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Ch. 06 – Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Peter, Paul, & Mary, 1963

The balancing act between the two extremes of folk music in the 1960s was no more carefully managed than in the output of Peter, Paul & Mary. Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers were struggling with solo careers (singing, standup comedy and acting, respectively) before a talent manager pulled them together to try a group act. Their personal chemistry and cohesive harmony was instant. In 1962 they signed with Warner Bros. and had their first hit songs, Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.”

But the following year was even more successful with Top Ten hits “Puff, the Magic Dragon” (a Yarrow composition), and two Dylan songs, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  The popularity of “Blowin'”, together with the exposure given him by the Joan Baez tour, secured Dylan’s place as the “Guthrie” for the next generation – a prophet in search of peace and a poet seeking justice.

During the next couple years, PP&M were staple figures at the Newport Folk Festival and at civil rights rallies in America. When King marched on Washington, D.C. in August, 1963, they joined Joan Baez and others on the platform with the civil rights leader.

The mid-1960s were the height of the folk movement in America and the popularity of Peter, Paul and Mary. Together with the protest songs, they also found success with pop-folk songs such as “For Lovin’ Me” by Gordon Lightfoot in 1965 and John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” in 1969.

In spite of the popular success of their pop-folk songs, they always attempted to maintain the delicate balance between entertainment and social activism. Never a part of the rock movement, their 1967 hit “I Dig Rock ‘n Roll Music” was a tongue-in-cheek jab at the meaningless lyrics and missed opportunities of rock ‘n’ roll.

                               “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!”

The song, which musically and vocally parodied The Mamas and the Papas, Donovan, and The Beatles, was co-written by Paul Stookey; it was the final flag for the folk movement of the 1960s. The interests of mainstream American youth, and therefore, the media, had shifted from folk music based on philosophic convictions to rock and pop-rock where the experiential emotions were the goal. Activism was out; material success, complacency and drug experimentation was in.

Following moderately successful solo careers in the 1970s, Peter, Paul and Mary reunited in 1978 for the aptly titled album, Reunion. During the decades of the eighties and nineties, the group recorded and performed on a steady basis, still speaking and singing out on behalf of those oppressed in places like El Salvador and South Africa and the plight of the Jews in the Russia.

Peter, Paul, and Mary with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

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