We had the great privilege and fun of interviewing Noel Paul Stookey yesterday, via Zoom, for our new video series soon to premiere, American Songwriter’s Songlife. We spoke about his great new album, Just Causes, on which he has designated each song to benefit a different cause.
Yesterday he played part of “Revolution” for us, his new song about a revolution of kindness, when people learn to invest more kindness into our world. Again, it’s about harmony.
We spoke about the new album, but he also generously answered our questions about his history, and the origins of Peter, Paul & Mary. It was Albert Grossman, who managed Dylan and others, who brought these three solo musicians together. Grossman asked him if he would consider joining a group, He said no.
But that changed when Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers came to his NYC apartment to test it out, and hear the sound of their three voices together.
That singing was all on one song. And that song, revealed here now not for the first time, was:
“Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
That’s right. The nursery rhyme kid’s song.
“It’s the only song we all knew,” Noel said.
They sang it in every configuration, to determine who the lead singer of this group was, and who would sing the back-up. Each of them sang melody, as the others harmonized.
That’s when the revelation came: Which was that when Mary sang lead, it sounded great. But it also sounded great when Peter did, and also when Paul did. It was this realization that defined the group. They were a trio of equals. Yet, as signified by the name of the group, they were individuals. Each of them had a unique character which came across in songs and in shows.
And which united in perfect harmony.