Based on the online obituary’s time stamp, she died just a short while earlier this Wednesday evening, but the earthy, authentic voice of Mary Travers of “Peter, Paul, and Mary” fame will continue to live on for some time, and not just in the trio’s videos on YouTube either.
Among the stories told online Wednesday night, Ms. Travers’ obituary, posted just twelve minutes ago on The New York Times website, highlights the challenge of marketing the folksy musical group to mainstream American audiences during the early 1960s, given the trio’s participation in civil rights and anti-war activities. The group performed in the 1963 March on Washington and joined the voting-rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, according to The Times obituary.
A political news item in another timely publication’s website across the Atlantic, The (London) Times, is seemingly unrelated. “Race, the most inflammatory theme in American politics,” is how this one begins. The story goes on to discuss former President Jimmy Carter’s recently related view of what’s behind the nation’s current health care legislative saga. The opinions of others get thrown into the mix. It all sounds a bit complicated to me, at this hour, and not very fresh, at that.
As I start to doze again this evening, I’m drawn back to those three beatnik singers from the ’60s, their message back then, her death tonight, their dream going forward. They made it all sound so simple, didn’t they? The way they sang, back in that decade when Kennedys and a King were shot and killed, when we were a nation of war (over there, down there, within here), when black and white were coming to terms with their own equalities and inequalities. These three white children singing to us about a dragon and a little boy, a hammer and a bell, the wind makin’ that blowin’ sound … risking their careers and futures on principles, maybe jeopardizing even their access to health care? Those ’60s were strange times, indeed!
I think those three folk musicians just wanted us to sing with them; to see the world in folksy, simple terms; to enjoy it (and sexy Mary’s harmonious femininity!), and to help others enjoy our world, before it’s all too late for anyone.
Perhaps that’s what it’s all about. That’s the lesson learned in tonight’s obituary about this single life well-spent. “Nite, ’nite, sleep well,” I say to y’all. But before I do, I’m going back to YouTube, where Ms. Travers awaits. She’s got a dragon and a little boy waiting for me there, a hammer and a bell with a message I need to be reminded about before I dream, and there’s that wind, again, makin’ that blowin’ sound. This time, it sounds vaguely like the words, “health care.”