Happy 75th birthday to Peter Yarrow, one-third of the folk singin’, protest slangin’ Peter, Paul, and Mary. From marching for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. to defending the meaning behind his hit “Puff the Magic Dragon” (it is about the loss of childhood imagination, it is not about the loss of inhibition from smoking weed), Yarrow is that perfect blend of guitarist and activist that tweens at Jewish summer camps nationwide have long aspired to become.
Even today, Yarrow is using his music to help out. On May 29, he held a benefit concert in New York City, “An Afternoon with Peter Yarrow,” to raise money for a four-year-old boy from New Jersey in need of a bone marrow transplant. In a 2004 interview with the Jewish Journal, Yarrow hat-tipped his Jewish roots for his benevolent way of life:
As a Jew and a human being, I believe I have a moral imperative to fight injustice, and I’ve seen how folk music can help do that. Its power is that it allows people to realize that we should care about one another and that we should all do our part.
While it’s not the same experience as watching Yarrow live at The Bitter End in the sixties (“You had to be there,” as my mother would say), here he is singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” with Stav Shaffir, an Israeli member of the Knesset.
Previous: Peter Yarrow’s Duet With Stav Shaffir