Peter, Paul and Mary – 50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary
directed by Jim Brown
starring Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers
Before rock and roll changed the world, there were folk singers out there protesting wars and getting arrested for sitting still in one place. At the top of that heap you will find Peter, Paul and Mary, which is about as straight-ahead band name as you can come up with. The three got together in Greenwich Village and started singing around New York coffee houses. Fame came quickly, after 7 months of rehearsal, three months of playing and three months of recording an album, they hit number one and didn’t stray far from it until the folk music revolution was overcome by acid rock.
Director Jim Brown gives us a thorough and loving look at the group. Most of their big hits are here and better still the songs are mostly full cuts with few cutaways or interjections. “Leaving on A Jet Plane”, “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, and “Five Hundred miles” highlight this collection, but really there are no bad cuts in this project. All the band members give solid interviews, most are archival, but a few that look specific to these project. Mary Travers gets the most air time even though she died of leukemia back in 2009, but is the face of the band. She’s a feminist ideal; she changed the world AND raised a family and a happy marriage. Yarrow and Stookey are still touring, it’s a calculated mission to carry on without her, but they still offer most of the same magic today as they did a life time ago. There’s more than a few tears as well, this was a band the public loved, and miraculously they never did anything to alienate their fan base even as their politics alienated the far right. There may be bands out there today with the same politics, but so far none of them have made the same mark on music in general. You may not change the world by singing, but you can change people’s hearts.