Mary Travers

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I met Mary Travers back in the 1980's at Richland Community College (where she did a show and then a seminar which I attended for some hours).

During the seminar, she listed two musicians who she thought were geniuses, Frank Zappa, and David Bowie.  Frank Zappa because he wrote the music for the words, and David Bowie because he wrote the words for the music (and she thought this was obvious).

She also answered the question, "Why don't you ever sing any Joni Mitchell songs?" quite candidly: "Because she writes her music too *fucking* high, and I can't sing it."

Incidentally, in the write-up (below) they mention that  "I Dig Rock and Roll Music" is a parody of "The Mamas and the Papas".

I had never noticed.  I *always* thought that *was* TM&TP.

If you never noticed, here's the lyrics to "I Dig Rock & Roll Music" (*quite* cheeky, now that I'm in on the joke):

I dig Rock and Roll music 

And I love to get the chance to play. (and sing it)

I figure it's about the happiest sound goin' down today.


The message may not move me, 

Or mean a great deal to me,

But hey! it feels so groovy to say:

I dig the Mamas and the Papas at "The Trip," 

Sunset Strip in L.A.

And they got a good thing goin'

When the words don't get in the way.

And when they're really wailing, 

Michelle and Cass are sailin'.

Hey! they really nail me to the wall. 


I dig Donovan in a dream-like, tripped out way

His crystal images tell you 'bout a brighter day

And when the Beatles tell you

They've got a word "love" to sell you

They mean exactly what they say 


I dig Rock and Roll music 

I could really get it on in that scene.

I think I could say somethin' if you know what I mean

But if I really say it, the radio won't play it

Unless I lay it between the lines



Now, mis-categorizing it was because I was already familiar with "Creeque Alley":


John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy

Just to leave the folk music behind;

Zal and Denny workin' for a penny

Tryin' to get a fish on the line.

In a coffee house Sebastian sat,

And after every number they'd pass the hat.

McGuinn and McGuire just a-gettin' higher in L.A., 

You know where that's at.

And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.


Zally said, "Denny, you know there aren't many

Who can sing a song the way that you do; let's go south."

Denny said, "Zally, golly, don't you think that I wish

I could play guitar like you."

Zal, Denny, and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl)

And after every number they'd pass the hat.

McGuinn and McGuire still a-gettin higher in L.A.,

You know where that's at.

And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.


When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swathmore

But she changed her mind one day.

Standin' on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike,

"Take me to New York right away."

When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps;

Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps.

McGuinn and McGuire couldn't get no higher

But that's what they were aimin' at.

And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.


Mugwumps, high jumps, low slumps, big bumps---

Don't you work as hard as you play.

Make up, break up, everything is shake up;

Guess it had to be that way.

Sebastian and Zal formed the spoonful;

Michelle, John, and Denny gettin' very tuneful.

McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin' fire in L.A., 

You know where that's at.

And everybody's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.


Broke, busted, disgusted, agents can't be trusted,

And Mitchy wants to go to the sea.

Cass can't make it; she says we'll have to fake it---

We knew she'd come eventually.

Greasin' on American Express cards;

Tents low rent, but keeping out the heat's hard.

Duffy's good vibrations and our imaginations

Can't go on indefinitely.

And California dreamin' is becomin' a reality... 

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Mary Travers death came after a long battle with leukemia. She was 72 years old, and the music she made with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey will live on.Their songs like “If I Had a Hammer” freely espoused a liberal sense of social justice. “Lemon Tree,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Puff, the Magic Dragon” are just a few of their award-winning hits. They helped bring Bob Dylan into America’s popular music consciousness and also opposed the war in Vietnam. In sum, the music of Peter, Paul and Mary gently informed the American mainstream that it was OK to question the way things were going in their country. For me, they have been a great comfort.That’s what Peter, Paul and Mary were all about, and Mary Travers’ voice stood for patriotism, authenticity and holding true to what you believe. A simple message with simple yet beautiful music can reach people of all ages, without the aid of payday installment loans to fund a glitzy ad campaign with 70-foot tall Hannah Montanas and Kanye Wests. Mary Travers and her goateed companions were honest. Their sense of justice rang like a freedom bell.

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This page contains a single entry by writch published on September 16, 2009 9:02 PM.

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