Enduring Music for Children of All Ages

By Jones, Warren Puffer | Montessori Life, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Enduring Music for Children of All Ages


Jones, Warren Puffer, Montessori Life


Enduring Music for Children of All Ages Peter, Paul and Mommy Peter, Paul & Mary, Warner Bros. 1969, $16.98

The trio of Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers together make up Peter, Paul & Mary, one of the most enduring musical groups from the folk era of the 1960s. In 1969, they released their tenth album, the LP entitled Peter, Paul and Mommy, now available on compact disc from Warner Brothers.

Though the folk music tradition had long been associated with traditional children's tunes, Peter, Paul & Mary were one of the first groups to produce a full LP intended for children. The album, released in May of 1969, soon reached #12 on the Billboard charts, earned a Grammy award for Best Children's Album, and has since gone gold, making it one of the most popular children's albums ever.

Peter, Paul and Mommy was recorded in front of an audience of children, who can be heard singing along on many tracks. The album doesn't have the feeling of a produced concert performance, the way many recent live children's albums do. All the songs employ only guitar and banjo as accompaniment, and the children's singing has an unrehearsed quality that makes you believe you're listening in on a sing-along in the next room. The immediacy of the trio of voices is so captivating precisely because the recording is as direct as possible, capturing the intimacy of the live performance.

The album begins with a Tom Paxton song, "The Marvelous Toy," which displays the energy of the folk trio. Peter, Paul & Mary buzz and whir with their voices as they tell the story of an unidentifiable but fascinating toy that has passed through generations. The trio sings alternately in unison and in tight harmony, trading lines from the verses, with the banjo and guitar chugging along constantly underneath.

Several of the songs on the album are traditional tunes adapted for this distinct combination of voices. The lullaby "All Through the Night" is beautifully set with lilting pairs of voices and an elongated second verse that lets the flow of the melody shine. …

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