rolled into the era. When you really listen to music from that time, the roots are all intertwined. That's what made it so great.

Thank you for taking me back to memory lane!
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your memories, Momofmany! And I think you're exactly right: Popular music in the early and middle 1960s certainly encompassed a variety of musical genres, didn't it? I recall bluegrass, folk and jazz all being equally popular along with rock and roll.

And "The Hammer Song" as delivered by Peter, Paul and Mary does indeed go right to the bone! I never cease to be amazed by Mary Travers' projection in those early recordings.

post #7 of 30
Joe, your historical reference threads are always a pleasure to read. Hope it makes the effort you went to in researching them worth it.
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Deb25! In this case, I'd say my effort was more than repaid. Indeed, here as elsewhere in Message-Board Land I've made huge posts which attracted little or nothing in the way of replies; but everyone who's replied to this thread has been very kind. Also, when it comes to these mega-posts of mine, it's as much a matter of getting something off my chest as it is an altruistic desire to inform others.

I suppose it's like face-to-face conversation in some respects. You've no doubt had the experience of telling somebody what for you is an important anecdote, only to have them say "How about them Cubs?" or "I've got to go now" or "Some weather we've been having, eh?"

Fortunately for me, this wasn't one of those times! Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to reply and for being in tune (pardon the pun) with this thread's original intent.

post #9 of 30
Joe, I was born in 1974 and reading this thread, hearing the song and seeing the pics makes me wish I was there. I don't consider myself young any more at 30 but thank you for telling those of us who were'nt around then, about what must have been an unforgettable, life-changing and emotionally charged time.
post #10 of 30
Joe, thanks for that information. I grew up listening to Peter, Paul and Mary (Mom and Dad were folk music fans). During dinner, we'd be just as likely to be listening to "Puff the Magic Dragon" as any 80's music. And since I first read this thread, I've had "Take me for a ride in your car-car" running through my head.
post #11 of 30
Joe, I am a fifties baby (1954) and UK born and bred. I dont really remember the MLK speech as it affected us little over here until many years after (unless you were of the right age etc) I always thought Peter Paul and Mary a bit naff I must admit but maybe I should look again and have a reappraisal. So many good things have been said about their music here. We were only offered what was 'popular' and not anything in depth. I will say that Puff the Magic Dragon drives me totally mad and unfortunatly my opinion of PPM is based on that.This is due to being brought up in a ballet dancing family (mother teacher, sisters dancers) and this was at those horrid childrens dance festivals playing endlessly with small girls dancing dreadfully all hoping to become the next 'star' of stage and screen (I am forever scarred mentally by this image) However,the older I get the more 'open' I am for new things so will try again. My teenage years were made up of American Soul/Blue Stax Label i.e. Otis Redding (I remember wearing a black arm band when he died)!
post #12 of 30
The song running through my head now is their racehorse song- Old Stillwall I believe was the name.

I also remember the big hoopla that came out after they released Puff the Magic Dragon, so many folks thought it was a promote smoking Pot song or that it was about a massive war weapon in the Vietnam war. When in actuality, one of Yarrow's friends who was in a fraternity at the time, just having left home, wrote it to say goodbye to the magic of childhood, where we all leave our imagination behind to enter the grown-up world of studies and work and application. It didn't help that after the song came out, someone in Vietnam did actually name a plane and a weapon Puff the Magic Dragon-

Thanks again Joe, for the memories.
post #13 of 30
MA, was it Stewball? You can go here and if you scroll to the middle of the page and click on the little note icon, you can listen to a short clip.
post #14 of 30
PS The Trips might like to listen to one of the tracks here
post #15 of 30
You are right Tania, I was pre-coffee-
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
Kumbulu! It's great to see you! Thanks for those links to musical snippets from The Irish Rovers and Peter, Paul and Mary. That era had slipped down a very long corridor in my brain, hiding in a dusty room, until I saw the television program to which I alluded earlier; and then it came roaring back, with a force I'd not expected.

Okeefecl, were your parents beatniks or hippies--or neither (or both)? Of course Peter, Paul and Mary appealed to a wide audience; hence their extreme popularity. I was attending college when "Puff The Magic Dragon" was released; and I still enjoy hearing that song!

Tulip2454, I can appreciate your dislike of a song which (at your location) was overplayed. Believe me, I've a list of such songs as well! And, ironically in this case, my list topper is "Dock Of The Bay"--closely followed by "Stairway To Heaven" and "Free Bird." When I was in the Republic of Viet Nam, Armed Forces Viet Nam radio played "Dock Of The Bay" at least once every hour for a year. Mind, I wasn't able to listen to the radio all that often; but when I did, there was Otis for the millionth time. Alas!

Hissy, I too recall the big magilla about "Puff The Magic Dragon" being a dope-smoking song: "Puff" supposedly indicated inhalation, "lived by the sea" was thought to be "lived by the 'C'," meaning cocaine, "little Jacky Papers" referred to rolling papers for making joints, et cetera. Personally, I thought all those suppositions were far fetched and self serving--for dope-smoking disciples and opponents alike. And I remember the "Puff The Magic Dragon" gunships quite well, as I saw them in action. Whoa!

post #17 of 30
Originally posted by Mr. Cat
Okeefecl, were your parents beatniks or hippies--or neither (or both)? Of course Peter, Paul and Mary appealed to a wide audience; hence their extreme popularity. I was attending college when "Puff The Magic Dragon" was released; and I still enjoy hearing that song!
Neither. Mom and Dad met at Catholic University, a pretty conservative place (although they did take over the cathedral to protest the firing of a popular [and gay] professor). I guess they just liked good vocal music, if that makes sense. We listened to the Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, the Mamas and the Papas...and I still do.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
Yesterday I received in the mail Carry It On by Peter, Paul and Mary (Warner Brothers R2-73907 2003). It's a box set with four compact disks and one digital versatile disk, plus an 88-page book.

There's one more song I wanted you all to hear (even if you've heard it before) because I think it applies today as much as it did when the trio sang it 40 years ago. So click and enjoy: The Times They Are A Changin' (Live).

post #19 of 30
I love the song "Times are a Changing"! We made a video tribute for my mom when she was terminally ill. Put pictures of her life to music, and for the period when her 5 kids were getting older, getting married and moving out, we played that song. Now I cry whenever I hear it.
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
That's a lovely thing you did for your mother, Momofmany. I wish I'd have done the same, when my mother became terminally ill.

post #21 of 30
Originally posted by Mr. Cat

Tulip2454, I can appreciate your dislike of a song which (at your location) was overplayed. Believe me, I've a list of such songs as well! And, ironically in this case, my list topper is "Dock Of The Bay"--closely followed by "Stairway To Heaven" and "Free Bird." When I was in the Republic of Viet Nam, Armed Forces Viet Nam radio played "Dock Of The Bay" at least once every hour for a year. Mind, I wasn't able to listen to the radio all that often; but when I did, there was Otis for the millionth time. Alas! [/b]
Those songs always remind me of my childhood (born in May, 1957). The song that evokes Vietnam for me is "White Rabbit" (I think that's the name) by Jefferson Airplane. I'm hearing-impaired, so not at all reliable about titles, lyrics, etc.. This is going to sound weird, but for some reason I remember Malcolm X far more clearly than MLK, although I'm more or less "white bread" (primarily, though not completely, white, Anglo-Saxon, middle class, and a "Yankee"). Wasn't it Peter, Paul and Mary who performed "I'm leaving, on a jet plane..."? This brings back memories. Our neighbor (stepped on a mine and came home in a body bag) and my uncle (survived several tours of duty; career Marine; now retired, but still reckless and cynical) were in Vietnam in the early stages of the war. I was a little kid, and despite the fact that I spoke Spanish fairly fluently, the reports of "guerilla" fighters on TV left me with the impression that our troops were fighting gorillas (I had no idea at the time that there were no gorillas in SE Asia). After all this time, on rainy, misty spring mornings I still think of Ronnie (our neighbor), because it was on just such a morning that we learned he'd been killed. That was about forty years ago. He would probably have been a grandfather, looking forward to retirement, if he had survived. The invasion of Iraq has forced me to remember too many bad things about the Vietnam War; every day there are reports of deaths, and I question whether they were "absolutely necessary". Involvement in WWII was essential, but I can't apply those criteria to the war in Iraq. Afghanistan, yes, Iraq, no. Sorry, I'm not out to get this thread moved to the IMO forum. I just feel that many of our politicians really aren't aware of the price tag atached to their decisions.
post #22 of 30
Thread Starter 
Anybody who doesn't think of politics and/or war when reminded of Peter, Paul and Mary must have been either too young or too stoned during the 1960s. So if this thread ends up being moved, jcat, let's just chalk it up to reality!

In the event, I'm sorry to learn your neighbor was killed whilst in Viet Nam. Such tragedies as you describe are part and parcel of what happens when governments choose to avoid intelligent diplomacy as a long-term policy. Alas, those with the least to gain from war are the ones who die.

Well, it makes sense to me that you'd remember Malcolm X more readily than Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. After all, you'd have been a toddler when Dr. King rose to international prominence in the civil-rights movement; and by the late 1960s, when you'd have been old enough to better appreciate current events, Malcolm had become the deceased icon of militant black America and thus was sanctified by both academe and the media of communication. Both men were brilliant, but their strategies (as you know) were light years apart until toward the end of Malcolm's life; and Malcolm's change of heart regarding tactics and strategy--wherein he eschewed his previously-militant line--is no doubt what got him killed.

You're right: It was Peter, Paul and Mary whose recording of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" made the song well known. Those of us in military service at the time liked that tune, in no small measure because the line "Don't know when I'll be back again" was quite a reality check.

post #23 of 30
Joe; I did not find this thread until today but you can TRUST I read it all. I was 20 and in college at The Univ. of MO. (Columbia) in 1968. I was one who strummed and sang every PP&M song and hitched my way to WoodStock in '69. In 1971 I moved to Wash. D.C. and attended every march and rally as I waited for my fiance' (D. Craig Walker) who never returned (alive) from Viet Nam. . . .
Years later I sang Puff the Magic Dragon to my 2 nieces (now 26 & 19) many times along with other Donovan Leach hits ("Sunshine came softly thru my window today. . . . ." "Superman or Green Lantern ain't got nothin' on me. . . ")

Just yesterday I entertained Aidan and Zoie (great nephew and great niece ages 3 & 2) with those beautiful Collins, Baez, and Melanie lyrics, (Sweet Sir Gallahad, Candles in the Rain "lay down, lay down; lay them all down. . . ." "You and I travel to the beat of a different drum")

I was a regular at D.C.'s clubs The CellarDoor (in Georgetown); where we heard John Denver open for David Letterman and The Childe Harold (Dupont Circle); where EmiLou Harris was coaxed up on stage with just an accoustic guitar or a fiddle.

So, Joe, thanks for spurring the memories.

To all you "Youngsters", in your 30's and under. It has been proven that music is one of the best memory triggers. A few years from now I wish all of you "floods of recollection" when you hear your favorite U-2, Train, Hootie & The BlowFish, or Bjork lyric.

Hugs of Warm Nostalgia,
post #24 of 30

You were at Woodstock? Do share some of your memories from that event! I would love to hear about them. (The ones you can talk about on this board anyway)

Mr. Cat enjoy your collection- nothing better to bring peaceful thoughts then to listen to Peter Paul & Mary-
post #25 of 30
I should have been a child of the sixties - I am a peacenik at heart. Although I was born in 1971, I have seen Peter, Paul and Mary live in concert 3 times. Eave time is more amazing then the last. I just wish I had been around during the height of their popularity. I think that the messages in Peter, Paul and Mary music are just as appropriate today as they were then!
post #26 of 30
Hissy; WOODSTOCK ! Where do I begin. . . . ? The people (a sea of people everywhere we looked), the rain, the mud, the cold, but THEY did NOT outshine the love, the sharing, the music, the weed, the acid, the hashish, the meth. . . . . .There was not enough space for the 6 times the expected number of people who showed up. Fresh water, potties, food, camping space, electricity; forget it. Everyone shared. There was many a pot of "Stone Soup" prepared and shared. There were First Aide tents and Dr.'s and nurses who were provided or just showed up as participants and pitched in where needed. I know of at least 2 births that took place in our area !

Traffic came to a total STOP about 3 miles from the entrance gate. Those without tickets were turned away and commenced about a mile down the fence and made their own entrance. Those in charge realized early on that there was SO MUCH MORE than a concert weekend happening here !!!

Oh, I forgot to tell you that my friend and I were given a ride about 20 miles from the farm by 3 nice guys in a Rockin' Van who just happened to be The Allman Brothers. More on that later. They were not scheduled preformers, but it was an "Instant Admissions Ticket" for all of us in the van.

We were in and had a camping spot with other musicians and the inside of the van was like a Giant Hoopa. . . . .Can you say CONTACT HIGH ?

(to be continued)
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
Darlene, it's great to see you again! Well, let me say this right up front: I DID NOT GO TO WOODSTOCK. Alas, I missed my chance to meet you.

But I'm very glad to know you were there! And I'm happy to learn you, too, are a PP&M fan. Those other musicians you mentioned were great in their own way, but none of them (in my view) made music which rose to PP&M's level of excellence in delivery.

Sadly, I never saw PP&M in person. But I did see Pete Seeger in concert, which was a wonderful experience. (Factoid warning! In the early 1960s we sometimes referred to PP&M as "Peter, Paul and Mounds." Sorry.)

Anyway, here are a few linkies which might interest the membership:

Peter Paul & Mary Website

Peter Yarrow Aviv Productions, Ltd.
[Note: Peter doesn't appear to have his own official web site. This is merely his booking agency.]

Noel Paul Stookey

Mary Travers
[Note: Mary doesn't appear to have her own official web site.]

post #28 of 30
I just wondered if any of you who were in Vietnam - Mr.Cat? - have been back for whatever reasons. I dont know if it has changed but one would think so after all this time. I am going over again in August for 3 weeks. This time I will get out of Saigon into the Delta and travel a bit (the bits you are allowed to travel in!) They do say that time hasnt changed that part of the country one little bit. Last time I was there I met a few Australians who fought at Vung Tau (dont think thats the correct spelling but...) who were very interesting.
They did say though that the bars in Saigon were still the same as they remembered! A lot a Americans who just didnt leave who now hang out there still.
post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 
I've not been back to Viet Nam, tulip2454. It would be interesting to go there, after all these years, but I'm afraid the Social Security Administration isn't sufficiently generous in its dole to allow for global travel on my part. (Besides, my Rich Uncle would probably contend he'd already paid for my year-long stay in the Republic of Viet Nam back in 1968-69).

Kristin, a friend of mine whose father was killed in the Viet Nam War, went to Southeast Asia last year at this time. Her focus was also the delta region; and she was fortunate in that she met the Viet Minh officer ("Viet Cong" being a term created by the former Saigon regime and promulgated by U.S. media of communication) who was in command of the ambush in which Kristin's father died.

Now, according to her, nothing--or very nearly nothing--constructed by the U.S. during that war remains visible. The jungle has reclaimed almost all that wasn't carried off for peaceful purposes after the war. However, Kristin told me the Vietnamese people are very friendly--northerners and southerners alike--so it's possible with their assistance to discover sites of old airfields, camps, fire bases, et cetera. But don't expect to find much in the way of artifacts, as little remains.

Also, since it's been 30 years, land use has changed in many places. What was once a rice paddy might now be something else entirely. Kristin also told me Saigon (nobody outside the government calls it Ho Chi Minh City) remains a very lively place, if somewhat run down; and Hanoi, though much "cleaner" than Saigon, is a rather boring place activity-wise.

post #30 of 30
Originally posted by Mr. Cat
However, Kristin told me the Vietnamese people are very friendly--northerners and southerners alike

=^..^= [/b]
Only the southerners are friendly, if you listen to my Vietnamese brother in law.
I think thats more to do with what happened after the American war than during it. He was born during the tail end of that war but was of age to serve in the Cambodian War.

I wonder if there is ANYONE alive today that has not had war touch them in some way. Some actually there, others who had people they knew killed or maimed. Uncles, cousins etc. My father was in WWII and now my brother in law in Cambodia. My other sisters husband was caught up in the 'Troubles' as we call the 1970's uprising in Ireland.
Very sad.
Its good that the music from our past can evoke happy memories.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Cat Lounge
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Mr. Cat's Nostalgia Corner