Leaving on a Jet Plane ~ Peter, Paul and Mary

Peter, Paul and Mary were an American folk-singing trio who ultimately became one of the biggest acts of the 1960s. The trio was composed of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers.

Mary Travers has said she was influenced by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers. In the documentary Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On – A Musical Legacy members of The Weavers discuss how Peter, Paul and Mary took over the torch of the social commentary of folk music in the 1960s. The group paid tribute to some of their folk mentors and contemporaries in their “Lifeline Concert” in 2004.

Manager Albert Grossman created Peter, Paul and Mary in 1961, after auditioning several singers in the New York folk scene. After rehearsing them out of town in Miami, Grossman booked them into The Bitter End, a coffee house and popular folk music venue in New York City’s Greenwich Village. They recorded their first album, Peter, Paul and Mary, the following year. It included “500 Miles”, “Lemon Tree”, and the Pete Seeger hit tunes “If I Had a Hammer” (subtitled “(The Hammer Song)”) and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”. The album was listed in the Billboard Magazine Top Ten for 10 months, including seven weeks in the #1 position. It remained a main catalog-seller for decades to come, eventually selling over two million copies, earning Double Platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States alone.

The group made its television debut in either 1961 or 1962 on the PM East/PM West talk show hosted by Mike Wallace and Joyce Davidson. By 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary had recorded three albums. All three were in the Top Ten the week of President Kennedy’s assassination.

In 1963 the group also released “Puff the Magic Dragon”, with music by Yarrow and words based on a poem that had been written by a fellow student at Cornell, Leonard Lipton. Despite urban myths that insist the song is filled with drug references, it is actually about the lost innocence of childhood. On January 14, 1964 they performed on the Jack Benny television program, with the Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ In the Wind”.

That year the group performed “If I Had a Hammer” at the 1963 March on Washington, best remembered for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. One of their biggest hit singles was the Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind”. They also sang other Bob Dylan songs, such as: “The Times They Are a-Changin’”; “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”; and “When the Ship Comes In”, perhaps their most memorable piece. Their manager, Albert Grossman, was also Dylan’s manager. Their success with Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” aided Dylan’s “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” album into the Top 30. (It had been released four months earlier.)

The trio broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers, but found little of the success which they had experienced as a group-although Stookey’s “The Wedding Song (There is Love)” (written for Yarrow’s marriage to Marybeth McCarthy, the niece of senator Eugene McCarthy) was a hit and has become a wedding standard since its 1971 release.

In 1978, they reunited for a concert to protest against nuclear energy, and continued to record albums together and tour, playing around 45 shows a year, until the 2009 death of Mary Travers.[4]

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

The trio were prolific political activists for their involvement in the peace movement and other causes. They were awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience on September 1, 1990.[5]

In 2004, Travers was diagnosed with leukemia, leading to the cancellation of the remaining tour dates for that year. She received a bone marrow transplant. She and the rest of the trio resumed their concert tour on December 9, 2005 with a holiday performance at Carnegie Hall.

Peter, Paul and Mary received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.

The trio sang in Mitchell, South Dakota, for the George and Eleanor McGovern Library and Center for Leadership dedication concert on October 5, 2006.

The trio canceled several dates of their summer 2007 tour, as Mary took longer than expected to recover from back surgery and later had to undergo a second surgery, further postponing the tour.[4]

Travers was unable to perform on the trio’s tour in summer 2009 due to her leukemia, but Peter and Paul performed the scheduled dates as a duo, calling the show “Peter & Paul Celebrate Mary and 5 Decades of Friendship.”

The Peter, Paul and Mary trio came to an end on September 16, 2009, when Mary Travers died at age 72 of complications from chemotherapy, following treatment for leukemia.  It was the same year (2009) they were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Leaving on a jet Plane

Leaving on a Jet Plane” is a song written by John Denver in 1966 and most famously recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The original title of the song was “Oh Babe I Hate To Go” but Denver’s then producer, Milt Okun, convinced him to change the title. The song was initially recorded in 1967 by the Chad Mitchell Trio, and later that same year by Spanky and Our Gang. Peter, Paul and Mary’s version first appeared on their 1967 Album 1700; however, it did not become a hit until they released it as a single in 1969. It turned out to be their biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It was the second to last #1 single of the 1960s. The song also spent three weeks atop the easy listening chart .

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All my bags are packed I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’ it’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’ he’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Every place I go, I’ll think of you
Every song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time let me kiss you
Close your eyes I’ll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

  • Audio from the 1967 album, Album 1700:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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