Puff The Magic Dragon
I’m sure some of you would remember the song “Puff, the Magic Dragon” which was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. For years this song was labeled as one of those drug culture songs of the sixty’s. But with a little research I discovered discover that this is not a drug song. Puff the Magic Dragon is actually based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton a friend of Peter Yarrows. The story goes like this. Leonard Lipton had just recently turned 19 and was on his way to a friend’s house for dinner he found that he was running a bit early so he stopped by a library and read a poem by Ogden Nash. Nash’s poem was about Custard the Dragon .
On the walk to his friend’s house Lipton thought up the poem “Puff the Magic Dragon” in which he expressed his view of the loss of childhood. When he arrived at the house no one was home so he went in and used Yarrow’s typewriter to get the poem out of his head. Once he finished typing he left the poem and forgot about it. The lyrics tell a story Puff the Magic Dragon and his playmate Jackie Paper, a little boy who eventually grows up and loses interest in his childhood adventures with Puff
In 1961, Yarrow joined Paul Stookey and Mary Traver to form the group we now know as Peter, Paul and Mary. The group used the song in their performances before recording it in 1962. The song did reach number two on Billboards top 100 chart.
Rumors continue today that Peter, Paul, and Mary’s hit is all about drugs and marijuana in particular. The references include the little boy’s name, Jackie Paper, which supposedly stands for rolling papers, the “autumn mist,” is marijuana smoke, and the “land of Hanah Lee,” is the Hawaiian town of Hanalei, famous for its marijuana plants. But the evidence agrees with Yarrow and Lipton that the song is nothing more than a sad song relating to the loss of childhood adventures. Feel free to use this info at any social gathering.