Puff The Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………….on March 16th of 1963 Peter, Paul And Mary’s “Puff The Magic Dragon” is released in the US, where it will reach #2. Although banned by some radio stations who thought the song was about drugs, it is really just a story about a little boy growing up, according to its writer, Peter Yarrow. He wrote this in 1958 before he joined the group. He wrote it after coming home and seeing a poem on his typewriter with words about the dragon. He based his song on this poem, which was written by Lenny Lipton. A few years later when this became a hit, Yarrow found Lipton and gave him half the songwriting credit. Lipton, who was a camp counselor when Yarrow found him, gets extensive royalties from the song. Lipton was feeling homesick when he wrote it. One day, he was on his way to dinner at a friend’s house, and was a little early, so he stopped at the library and happened to read some Ogden Nash poems. The title of the poem that grabbed him was The Tale Of Custard The Dragon, which is about a “Really-o Truly-o Dragon.” Lipton was friends with Peter Yarrow’s housemate when they were all students at Cornell University. On the walk from Cornell’s library to the friend’s house (where he was to eat dinner), he wrote the poem, which was about the loss of childhood. Peter, Paul and Mary formed in 1961, and this song was always part of their repertoire, although they didn’t record it until their second album, Moving, was released in early 1963. The first concerts of Peter, Paul, and Mary consisted of a solo set by each of the men, followed by a dozen songs sung as a trio, which is when they performed “Puff.” The folk ballad was not released as a single in the UK.