"The short answer is, yes, I think the human spirit has been called to account," he says. "I think the propensity to ignore standards of human behavior, to ignore the abuses, has changed. There is a communal conscience that's been elevated by virtue of everything that's happened, starting in the '60s.
"I can't give full credit to folk music alone. But you must admit, at the hinge point between the mid-'50s and the mid-'60s, music became aware, or the artists involved in music became aware, that you could speak to the concerns of the community. You could say, 'How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?' Or you could say, 'If I had a hammer, I'd hammer out justice, I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters.'"
Peter, Paul and Mary performed together for 40 years. (They parted from 1970 to 1978 to pursue solo careers.) Even though the group won five Grammy Awards, produced 13 Top 40 hits and earned eight gold and five platinum albums, the song Stookey is best known for is one he never intended to release.
He wrote "The Wedding Song (There Is Love)" for Yarrow's wedding in 1969. He planned to sing it for the bride and groom, and that would be it. It was their song, he says. But after constant urging by the couple, Stookey recorded it for his first solo album, "Paul and," and created the charity organization Public Domain Foundation to receive the proceeds. According to its website, the foundation has given away about $1.5 million.
In all, Stookey has recorded more than 45 albums, as a soloist and with the trio. In January, he plans to record another. It's a bit edgy, he says, with a song about the connection between the Afghanistan war and the Taliban with drug use in the U.S. and another about two French boys, one of whom is Jewish and ends up in a concentration camp.
A sappy love song will be in there, too, and, he says, "I think essentially this new album is all about the capital "L" love, as opposed to the small "l" love. It's about the over-arching concept of love in our lives."
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