Peter, Paul and Mary provided a sound track to the early ’60s, a time that was troubled by war and the striving for civil rights.
Their songs were gentle, often sad and in their own way, powerful expressions of yearning for a more compassionate, just world. They hit the mark with songs like “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Later artists would come along in the decade and turn up the volume and the anger, but Mary Travers, with her long, blond hair, and strong, soaring voice — standing there between two beatnik-looking guys on guitar — made quite the impression back then.
I can remember early in my Army training being hauled out into the field on one of those bus-like contraptions we called a cattle car and the guys were singing, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
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Many of us knew we would probably be heading to Vietnam, and there we were singing this little peace anthem, mainly because it was one that was easy to sing and everyone knew the words.
Mary Travers died last week, and heaven knows, the world seems to have more troubles than ever.
Here in her honor, are some song suggestions for the iPod to help get us through the recession:
n “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen. I hear that he opened his recent concert in Ford Amphitheater just up I-75 with this song. It’s originally from the 1970s, and comes complete with a driving beat and stinging guitar, and feels contemporary for 2009.
n “Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin. Title says it all and it’s one of the rare Zep songs where you will hear the voices of the other band members, in addition to Robert Plant.
n “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. Art Garfunkel’s angelic voice carries off Paul Simon’s lyrics in a transcendent way.
n “Money (That’s What I Want)” as sung by the Beatles. It’s what makes the world go ’round, and everybody has been trying to save some lately.
n “Feeling Stronger Every Day,” by Chicago. Hearing this song gives me a much needed shot of adrenalin. Like they say, if the adversity doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
n “Planet Claire” by the B-52s, who recently performed on a Saturday night at the Trop. There seems to be no message here other than it’s a goofy, good-time song with lots of rock guitar. I like goofy and good-time.
n “Higher Ground” as performed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
n “It’s My Life” by No Doubt and Talk Talk. Whenever we feel overwhelmed by all the bad news, it’s good to remember in many ways we are still masters of our destiny,
n “Give Me Some Truth” by John Lennon, because we’re always hungry for the truth. We’ve become so polarized that there are widely clashing versions of the truth.
Rest in peace, Mary Travers. You told the truth as you understood it.
James A. Jones Jr., editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.