Thursday, September 17, 2009

RIP Mary Travers

The NYT asks this morning, quite correctly sadly, if this has been a "summer of celebrity deaths." Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Les Paul, Ellie Greenwich, Robert Novak, Don Hewitt, Edward Kennedy ... and on and on. Late last night, and as the North Hemisphere summer of 2009 comes to its setting, we learned that Mary Travers, one-third of Peter, Paul and Mary, died at 72 after a very long and public battle with leukemia.

No, the number of celebrities was probably the same as in any season. It's the impact that all of these individuals had on society, individually and collectively, that has made this a miserable summer on top of the mostly upside down weather we had -- scorching in the Yukon and Alaska, relatively cool in the Northeast.

As for Travers herself -- wow, what a voice. Her threesome with Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow wrote or covered the music that defined defiance against civil rights violations in the South and the insanity of the Vietnamese Conflict. In school, my classmates and I learned their songs. Concerts they performed in later years would often have three generations of "kids" showing up; I think only the Rolling Stones can also claim that distinction on a consistent basis. Long after people ask, "Who the heck were Kanye West and Britney Spears?" -- they will still know who PP&M were and what they did.

Rest in peace, ma'am -- you've now joined "one hell of a band" on the other side, as Bill Medley would say.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter, Paul & Mary's songs inspired be to be a better person, to try to change the world when that seemed impossible, and made me aware of inequities that, as a teacher, I could explain to my students. I saw them in concert as often as possible, and took my children to see them several times. I have purchased their albums, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now have them loaded on my Ipod.
I will never forget seeing them after each concert, when they would come out back and visit with the crowds, give autographs, and talk with people who attended their concerts. Can you imagine the divas of today doing this?

PP&M changed my life, and Mary's strong voice rang out loud and true. Our loss is heaven's gain. You will be missed