The 5 Best Peter, Paul and Mary Songs, Ranked

American folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary are shown during rehearsals at the London Palladium, Nov. 8, 1965, for the Royal Variety Performance in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. From left to right: Paul Stookey, Peter Yarrow, and Mary Travers (AP Photo/Bob Dear)

Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers provided a soundtrack to the politically and socially turbulent '60s as Peter, Paul and Mary.

The folk music trio emerged from New York's Greenwich Village scene to teach the masses about the great songwriters of the time (their recorded output includes covers of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Too Much of Nothing," "When the Ship Comes In" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'"). They also sprinkled in originals like Yarrow's Vietnam War protest song "Day is Done" and Stookey's "Christmas Dinner." All three members share credits for modern arrangements to several traditional folk songs.

The group split in 1970 and reunited by the '80s, with songs like "El Salvador" (a statement on the Reagan administration's military involvement in the Salvadorian Civil War) continuing the band's anti-war, pro-Civil Rights platform.

Read on for five great songs that best capture the greatness of Peter, Paul and Mary.

5. "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"

A Stookey co-write that pokes fun at the Mamas and the Papas, Donovan and The Beatles became a Top 10 pop hit and an oldies radio fixture.

4. "Lemon Tree"

The group's self-titled 1962 debut album's a sign of things to come from the folk revival. Fresh material (Stookey's "Early in the Morning") pairs well with modern takes on such older tunes as this song, credited to American singer-songwriter Will Holt and based on a Brazilian folk song.

3. "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)"

This Pete Seeger and Lee Hays co-write, penned in 1949 to support the Progressive movement, best represents the types of political songs revived by folk revivalists. It won Peter, Paul and Mary two Grammy awards in 1962 (Best Folk Recording and Best Performance by a Vocal Group).

Other Seeger originals recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary include "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."

2. "Leaving on a Jet Plane"

The trio's most gorgeous vocal performance aided the rise of "Leaving on a Jet Plane's" promising young writer, John Denver.

It became Peter, Paul and Mary's only No. 1 song when it topped both the pop and adult contemporary charts.

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1. "Puff, the Magic Dragon"

This one reminds us of the fun and fantastical folk songs we learned as kids.

A poem-turned-song that's simply about lost innocence still gets talked about in part because of overblown rumors that the story of Jackie Paper (as in rolling papers) and Puff (no explanation needed) is one big marijuana analogy.


Honorable mention songs: "Somagwaza/Hey Motswala," "Such is Love," "Mon Vrai Destin," "Monday Morning," "Big Boat," "River of Jordan," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "For Lovin' Me," "Come and Go With Me," "Hurry Sundown," "Blue Boa Constrictor," "Tell It on the Mountain," "Stewball," "Take Off Your Old Coat," "The Rising of the Moon," "And When I Die," "We Shall Overcome," "Pastures of Plenty" and Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land"

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The 5 Best Peter, Paul and Mary Songs, Ranked