It has been five years since Mary Travers passed away. There was a
replay of her famous people-populated memorial service on PBS
over last weekend. I was weeping and laughing throughout this special
moment in time. The memories of the group “Peter, Paul and Mary”
will always be there, ingrained into my emotional well being.
Mary was 72 years old, living from November 9, 1936 until she passed
away on September 16, 2009. She was born in Kentucky and at age two,
moved to New York with her family. This is where she eventually got
connected with music. Mary died in Connecticut, after fiercely battling
leukemia. She had endured bone marrow transplants, in the hopes of
living longer. I have to add, ‘fighting until the end,’ since Mary was not
one to be afraid or back down on Life or any important issues.
The families of the three close and dear friends still gather to this day.
They play music and continue peaceful activities giving tribute to her
memory. There were montages (photographs and film) shown through-
out the special program. Picnics with families sitting on their blankets,
children running around while Peter and Paul’s, along with Mary’s,
families all gather and rejoice in their loving connections.
At the Memorial Service shown on PBS, I was impressed with the ones
who came to give their respects. I hope it may be of interest to you, to
remember the members of the musical group along with hearing what
the prominent guests shared about Mary Travers. Each time I tried to
listen to the words being said, but paraphrased and encapsulated them.
George McGovern gave a serious pronouncement declaring that Mary
‘would not stand for bigotry or racism,’ and said her life was devoted to
opening people’s hearts and allowing love to come inside.
John Kerry said in a kindly, folksy tone, ‘All the ones who support
people’s rights are here and present. Carrying on the message will be
Bill Moyers was emotional and said for everyone to keep singing and
believing, passing the Peace around.
Whoopie Goldberg talked about Mary’s impact on people’s lives by
saying Mary had an incredible way of ‘touching people’s lives and
changing them for the better.’
There was a song video tribute replaying a concert that Pete Seeger
sang with Peter, Paul and Mary.
The way that the two men spoke of Mary got me crying, something
about Mary “lives in their cells.” Something about Mary is part of the
“fabric of our country.” She lives on in so many different ways. Not
sure if this was Paul, but my notes say,
“Love ties us together. The vibration of Peter, Paul and Mary, I believe,
made the world a better place to live.”
Gloria Steinem spoke about how Mary believed everyone should be
treated the same wherever they came from and whoever they were.
She mentioned, Mary Travers stood up for “Peace, Justice and
Equality,” supporting all people. This also included the Women’s
Rights Movement and the Civil Right’s Movement. I had forgotten
that they were there at the March on Washington and were in the
Selma and other southern cities singing about peaceful protesting.
The meaningful and moving song called, “We Shall Not Be Moved,”
(written and has been performed by Mavis Staples) was played at
Mary’s Memorial Service. The audience and choir sang along with
A beautiful poem with inspiring words (that were metaphors for
branches of humanity) started with its words about there being
one world, many forests. Then many forests, many trees. As it
went, many trees, many branches, many branches, one branch,
and many leaves.” (The person who explained this as multiple
faiths, one God, made it very spiritual. They mentioned that
God is for everyone. . .) I have to admit, I cannot seem to track
this one down. Sorry, but it was lovely, wished to share its
message and it made me wonder who wrote it, too.
The funny parts of the tribute to Mary Travers were about how
her blonde hair and good looks brought more mail and men to
the concerts. Also, there were references about her being sexy
and rocking back and forth, moving with lots of energy during
their concerts. Peter and Paul took turns sometimes interjecting
the funny, comic relief moments.
Many people repeated throughout the PBS special, the music of
Peter, Paul and Mary was more than just for one period of time,
it is ‘for all times.’ It was not written with definitive beginnings and
endings, it was meant to be “Music for Change.”
Of course, the wisdom and message about Peace is found within
the words of, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” (Which was written and sung
by Bob Dylan, permission given to be sung by P, P and Mary over
The words about loving your country and being part of the world,
“This Land Is Your Land,” is another recognizable song. This fine
song was written by Woody Guthrie, before WWII, in 1940. The
long lasting message resonates with me, doesn’t it with you?
I like all versions of it, but am most familiar with the way Peter,
Paul and Mary sang this anthem. It makes me proud to be an
John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” continues to be affiliated
with the group, Peter, Paul and Mary, too. (John has been gone
for seven years, having accidentally crashed his ultra light plane
There are possibly millions of weddings where they included the
loving words of the song, “Wedding Song/There is Love.”
So many children loved the words to, “Puff the Magic Dragon”
that when they grew up to be parents they taught their own kids
to love the words, too.
Two love songs I ‘slow danced to’ were, “Like the First Time” and
“Such is Love.” Another one which my parents liked, “Kisses Are
Sweeter than Wine.”
A new Rally Call is being made to this new or next generation and
there is a program called, “Operation Respect.” This is being done in
Mary’s name. 22 different countries, including Israel, have people
who have joined together and are following this project.
Do you have a favorite Peter, Paul and Mary memory or song?
The two remaining members, Peter and Paul, continue to spread
or sow seeds of love and understanding around the world. After
all, we still need the message.