Saturday, November 7, 2009

Puff the Magic Dragon

It's Peter Paul and Mary in this video. I love them. If you've been reading my music journals you may remember that I listened to one of their CDs recently, which had the effect of reminding me of old favorites. This is one of those old favorites. Though perhaps I shouldn't be using the term "old favorites" when I'm only 20 years old! LOL

When I did a search for it on YouTube I was simply looking for one that had them singing it like on the CD. I was quite surprised to find this recording of it, and immediately fell in love with it. I was surprised to find them end it by singing in present tense -- that's not how it is on their CD, and I don't remember anyone other than myself sing any part of it in present tense before!

I loved this song from the very first time I heard it, even though it took a while for me to understand the meaning behind the song. And no, I'm not saying that it's really a song about drugs! lol I never thought that.

It's a coming of age story. Puff represents childhood and innocence. Of course, as Jackie grows up he moves into the adult world, and leaves that behind. The song sounds sad, but that's life.

There's another verse that Peter Paul and Mary don't sing, but which I do. I don't know when this final verse was added on, but I am fairly certain that it was not part of the original lyrics.

One fine day it happened:
Puff woke from a dream,
he thought he heard a familiar voice
and Jackie's laugh it seemed.

He looked around his cavern
and over by the door,
he saw a little boy with a smile
that he'd seen before.

"Hello my name is Billy
my dad told me your name.
He said I'd find you in the cave
along the cherry lane."

So Puff that mighty dragon
he smiled in his joy.
A childhood friend was here again
For this was Jackie's boy!

Ok, so that looks like more than one verse when it's written out like that, but oh well. lol (I'm laughing a lot today, aren't I?)

I like this ending better not because it ends on a happier tone (though that's certainly a plus), but because it brings the story full circle. It also changes the song, though -- rather than being a coming of age song, it's a circle of life song.

On the other hand, singing the very last chorus in present tense, as Peter Paul and Mary did in the recording, has a similar effect. And yes, I said that I've sung it in present tense before, but I sang the whole song -- not just the last chorus -- in present tense, which is a different matter entirely.

What do you think? Do you like it better as a coming of age or as a circle of life song? Or do you like them both equally? And what do you think of past tense vs. past tense?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I loved this song as a kid, when it was a hit "the first time around," so I'm dating myself, LOL. I've never heard the "circle of life" ending you present in this post, but I love it, love it, LOVE IT! It's so much better than the rather sad note of "childhood lost" that the original ends on.

Sarita said...

I first heard another version of that ending years ago at a Girl Scout camp. I did a Google search after I got home from that camping trip and found several variations, but this was my favorite.

Actually the exact wording of this version that I found online said "He'd never be alone again" but that didn't seem right to me, so I changed it to "a childhood friend was here again."