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Mary Travers Is Gone And I've Got The Blues

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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:58 AM
Original message
Mary Travers Is Gone And I've Got The Blues
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 11:05 AM by MineralMan
My high school days ran from 1959 to 1963. It was a time of transition, not just for me, but for the whole country. The Vietnam era was just beginning, and none of us could forget hiding under our desks in grammar school in those "atom bomb" drills.

Thanks to Alan Lomax and Pete Seeger, we started to hear the folk music of America's past. From the blues to the hill country music, and from old labor protest songs to the laments of migrant workers in the South, we began to become aware that our America wasn't just the calm, friendly place we thought it was. All of this hit me like a ton of bricks in about 1960. What an awakening. I listened to Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other pioneers in the resurrection of another kind of music of America, far from the Rock and Roll so popular with other kids my age.

Three friends and I shared this fascination. We dug up some guitars, an autoharp, and an antique 5-string banjo and started learning how to play them. We were all band geeks, so we knew something about music, and taught ourselves the rudiments of these strange stringed instruments. We learned the few chords necessary to handle most folk music, and I learned basic clawhammer techniques on the banjo from an old timer in a music store.

We got a copy of one of Alan Lomax's collections of American Folk music, and started learning songs that appealed to us. Pretty soon, we were performing at school events and in the local churches, Rotary Clubs, and other friendly venues. We never went any farther than that, but we learned the music and helped spread it at a local level over the next couple of years.

At the same time, others were doing the same thing, but on a larger scale. Bob Dylan was spinning off the old Woody Guthrie stuff, and Joan Baez was singing the old songs, and some new ones. Groups like The Brothers Four, The Lettermen, The Limelighters, and Peter, Paul and Mary were bringing this newly-rediscovered music into the popular music scene. Others, like Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, were reviving bluegrass music. It was a music revolution for some of us in those days of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a quartet of long-haired boys from England. It was an alternative at a time when we needed one.

That alternative included songs of protest against war, poverty, and other evils of modern civilization. Every group included some of these protest songs in their repertory, and new ones were written in the same style. Everyone influenced one another, and paid homage to some of the folks from the previous generation who had dedicated their lives to collecting this dying brand of music so it could be passed along.

For many of us who were growing up in the period, that music was the beginning of a new way of looking at the world. Inspired by the music and the lyrics that made it up, we began to question the status quo. We moved from being complacent kids to seekers of something else. Some of us joined the protesters in Selma. Others founded and populated the anti-war movement brought on by our ill-fated excursion into Vietnam. Some became hippies. Some of us just became staunch liberals and progressives.

Mary Travers, the female vocalist from Peter, Paul, and Mary, was one small element of that process. Mentored by Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax, she was a part of the inspiration that led so many of us in the early 60s to learn, grow, and go on to change the face of America. Now that inspired and inspiring generation is beginning to leave us. It reminds us just how much change we've seen and been part of. We'll miss you, Mary!
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. That is Really Sad
What a voice she had, and what a voice for peace she was.

Here's a performance of probably my favorite song of hers, There is a Ship

This may not be the appropriate place to mention it, but boy, what a babe Mary Travers was in the 60s. She seemed very broken down the last ten years or so. Mary did not seem like the kind of person to lead the kind of hard life other musicians did, but who knows. It is so sad to see people like her passing on.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Ahh...we were all young and attractive back then.
Time has a way of knocking the babeness and dudeness out of all of us, but shouldn't affect our spirits.
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Very nicely put :-) n/t
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David Zephyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
4. We are still heart-broken in our home over Mary's passing.
K&R for your tribute to her. Years ago, I got to sit in one of the box seats right below the stage at the Hollywood Bowl after volunteering all week back in the 1970's. Like so many do in concerts, I was so thrilled to be watching PP&M perform that I looked up and said "I love you, Mary Travers." She looked down on this dopey kid with shoulder length hair and said, "I love you, too." I melted.

When she would throw her blonde locks back while performing while dodging the guitars of Peter and Paul, I would also just melt. Her smile, her passion, her political courage, her talent, her voice and yes, her tossing her hair all made me just melt.

I miss her greatly. She is in my DNA. And one more time, "I love you Mary Travers."

Nice tribute, MineralMan!

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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Thank you very much. I can't overstate the impact music
had on my life back then. It helped me discover new ways of looking at things. Peter, Paul, and Mary were part of that.
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