Mary Travers Quotes

Mary Allin Travers, 1936 – 2009

Born: 9 November 1936, Louisville, Kentucky
Died: 16 September 2009, Danbury, Connecticut

Travers’ family moved to New York’s Greenwich Village when she was two. She attended the Little Red School but was expelled in her junior year, then graduated from Elisabeth Irwin High School. While there she sang with the “Song Swappers”, a group that recorded four albums with Pete Seeger in 1955. Albert Grossman, Peter Yarrow’s manager, was looking to put together a group that would be an updated Weavers. After he met with Mary, she introduced Grossman and Yarrow to Noel Paul Stookey; Peter Paul and Mary was formed in 1961 and had a series of major folk hits including “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “If I Had a Hammer”, and “Puff, the Magic Dragon”. Grossman felt it would add to Mary’s mysterious allure if she didn’t speak on stage, so quotes are hard to find. The group broke up in 1970, with all three recording individually, but regrouped in 1978 and toured extensively until Travers was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 2004. She died from complications related to chemotherapy.

Mary Travers quotes:

All of us are subject to being passive to the social ills around us. It’s a struggle not to become, by staying silent, an accomplice.
    Mary Travers

Each of us has a talent that’s pivotal for the group. Peter is a patient and meticulous worker, especially when it comes to sound quality, and that commitment to excellence is what yields the best possible environment in which to be creative. Noel has a relaxed sensibility, and that’s a very calming influence when it comes to adjusting to difficult situations, which happen all the time. Of course, both are talented songwriters as well. I think I bring a spontaneity, an ability to connect with them emotionally and focus our attention on having a musical conversation. I believe that if we can have that conversation, then the audience will feel included.
    Mary Travers

Folk music has a sort of a bubbling-under quality. The stream runs through the cultural consciousness, and whether or not it’s on the radio is not the issue. Folk music is always there.
    Mary Travers

Folk music has always contained a concern for the human condition. And since it brings people into it from different points of view, that can help illuminate what a consensus might be to important issues.
    Mary Travers

I was raised on Josh White, the Weavers and Pete Seeger. The music was everywhere. You’d go to a party at somebody’s apartment and there would be fifty people there, singing well into the night.
    Mary Travers

I was raised to believe that everybody has a responsibility to their community and I use the word very loosely. It’s a big community. If I get recognized in the middle of the Sinai Desert I have a big community.
    Mary Travers

If we are going to teach the world to stop hating the different, the other, then we’re going to have to start with children.
    Mary Travers

If you’re serious about singing or acting, which are two art forms that get repetitive, the way to keep the music fresh is to recognize that it is totally impossible for it to ever be the same, night after night. You open your mouth and you’d like a certain sound to come out of it, but it doesn’t always come out exactly like you thought it was going to come out!
    Mary Travers

In our concerts, the audience feels a sense of community and continuity. Because folk music is non-ageist, it tends to bind families together. It’s lovely to look out at the audience and see a parent hug their little boy or little girl during a song from their college years, and to see that the child knows the words. That sense of sharing feeds back to the artist, and it’s one of the joys of having a long career. It’s also why the music doesn’t get old.
    Mary Travers

It is one thing to read about the world, but quite another to see and hear for oneself.
    Mary Travers

It was like a miracle. I’m just feeling fabulous. What’s incredible is someone has given your life back. I’m out in the garden today. This time last year I was looking out a window at a hospital.
    Mary Travers

Looking out at this quarter of a million people,… I truly believed, at that moment, it was possible that human beings could join together to make a positive social change.
    Mary Travers

People say to us, ‘Oh, I grew up with your music,’ and we often say, sotto voce, ‘So did we.’
    Mary Travers

Protest is inherent to this system.
    Mary Travers

Singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ all the places we’ve been, it takes on a different meaning everywhere. When you sing the line, ‘How many years can a people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?’ in a prison yard for political prisoners in El Salvador; if you have sung it to a group of union organizers, who have all been in jail, in South Korea; if you’ve sung to Jews in the Soviet Union who have been refused exit visas; if you’ve sung it with Bishop Tutu protesting apartheid, the song breathes, it lives, it has a contemporary currency.
    Mary Travers

  • The fact that there are singer-songwriters dealing with substantive issues is encouraging. It’s important for young people to perceive that there are acceptable avenues of dissent, because we live in a world where dissent is hard-pressed; treated as if it were unpatriotic. I’ve always liked the concept of the loyal opposition. It allows for dissent to be a respectable part of the whole.
        Mary Travers
  • There has to be a certain amount of love just in order for you to survive together. I think a lot of groups have gone down the tubes because they were not able to relate to one another.
        Mary Travers
  • We hadn’t sung together in six years. We realized that we’d missed each other personally and musically, so we decided to try a limited reunion tour. We wanted to work together enough to have it be a meaningful part of our lives, but not so much that it wouldn’t be fun.
        Mary Travers
  • We’ve always been involved with issues that deal with the fundamental human rights of people, whether that means the right to political freedom or the right to breathe air that’s clean.
        Mary Travers
  • We’ve learned that it will take more than one generation to bring about change. The fight for civil rights has developed into a broader concern for human rights, and that encompasses a great many people and countries. Those of us who live in a democracy have a responsibility to be the voice for those whose voices are stilled.
        Mary Travers
  • When the fad changed from folk to rock, they didn’t take along any good writers.
        Mary Travers
  • While others of my peer group were rejecting the values of their parents, I was in the then unfashionable position of sharing mine with the woman who had taught me. I remember at Selma, actor Dennis Hopper saying to me, ‘That’s your mother? How hip.’ I thought so.
        Mary Travers

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