"Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn’t die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemakers’ time is at hand
Don’t let the light go out
It’s lasted for so many years
Don’t let light go out
Let it shine through our love and our tears."*
- and the stirring music, with all the voices singing (PP&M were joined by the New York Choral Society) that made it so ... for want of a better word ... uplifting. Music has that amazing power to rouse us.
And immediately afterwards came the hauntingly beautiful “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” I like the Kingston’s Trio’s version as well, but the PP&M version has the benefit of the ineffable sadness of Mary Travers’ falling voice on “Oh, when will they ever learn?” And of course, we don’t learn. Or rather, too many of us don’t learn.
And then I was treated to the delightful cheerfulness, and silliness, of three of PP&M’s children’s songs in a row. The one entitled “Inside” soon had the kids in the audience singing along on the chorus – “Inside, inside, that’s the most important part, inside, inside, that’s the place you have to start, inside, inside, that’s where you find the heart of the matter” – and after singing about pies (you don’t know which one you’ll like best if you eat just the crust), and birthday presents (you can’t know which will be your favorite ‘til you unwrap them), PP&M sing about every boy and girl being special – “just how we know I’ll bet you guess...we took the time to look—” a tiny pause and then all the kids called out “Inside!” I saw the concert that this was performed at a number of years ago, on the PBS station in Abilene, and it was delightful, seeing all the kids get into singing “Inside, inside, that’s the most important part...”
My CD moved on to the next song and I was listening to the charmer, “The Marvelous Toy,” with all the sound effects (“it went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped and whrrrr when it stood still. I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.”)
And finally, in “Right Field,” there was the triumph of the little kid who’s always stuck out in the aforementioned hinterland in baseball games, because he’s slow and clumsy, until one day when he comes out of his usual daydreaming to find everybody yelling and looking at him – “they point to the sky and I look up above, and a baseball falls into my gloooove.” Big burst of applause from the audience, and this solitary listener laughed out loud. PP&M’s children’s songs make children, and grown-up children, feel good about themselves, and the world.
So thank you, Peter, Paul and Mary, for all the lovely music you’ve put out there in the world, and for brightening my breakfast on a grey, rainy day.
*Light One Candle, Peter Yarrow, c1983 Silver Dawn Music