One element I enjoy capturing for the NAMM Oral History collection is the social aspects of the music that represents an artist. A rather complete example of this is the music and social times of Peter Yarrow.
The folk music movement of the 1960s may not have started to create social change, but it did bring about change. Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan saw to it, as did Peter, Paul, and Mary. The music was the driving force to push for changes in areas that needed to be brought to the attention of policymakers, politicians, and the public. Peter was outraged when he first saw a drinking fountain that did not allow an African American to drink from. Peter was angered by the young men being drafted and shipped off to Vietnam to kill and be killed while still too young to vote. He put his thoughts to music and provided anthems, as Peter Seeger and Bob Dylan did, that gave people the song to sing! Part of Peter's message in using songs to bring about social change is that we need to keep singing! Today we need to sing.
He wrote and we sang: Day is Done!
He wrote and we sang: The Children Are Listening!
He wrote and we sang: Light One Candle!
When I asked him if his tireless efforts to end the war in Vietnam made a difference he picked up his guitar and sang a song he wrote about seeking the answer to that very question for himself. We must always try and fight for what we believe. That fight for peace and for understanding and for love and compassion may very well be the reason we have music to connect one soul to another.
Knowing how long and hard Peter has sung for the good causes and for the best of reasons is the motivation for me to sing. It a great reason for you to sing too!
Click here to view a music-filled segment of our interview with Peter.
Dan Del Fiorentino
NAMM Music Historian