It is somewhat of a standing joke about forgetfulness among the older folk. I used to think those jokes were funny. Now, well, not so much. I just can’t remember why….
Age, however, isn’t the only thing that makes people forgetful. Substances can do it, too. Just last night we watched a show (something like “Extra” or “Inside Edition”) about a young woman who was arrested, had her hands cuffed behind her back, and she was placed in the back seat of a police car. Somehow, even with her hands behind her back, she managed to crawl through the small opening between the back and front seat while the officer was outside the car, get behind the wheel and drive off (using her fingertips and knees to steer) at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
She eventually was caught and made the statement the next morning, “I don’t remember a thing about it.” Was she telling the truth? Who knows?
Anyway, I thought this was a rather clever little sign…
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1962, Peter, Paul and Mary signed their first recording contract with Warner Brothers – a label they still worked with over 50 years later. They didn’t revolutionize folk music the way Bob Dylan did. Dylan’s songwriting fundamentally altered and the folk idiom itself, while Peter, Paul and Mary didn’t even write their own material. They were good-looking, crowd-pleasing performers first and foremost—hand-selected and molded for success by a Greenwich Village impresario named Albert Grossman. Yet in their good-looking, crowd-pleasing way, Peter, Paul and Mary helped make Dylan’s revolution possible, both by popularizing his songs and by proving the commercial potential of “serious” folk music in doing so.
Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers ran in the same Greenwich Village circles, but had never performed together before Albert Grossman came along. Grossman, a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival, was a controversial figure on theNew York folk scene—a man openly seeking to commercialize a movement that wore its self-serious leftist political roots on its sleeve. Grossman recognized commercial potential in the “message songs” he was hearing in famous Village venues like Gerde’s Folk City, if only he could combine the music of brilliant songwriters like Pete Seeger with the non-threatening appeal of singers like the Kingston Trio.
Pete Seeger’s former group, the Weavers, had enjoyed enormous success in the early-1950s with hits like “Goodnight Irene,” until their leftist background derailed their career during the Red Scare. The downfall of the Weavers led to a split within the nascent folk revival—a split between political folk that had no chance for commercial success and entertaining folk that was utterly apolitical. Grossman believed that he could span that divide with a group whose youthful good looks and non-threatening demeanor would make subtly political folk music acceptable within the popular mainstream. Enter Peter, Paul and Mary and songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” both from their debut album in 1962. In 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary would release their biggest hit ever: “Blowin’ in the Wind,” written by a new client of Grossman’s named Bob Dylan. It was the first sample of Dylan’s work that most of the world would ever hear.
Mary Travers passed away in 2009.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The mines of South Africa can descend as far as 12,000 feet and reach temperatures of 130°F. To produce an ounce of gold requires 38 man hours, 1,400 gallons of water, enough electricity to run a large house for ten days, and chemicals such as cyanide, acids, lead, borax, and lime. In order to extract South Africa’s yearly output of 500 tons of gold, nearly 70 million tons of earth are raised and milled.