ALBUM LINER NOTES
The Beatles have gone folk, Bob Dylan has gone pop, the young bearded set in long hair and levis are digging the Rolling Stones and even Bob Shelton no longer considers himself the folk music critic of The New York Times. He's now the pop music critic. In this era of new music electricity, Peter, Paul and Mary still strum their hollow core guitars and blend their vocal emotions to no less an audience and with no less a contagion of excitement. As one vernacular critic has pointed out, "Where it's at now, PP&M were there two years ago. They don't need no wires and plugs for their axes, they still blow your head." When Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary met Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones at a New York discotheque last Spring, they exchanged handshakes, looks of admiration and telephone numbers. They share some mutual fans, even if they don't play the same music.
The point of PP&M is that, although they maintain their regard for the folk tradition, they were conceived in contemporaneity and they remain a vital part of it. Their success and their greatness has risen, not out of their ability to say what the rest of their generation is trying to say, but out of their ability to say it better than anyone else. And their success and their greatness continue to grow, along with their audience. PP&M are today the most successful group in the folk music field, filling stadiums, auditoriums and hi-fi speakers all over the world. They're even being listened to in Russia, where the head of the English-speaking Department of Intourist, the nationalized travel bureau, considers his PP&M albums the most prized of his record collection.
They don't claim to be authentics. They couldn't possibly be. They're not negroes and they weren't born in the Ozarks, and it would be hypocritical of them to sing in any manner other than they do. What they claim is to be part of the present, and this claim continues to be ratified over and over again by the escalating acceptance of their audience - an audience, incidentally, which they didn't go searching for but which has found them. As far as PP&M are concerned, money is only a by-product to their real function, which is to sing the music they consider true to themselves and to disseminate the message it carries. What is the message? "We're not out to protest anything," Peter once told the Saturday Evening Post. "Our purpose is to affirm." Their message is the same as that of any artist through the centuries, a sermon of truth and beauty in the context of their times. And the fact that PP&M can appreciate the Rolling Stones or even the Beatles is added proof that PP&M are in touch with their times.
The Beatles, incidentally, call them Pizza, Pooh and Magpie. "Let's face it," Peter said one day, throwing his hands into the air as if he had a gun in his back. "Their magic is bigger than our magic." Maybe so, but it doesn't really make any difference. PP&M aren't failing at being the Beatles, they're succeeding at being PP&M. Every album they've cut so far has hit the top of the charts and this album is going to do the same. Whatever magic the Beatles have, it hasn't detracted from the magic of PP&M. And if you don't believe in magic, how come you're holding this album cover in your hands right now?