|ALBUM LINER NOTES
If the concert was scheduled for eight-thirty,
it's generally about eight forty-five before the houselights are dimmed.
Peter and Paul are still in the dressing room tuning. It's now some three
years, many miles, laughs and headaches later, and they still want to be
as near perfectly in tune as is unreasonably possible. Probably the
hardest part of making a living just being yourself is keeping that self
from changing too radically once you've become very good and/or successful
at it. Peter, Paul and Mary have no problems in this area.
And if it's now eight forty-five in one of the less
sedate auditoriums on the concert circuit, an element of the audience may
already be stamping its feet and clapping its hands with impatience.
Possibly this element doesn't yet know that something good can be worth
waiting for. In two hours hence it will have been dramatically convinced.
But in the meantime, this impatience turns quickly to enthusiasm once the
spotlight picks up our musical triumvirate being swept onstage by a din of
And for the next little while, if your attention and
your heart don't belong to P, P & M, you've come to their concert with
a great deal on your mind. The program, of course, will be sprinkled with
songs for which they're already famous. But in most instances they'll be
sung better in this live performance than they were on the record you
know, for that was "yesterday" and these youngsters live pretty
much in the Now. How rewarding to hear a familiar song sung familiarly yet
with greater polish, magnified, soul, whatever the nuance that revitalizes
and, hence, revalidates it! No wax museum of old favorites here. We visit
once again with changing, ripening musical expressions. (Case in point,
this rendition of If I Had My Way which manages to multiply the
rhythmic excitement of their earlier version.)
But the biggest part of the P, P & M In Concert
experience is entirely new. And if we're at all sensitive to it, we can
share in the deep excitement that the kids themselves feel a split second
before they generate it through new vehicles like The Times They Are A'
Changin' and Jesus Met The Woman. Certainly these numbers are
good examples of an aspect of Peter, Paul and Mary that deserves more
critical attention: Performers of real artistic stature continue to grow
and modify their art and, in so doing, (if they're strong enough), modify
that fickle phenomenon, public taste. They'll refuse to stand static
amidst their "greatest hits" and wait for the world, while
saluting, to pass them by. Influencing public taste is quite a thing apart
from attempting to "keep up" with it.
Since the very beginning there's been another special
ingredient in "live" Peter, Paul and Mary that even further
distinguishes them from less spectacular performing groups. Having yet to
see them in concert, you may be surprised to hear the third side of this
album begin with Peter's thoughtful and stirring French solo, then move
switfly into a round of singing under his tutelage that, in light of its
energy, pales Mr. Miller's best efforts. (This piece was recorded
What follows soon thereafter is a magnificent hunk of
Paul's private and perculiar comedy invention. It's clear his name could
be Noel Stookey and we'd be just as prone to guffaw. Anyway, he leaves the
mind boggled only long enough to reclaim his guitar, introduce and then
accompany Mary during her own individual thesus.
At the end of Mary's second and very moving solo (Peter
plays alto recorder on There Is A Ship we find all three reassemble
on stage, ready to make their final, most dynamic statement as a group.
This statement has just been prefaced by a glimpse at each of them as
unique and very talented human beings. And it now serves to help us
understand how the whole can apparently be greater than the sum of its
parts; for each of them adds up to a good deal more than just one-third of
American's favorite vocal group. And, as a last example of just how
up-to-the-minute Peter, Paul and Mary like to stay, it bears mentioning
that the enclosed version of their traditional encore, IfI Had A Hammer,
was taken from the last five minutes of the last concert recorded for this
album (Long Beach, California, May 22, 1964). It is, therefore, the best
version so far.
Cries of "More...more!" can be heard
above the swelling ovation that ends the album. If they've taken their
last bow, Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers are probably back in
that dressing room already, discussing corners of tonight's performance
that, from their point of view, might have been smoother. Or, if it's been
one of those magical nights that make a performer unreservedly happy about
his often all-too-public life, they may be back there singing a new song,
still in the works, for a few friends with whom they want to share their
enthusiasm and whose opinion they respect. And not until they're satisfied
that it has a life unto itself will that song become part of a concert or
an album offered up in answer to cries for "More...more!" Which
cries issue, very likely, from those who were stamping their feet when
they didn't know that a good thing was worth waiting for, and who, now
that they've experienced it, are not at all sure they've had enough.