Peter Paul and Mary - Blowin in the Wind

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Music History

Assignment 4 – Peter, Paul, and Mary

Peter, Paul, and Mary's “Blowin' in the Wind” is actually quite appealing to a mainstream audience, due to the simple arrangement and catchy hook. The accompaniment is easy to follow and understand, which makes it accessible to listeners that do not necessarily have a music education. Also, the tight vocal harmonies between two men and one woman are very interesting, because that sort of setting is not typical for popular music fare. Also, for being a folk song, the twang or accent is very subdued, which would possibly turn off some listeners who might be averse to folk tunes. There's a good deal of vocal inflection in Mary's voice, which pulls on the listener emotionally. For someone who does not particularly prefer folk music, the song is actually quite pleasant, and the strong lyrical content is definitely worth a second glance. Conversely, Bob Dylan's version is more spoken, and contains a more rubato vocal performance. Also, the inclusion of the harmonica heightens the folk quality to the song. Moreover, Bob Dylan's diction is much more “country,” with hard “R's,” “jist” in the place of just, and “yes'n” in the place of yes. Those minor shifts create a rustic feeling, where Peter, Paul, and Mary's diction was more refined, for the folk style. These two different takes on one song make a lasting difference, in terms of the presentation of the material. Peter, Paul, and Mary's version of the single sold a phenomenal three hundred thousand copies in the first week of release. So, perhaps it is safe to say that folk songs can be popular, they just have to be presented in such a way that appeals to a wide audience, while still staying true to the roots. It is not an easy task to fulfill, but Peter, Paul and Mary have proved that it can be accomplished.
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