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The defining act of [[TheSixties the 1960s]] [[FolkMusic folk boom]], and one of the most important musical acts of the decade in general, Peter, Paul and Mary were an act who not only popularized many of the greatest folk standards of the 20th century, but who’s music was a key element of the decade’s civil rights movement and continues to enjoy success and relevance to this day.

Singer/comedian Noel “Paul” Stookey (b. December 30th, 1937) and vocalist Mary Travers (b. November 9th, 1936, d. September 16th, 2009) met on the nightclub circuit in [=SoHo=] in the early 1960s and began writing and performing songs together. They were later introduced to singer/songwriter Peter Yarrow ( b. May 31st, 1938), then a teaching assistant and occasional folk singer, by future Music/BobDylan manager Albert Grossman when Yarrow appeared on a PBS special about folk music. Grossman suggested they form a “folk supergroup” as a SpiritualSuccessor to the late 40s folk boom started by the liked of The Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger and had given way to a wave of “pop folk” in the last few years. Yarrow agreed and, after Stookey decided to [[StageName go by his middle name of Paul]], [[AddedAlliterativeAppeal Peter, Paul]] and Mary was born.

Following hugely successful appearances in Greenwich Village, the trio's debut SelfTitledAlbum appeared in 1962, featuring their BreakthroughHit, a [[CoverVersion cover]] of the Pete Seeger-penned “If I Had A Hammer.” Both established PP&M’s trademark style of staunchly leftist (albeit not-threatening) sociopolitical lyrics wrapped in [[EarWorm catchy melodies]] and gorgeous three-part harmonies, giving them mainstream appeal without needing to sacrifice their messages. Changing political tides meant [[RealitySubtext a more liberal American public who would more readily accept the group’s songs]] than the conservatives who dismissed their predecessors (being signed to Creator/WarnerBrosRecords didn’t hurt either).

PP&M’s next record, '’Moving,'' featured undoubtably the group’s most beloved song, the children’s classic “Music/PuffTheMagicDragon.” It also established another of the group’s trademarks: covering lots and lots of Bob Dylan songs, arguably [[UrExample beginning the trend]] of Dylan’s biting social commentary [[CoveredUp finding greater success in more capable performers]] (read: people who’s voices didn’t sound like sandpaper on one’s ear). Their cover of “Blowin’ In The Wind” was not only a massive hit, reaching #2 on the charts, which [[ColbertBump brought Dylan into the mainstream]], but embodied the zeitgeist of political activism in 1960s America to a T as the UsefulNotes/CivilRightsMovement was gaining momentum. The group would give a [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome career-defining performance]] of the song at the March on Washington, immediately following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech.

In addition to PP&M’s socially conscious lyrics, the trio were also well known for being quite the humorists, frequently [[SelfDeprecatingHumor poking fun at themselves]] and letting Stookey perform standup during concerts. When rock n’ roll began eclipsing folk in the later part of the decade, they bit back with the deeply satirical StealthInsult track “[[BlatantLies I Dig Rock n’ Roll Music]]” (the song famously included [[TakeThat a dig]] at Music/TheMamasAndThePapas, who, at the time, were accused of [[FollowTheLeader being a ripoff of PP&M]]).

The group became more directly politically active in the later part of the 60s, appearing at the White House on behalf of Senator Eugene [=McCarthy=]’s antiwar campaign (Yarrow would end up marrying [=McCarthy=]’s daughter shortly thereafter). [=McCarthy=]’s failure, which tragically, and eerily, coincided with the murders of both MLK and Robert F. Kennedy signaled the EndOfAnEra and the group took a hiatus in 1970 after [[MilestoneCelebration celebrating their ten-year anniversary]] with a GreatestHitsAlbum. All three would have modest solo careers, with Stookey's "Wedding Song (And There Is Love)" becoming a minor hit.

After a couple of failed reunions, the group reformed proper in the 80s, and at the best possible time: the new political climate proposed by the UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan administration threatened to do away with the very human rights they had fought to protect for twenty years prior, and [[ValuesResonance their songs were needed more than ever]]. The next fifteen years saw a handful of new albums, along with various all-star folk concerts, albums and television specials, with the trio’s songs [[StillGotIt just as socially aware as ever]]. The act’s final studio album, ''In These Times,'' appeared in 2006 and featured a cover of Mark Wills’ country hit “Don’t Laugh At Me,” which Yarrow would later use as the basis for a successful anti-bullying campaign.

By this point, Mary Travers had been living with leukemia for two years and was [[TheShowMustGoOn performing concerts with an oxygen mask on standby]]. She died from complications from the illness three years later, effective [[AuthorExistenceFailure ending the group permanently]] after a prolific 50 year career.

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!!"If I had a trope list/I'd edit in the morning/I'd edit in the evening/All over this la-and!"
* TheCastShowOff: ''In Concert'' allows Paul Stookey a chance to perform some of his stand-up routine and show off his uncanny ability for automobile sound effects on their cover of Music/WoodyGuthrie's "Car-Car."
* CoverVersion: About half of their catalogue, mostly Music/BobDylan songs (they shared a manager with him).
* DownerEnding: "Music/PuffTheMagicDragon" is one of the most famous (and [[TearJerker notorious]]) examples in all of 20th century music.
* FolkMusic: One of the greatest and most important acts of the genre.
* FollowTheLeader: A handful of other folk pop acts emerged in the wake of their success, most notably Music/PhilOchs, who's lyrics were considered too biting for a pop arrangement, and Music/TheMamasAndThePapas, who, despite some success, were written off as a [[LighterAndSofter watered-down]] Peter, Paul and Mary.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Acknowledged in "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music"
-->''But if I really say it''
-->''[[{{Bowdlerize}} The radio won't play it]]''
-->''Unless I lay in between the lines''
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Mostly between 3 and 4. The political songs were righteous, but accessible, while the children's songs usually had a tinge of sadness to them.
* MsFanservice: Mary Travers. Of corse, she had the pipes to back it up.
* ProtestSong: Their bread-and-butter. Notable examples include "If I Had A Hammer," "Blowin' In The Wind," and "500 Miles."
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: '''''FAR''''' on the idealistic side. Even their most somber songs had undertones of hope that things would get better.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple
* SpiritualSuccessor: To the folk revival of the late 1940s started by acts like Pete Seeger and The Kingston Trio, which had fizzled out at the beginning of the 1950s when conservative America dismissed their overtly liberal lyrics.
* StealthInsult[=/=]StealthParody: "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music."
* TakeThat: "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music" is, well, a [[StealthPun dig]] at rock n' music, which Yarrow and Travers dismissed as being style over substance.
* ThreeChordsAndTheTruth
* VocalEvolution: Their harmonies gradually evolved from "angelic" to "weather worn" with age.
* VocalTagTeam: All three members sung their equal share.