| ALBUM LINER NOTES
They've been at it almost four years now. Peter, Paul
and Mary. You see them in a situation above (referring to the album
jacket back pictures of them individually) that's strictly e
pluribus unum these days, and that little old lady who taught us all
longhand would be pleased to see our young friends writing the same
words so over-and-over again. Yes, Virginia, there is such a place as
out-the-other-side of signing your own name. After fifty or sixty times,
a kind of apathy surely sets in. We can recall something like it from
our own very own childhoods, no doubt.
Peter, Paul and Mary. Three words welded tightly
together there in the bright hearts of many millions. We queue up to
track them down concert after concert, insisting that they sign, as
well, those last names they have so little time for anymore. Yarrow,
Stookey and Travers. Stand back, there; let them breathe!
Peter breathes Yarrow maybe two days a week, back in
New York and mostly too busy to sneak in any sitting between his
sleeping and being on the move. There is digging and buying,
not-really-digging and giving away and, even dearer, digging and giving
away. There is painting and pouting and laughing and thinking and
understanding acutely. There is being importantly on the Board of
Directors for the migrant Newport Folk Festival and helping to find
order in the chaos of all those young folk enthusiasts. And, in the
cracks, there's enjoying the physical life and all things beautiful
(animal, vegetable, mineral), combined with more thinking, thinking,
thinking. You may have noticed that Peter speaks rather slowly and with
apparent deliberation onstage. It is the Mr. Yarrow within who must
always do his best to select a thought from the several then proceeding.
The Mr. Stookey has as his pride a wife. An
exceptional Betty, sunny and circumspect both, who is going to have a
son on the 10th of May. Everyone who knows them Stookeys is the better
for it and consequently we in that world rejoice at the prospect of
progeny. Mr. Stookey, himself a golfnut and producer of folk records, is
so relaxed at this impending papahood that he of the steeltrap memory
forgets things now and never used to. The pet Jaguar they keep in the
garage is sick of a cracked block from want of a drink of anti-freeze.
Too bad, pet Jaguar, you are about to become number- two favorite in any
case. To such a serious extent that Mr. Stookey has asked Paul and
America for the night of May 10th off. Let us hope that things can go
his way, for he too is a sunny, sensible guy, and worthy of his salt as
both a Paul and a Stookey.
And as for the married Mary, she's as merry a married
Mary as might be. In those big blue eyes we see reflected the vamp of an
elfin daughter. Inquisitive Erika is the shortcake in mother's lavish
diet, talking now, always and too well, with so many smart things that
one hardly noticed the reckless tempo his attention must meet. Tricks
taught by mother, some perhaps inadvertently, but all with a big
spontaneous heart hiding in a blonde that breaks them all. Mother also
knows the tricks of interior decorating; and a recent change in mood has
made a recent change in living- room, an all-too-little-lived-in space
anyway. Which space sometimes contains Mary's mister, Barry, that
moustacheod devil who takes all these hip pictures. A word-and-picture
book on which our clever brush collaborated with Bob Dylan appears in
the fall of this year. Barry has charm with a fast valve on it, a
Porsche, a motorcycle and a greater appetite for fun that this world can
face without a blush. He repeatedly reminds his missus that all work and
no play makes no sense. She smiles wistfully and agrees, as the seatbelt
sign comes on once more.
And so it goes for all three, largely by their first
names and in their big fast airplanes. Back and forth, up and down. Town
after town and concert after concert, spreading the joy and respect for
meaningful leisure, winning praise of statesmen and nincompoops alike
and often uniting both in an instant of togetherness called common
purpose, mutual enjoyment, anything that conjures an image of grandscale,
wholesome love. Take a room full of five thousand people and ponder them
all feeling good about the same thing at the same time. It is a
wonderful prospect, without a doubt, and one of the really civilized
phenomena. While misery may be at home watching TV and loving that
company, a good time being had by all is somehow multiples of itself.
And that occasional taste of the chin-up brotherhood of man, to bring
that off is an art, by Gee. A folk art that's full of spice from other
islands and the simple truth that we learn about ourselves from others,
be they in the past or in the Poconos.
Ah, but, elsewhere in the arts the painter paints and
is through; the writer writes and has had it out. While the singer sings
and sings, and sings again tomorrow night. For the supper that he
doesn't always have time for.
What wonderful fools, then, these magic mortals be.
For, between long, thoughtful sessions when they make these records and
benefits for causes in which they have conviction, Peter, Paul and Mary
must hurry hither and yon, meeting their fellow mortals with a message
of peace, love, relax and reflect. There have been and will be further
missions to Europe and the East, but by and large those aforementioned
mortals are we bemused Americans, scurrying around in pursuit of that
leisure we're not quite sure how to handle.
P, P and M's single records, what's more, very often
do as well as they do here in countries where English is not spoken,
which fact is related by way of saying something about saying something.
Yes, a song will rise, say they. Praises be, say we. Godspeed,
good health and more power to them.
-JOHN COURT, 1965-