4.26-I DIG ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC (Peter Paul & Mary)

Peter Paul & Mary

I dig rock & roll music
And I love to get the chance to play. (and sing it)
I figure it's about the happiest sound
Goin' down today.

     The message may not move me
     Or mean a great deal to me
     But hey! it feels so groovy to say:

I dig the Mamas and the Papas
At "The Trip," Sunset Strip in L.A.
They got a good thing goin'
When the words don't get in the way.

     And when they're really wailing,
     Michelle and Cass are sailin',
     Hey! they really nail me to the wall.

I dig Donovan in a dream-like,
Tripped out way.
His crystal images tell you
About a brighter day.

     And when the Beatles tell you
     They've got a word "love" to sell you
     They mean exactly what they say.

I dig rock & roll music.
I could really get it on in that scene.
I think I could say somethin'
If you know what I mean.

     But if I really say it
     The radio won't play it
     Unless I lay it between the lines.


Peter, Paul & Mary had enjoyed popularity during the period when folk music was the hippest genre, in the early 1960s. With the coming of the Beatles, they were eclipsed by rock and roll, and I Dig Rock and Roll Music was their first hit since 1963. It offers wry comment on the popular music of the Summer of Love. The lyrical presentation seems to say that the Mamas & the Papas are much like Peter, Paul and Mary in sound but have less to say, and that Donovan and the Beatles get by on their attitude and technological distortion. This song issued the first popular protest (to become louder in time) that psychedelic music was elaborate tissue paper covering a gift of vacuous words, if you know what I mean. Far from idolizing the "progress" of popular music, as Eric Burdon was prone to do, Peter Yarrow seems to think of the Summer of Love as a foolish lapse in taste addled by drugs. Yarrow's lyric also suggests that the lyrics may be vacuous because of censorship on the radio, so that everything has to be said indirectly anymore. (One has only to think about We Love You, a contemporary song by the Rolling Stones, to see this "criminal" indirection in action). Peter, Paul & Mary weren't done yet. They would go on to have a number one folk music hit in 1969, their rendition of John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane, before the group disbanded. By that time the psychedelic flower had long since faded as the hip fashion, and was no longer synonymous, as it was in the Summer of 1967, with rock & roll music.