Peter, Paul Honor Mary Travers One Year After Her Passing
Mary is gone, but Peter and Paul remain something of a going concern -- and certainly, they plan to keep memories of their late comrade alive.
Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey -- along with longtime Peter, Paul and Mary musical director Robert DeCormier -- oversaw the release earlier this year of "Peter, Paul and Mary with Symphony Orchestra: The Prague Sessions," a 14-song collection that blended concert performances by the trio with newly recorded backing by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. In November they'll release a book/CD interpretation of "The Night Before Christmas," featuring Mary Travers narrating the 1823 Clement C. Moore poem and a score by Yarrow and Stookey.
And Yarrow says there may be more music from the trio in the offing. "The truth of the matter is we've got 15, 20 songs we used to perform that we never put on an album," Yarrow tells Billboard.com. "So it's quite possible we may do an album that brings those to the public."
But Yarrow says he and Stookey are also "still suffering with the mourning process" after Travers' September 2009 death from leukemia at the age of 72. We feel like we have her kind of presence hanging over us; I remember when we finished ['The Prague Sessions'], one of my associates said to me, 'Peter, Mary would be proud.' That's kind of the bar we've set for anything we do from here on out, I think."
Yarrow, who is publishing "The Night Before Christmas" on his own Peter Yarrow Books imprint, says that Travers recorded her narration "less than a month before she passed away. I promised her we would create a great bed of music, and we did. People who hear it say, 'That is going to be a classic.' But this created a real emotional place for Noel and me because it meant so much for it to be right that we had to struggle with it. We had conceptually different places that we wanted to go with it, and to resolve that we realized our discussions were tinged with our mourning Mary; we both desperately wanted it to be not just really right and good, but satisfying and right for her."
Meanwhile, Yarrow and Stookey are carrying on as a duo, playing "not a lot of concerts, but some concerts" -- including a memorial benefit Sept. 24 in Dearborn, Mich., Be The Match Registry of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program.
"There will never be another Mary," Yarrow says. "Mary was Mary. It's not like Regis and 'Who's the new Kathie Lee?' You just don't do it. So I think what Noel and I will do will be solidity, but it will not be Peter, Paul and Mary. It will be the music carried on...not in memory of Mary, but in terms of understanding that this music has had a great effect and the world still needs this music, so we will continue to play it."