Peter Yarrow is an international celebrity and musician that has been an advocate for civil rights, the environment, and human rights. He has used his power on this earth to make a positive change for many people - in many countries. Peter is aware of the work of Challenge Day and has supported it on several levels. He is respected and admired by many groups - particularly the baby boomer generation.
"Peter, Paul and Mary are folk singers." So stated the liner notes to the group's self-titled 1962 debut album. Today, this declaration seems redundant, because the term "folk music" has come to be virtually interchangeable with the group name, but when the words were written, they were meant less as a stylistic distinction than as a mission statement.
By the time Peter, Paul and Mary arrived on the scene, for the majority of America, folk was viewed merely as a side-bar to pop music which employed acoustic instruments. At this critical historic juncture, with the nation still recovering from the McCarthy era, the Civil Rights Movement taking shape, the Cold War heating up and a nascent spirit of activism in the air, Peter Yarrow, Noel (a.k.a. Paul) Stookey and Mary Travers came together to juxtapose these cross currents and thus to reclaim folk's potency as a social, cultural and political force. But few at the time could have realized how fervently and pervasively the group's message of humanity, hope and activism would be embraced.
"We do a song," says Yarrow, "if it moves us, if the songcraft is wonderful, if it says something important, if it amuses us and if we all feel good singing it."
Message songs are particularly problematic to write and perform because they can be overly directive, one-sided and preachy, but PP&M have managed to consistently avoid this pitfall. "The songs we choose invite the participation of the listener, who is central to finding a way of creating the life of the song at that listening," Yarrow explains. "It's the difference between poetry and didactic writing. One tells you, 'This is it,' and the other says, 'Let's find this together.' Anthemic songs are frequently so on the nose that there's no emotional thrust or dramatic tension. That's why 'Don't Laugh at Me' is so powerful, because you literally become engaged in the drama; you are part of both the perpetrator and the victim in this tale of disrespect and cruelty."