Mary Travers, More Than A Pop Musician

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Host Neal Conan acknowledges that many Peter, Paul & Mary songs can sound too sweet. However, he remembers the late Mary Travers for the song he believes stands the test of time, "Too Much Of Nothing," and highlights the group's commitment to folk music and activism.


As you've probably heard by now, leukemia claimed Mary Travers last night, and you've probably heard snippets all day from the Peter Paul & Mary songbook. Those of us of a certain age have a difficult time explaining this to younger colleagues. They hear "Puff the Magic Dragon" and roll their eyes. Peter Paul & Mary played a critical part in the folk revival in the 1960s. They helped introduce us all to Bob Dylan.

And while they were slightly uncomfortable with their role as pop music hit makers, they never let their success sway them from a commitment to social activism and from the causes of their times, civil rights and the war in Vietnam.

Still, even those whose ears are colored by nostalgic can have a hard time with those sweet, earnest harmonies. Their version of "Blowing in the Wind" or "Leaving on a Jet Plane" can put your teeth on edge.

Some of their tunes are pretty and affecting, and there is one that absolutely stands the test of time. Again, they benefit from words and music by Bob Dylan. This, from 1967.

(Soundbite of song, "Too Much of Nothing")

PETER PAUL & MARY (Folk Singers): (Singing) Too much of nothin' can make a man feel ill at ease. One man's temper might rise, while the other man's temper might freeze. In the days of long confessions, we cannot mock a soul. When there's too much of nothin', no one has control. Say hello to Valerie, say hello to Marion. Send them all my salary on the waters of oblivion. Too much of nothin' can make a man abuse a king. He can walk the streets and boast like most but he don't know a thing. It's all been done before, it's all been written in the book. But when it's too much of nothin', nobody should look. Say hello to Valerie, say hello to Marion. Send them all my salary on the waters of oblivion. Too much of nothin' can turn a man into a liar. It can cause some man to sleep on nails, another man to eat fire. Everybody's doin' somethin' I heard it in a dream. But when there's too much of nothing it just makes a fella mean. Say hello to Valerie, say hello to Marion. Send them all my salary on the waters of oblivion.

CONAN: "Too Much of Nothing," Peter Paul & Mary from 1967. Mary Traverse died yesterday at the age of 72.

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