Back in 2009, on the occasion of Mary Travers’ passing, I wrote an obit for her where I argued, among other things, for her (and her group’s) singular importance in the history of folk music and especially, topical protest music.
One significant piece of the argument, rarely acknowledged by others anywhere, ever, was PP&M’s now taken-for-granted ability to put the radical young Bob Dylan high on the charts a full two years before the “folk rock” boom and to do so specifically with one of his protest songs…which was relevant to the Civil Rights movement in that year’s headlines and also to the escalation of the Viet Nam war, still two years away. Unspoken in all that, was the notion that not even the rise of Bob Dylan was inevitable.
I’m sure others have made this point, but, if so, I’ve never actually heard or read about it. So I’m especially happy to note that, as of now, I know of at least one other person who agrees with me.
I feel like this is pretty good company.
On Peter, Paul & Mary’s early hit version of “Blowin’ in the Wind”:
“I didn’t even think of myself as writing songs for others to sing, but it was starting to happen and it couldn’t have happened to, or with, a better group. They took a song of mine that hadn’t been recorded before that was buried on one of my records and turned it into a hit song. Not the way I would have done it — they straightened it out. But since then hundreds of people have recorded it and I don’t think that would have happened if it wasn’t for them. They definitely started something for me.”
(Bob Dylan, on the occasion of his accepting an award from MusiCares: L.A. Times, Feb. 7, 2015)
Lengthy excerpts of the speech can be found here. Highly recommended reading. And listening, of course….