Thursday, September 17, 2009

Washed to the Sea

I don’t know if it's the way for everyone as they get older, but I find myself going back over bits and pieces of my childhood looking for clues as to how and why I became the person I am. Yesterday, a piece of my adolescence died in the form of Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.

My parents belonged to a record club in the mid sixties when I was growing up. You remember records, don’t you? They were those 12-inch diameter black vinyl discs that you had to flip over in order to listen to all the songs. My mother and father’s tastes must have been quite eclectic, or perhaps they forgot to send in the little postcard denying the current selection of the month, because there were a wide variety of different musical tastes represented in their collection.

Bobby Vinton, The Association, Englebert Humperdinck, Blood Sweat and Tears, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, The Everly Brothers, The Seekers, and The Tijuana Brass were some of the artists whose albums graced our record case. Eclectic, yes?

But the album that I was most entranced with, and listened to over and over again was Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1963 album, In the Wind. On the album, the song Hush-A-Bye would become a staple among the lullabies that I would sing to my own children years later (along with PP & M’s Album 1700 entries, Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, No Other Name and I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog).

It was, however, Bob Dylan’s song, Blowin in the Wind that captured most of my attention. The antiwar song sung with a crystal brilliant clarity by Mary Travers became a favorite, a song to memorize and sing. Its quiet protest message penetrated the selfish layer of an adolescent brain, and became a part of my own mantra, my own raised social consciousness, my own antiwar sentiments. Sentiments I wished I had been more vocal about six years ago.

It’s funny how a series of little things turn into your life. Not those wild huge moments, though there certainly have been those, but small moments like tiny drops of liquid that build until you have enough to make a wave - crashing then receding back into the sea. Mary Travers’ recession began yesterday. For those, like me, who loved her voice, her songs, her clear elegant protests, we hold onto the wave that her music inspired.