Sunday, December 18, 2016

Peter, Paul & Mary: Puff, the Magic Dragon (1965)



Peter, Paul & Mary perform “Puff, the Magic Dragon” in 1965, around the time I first heard the song and fell in love with it. The song is the fifth track on the group’s second album, Moving, which was released on January 15, 1963. Although I was only seven I understood this song was about childhood and an ageless dragon and about staying forever young. Here I am 50 years later, and the song resonates with me and my generation, some (or many) of us who look back with fondness at our childhood. Childhood innocence. How to be child-like but not childish when getting old and aging, Magical Realism.

The sadness, and it is palpable and genuine, is that people born decades later have not enjoyed what we freely did—jumping over and considering all kinds of musical genres just for the sake of experimentation and enjoyment. Imagination is now taught and packaged as a course instead of living within us as part of human existence, a mistake in understanding, no doubt. We see the results in cheap imitations.

The voices of humanity, born generations ago, are dying off. Who (or what) is succeeding them?

Puff, the Magic Dragon
by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puff’s gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Mary Travers [November 9, 1936–September 16, 2009] died from leukemia in 2009; she was 72. Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey continue to perform as a duo.

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