TBT: Eat, Drink, and Peter Paul and Mary

It would make more historical sense to do a tribute to something on The Challenger explosion, but I'm not even gonna attempt make that funny, and I'm not in any particular poignant mood.

Anyway, January 29th happens to be the day in 1962 that Peter, Paul, and Mary signed their first recording contract with Warner Brothers, and maybe it's not in the Top Ten of great historical moments, but it does have a certain Butterfly Effect that reverberates to what I do now.

Folk music is kinda weird.

It's born out of . . . well . . . music that regular folks play. Not too many chords. Not too many keys.

There aren't any set rules, but there is usually a banjo player.

The songs are usually allegorical, when froggy goes a courtin', or metaphorical when we wonder where all the flowers have gone, and the format is usually a pleasant ABAB. (Not to be confused with ABBA the Swedish pop group)

 I'm a lover of the ABABCB form, which is far more pop than ballad.

I can blame The Beatles for that.

(Some might consider it AABA, but I think if you are gonna have a separation between verse, chorus, and bridge, you're gonna need a third variable.)

Anyway, returning to the Greenwich Trio, back in the early sixties (I say like I was there), there was a great divide among folk musicians (partisan politics, you might say)

Now either you have the squeaky clean Lawrence Welk acts, or you've got Pete Seeger and the Weavers getting derailed because of the Red Scare. Remember, this was a time when social security was well funded.

So you've got this great divide. Squeeky clean versus dangerous subversive.

Enter Albert Grossman, the man who sees that there is money to be made in the middle.

Co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival, he puts together a music trio, clean-cut, non-threatening, kids next door, who just sorta happen to slip in some Dylan songs in between renditions of "If I had a Hammer" and "Puff the Magic Dragon"

Who's got time for revolution when you're frolicking in the autumn mist?

Does anyone not get misty when Jackie Paper dies?

And no . . . it's not a referendum on smoking pot. Marijuana hadn't been invented in 1962.

Opium. Now there was a helluva drug.

But what's exciting about Peter, Paul, and Mary being signed to one of the biggest record labels in the world isn't the idea that the way to get heard is to be bland-ish, it's about how the quietly subversive souls who walk in the front door and sneak the cool kids in from the back.

Yeah, okay, for every Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, you're gonna end up with like twelve John Denvers.

But that's okay.  Who hasn't caught themselves enjoying a John Denver song?


That's who.

And you can make the argument it is the uncompromising, very vocal, revolutionaries that manifest change.

They certainly influence it.

But it's the kids who play nice who are more likely to move the chains.

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