Friday, September 18, 2009

P + P - M = :(


Oh, it's a sad week.

Mary Travers passed away, leaving Peter & Paul without the third part to their harmony.

This is a day I've been dreading for years, really, because let's face it: Peter, Paul nor Mary weren't getting any younger. These folksters had been rocking out for decades, and the ride had to end some time.

So while not a total shock, the news of Mary's passing was still somehow inconceivable. How could she be gone? (She was so full of life.) How can there be no more Peter, Paul & Mary concerts to attend? (They were so full of hope & challenge.)

I'm, like, seriously bummed, y'all.

Each year, when PP&M posted their tour schedule, MadDawg and I would peruse the show dates and wonder if we shouldn't make every effort to see them. We had been to many a concert already, but - "What if this is the last year!? Our last chance to see them!?"

We knew a good thing when we saw it. And we wanted to see it again, and again, and sit on the lawn at WolfTrap and hear the familiar greeting: "We come to Washington, D.C. twice each year - once to yell at the President, and once to sing for you!"

When the President sent my little brother far away to fight a battle I didn't believe in, I leaned on the anti-war songs of Peter, Paul & Mary and wondered with them, "When will we ever learn?"

Passing years slowed the group down - Mary walked with a cane, Noel Paul occassionally forgot his own lyrics ("Senior moment," he'd quip and carry on) - but they never grew complacent and their performances were always rousing.

Every time they sang the song "Have You Been To Jail for Justice?" they made me want to go to jail for justice, especially when Mary would punctuate the verses by shaking her cane in the air.

If you'll excuse and forgive my sentimental hyperbole (I'm a girl in mourning, after all): Peter, Paul & Mary embody/ied the true spirit of our country and made me proud to be an American. They followed their passionate convictions to stand up to oppressors, to fight injustice, to educate, to challenge the powers-that-be, to champion the disenfranchised.

The times are always a'changing, but PP&M's quest for peace and justice was timeless and beautiful. I loved being stirred by the same songs that my parents listened to, the songs that were part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War protests.

Their music was historic, both for the part it played in our nation's past, as well as the thread it wove through my own personal history: The song my mother used for my childhood lullabies was the song that college friends and I would circle up and sing along to, whenever MadDawg broke out the guitar during study breaks.

And it was the same song I loved to hear as an adult - sitting on a blanket at one of their concerts, chin resting on my knees, swaying back and forth along with the other concert goers - baby-boomers and their grandchildren, former hippies, wannabe former hippies, wannabe future jailbirds (jailbirds for justice!) - while Mary led the verses ("Now the time has come to leave you...") and Peter & Paul carried along the chorus ("Don't know when I'll be back again...").

And now, what is there left to say? I think I've waxed nostalgic enough.

Mary Travers - you will be missed. Thanks for the memories, the message and the music.

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