Sunday, September 14, 2008

Songs That Remind Me Of People/Times - "Puff, The Magic Dragon"

Have you ever had certain songs remind you of people or a time in your life because, for whatever reason, the song is so closely associated with that person and/or time?

Ok, maybe I'm the only weirdo, just indulge me.

Driving around Iowa I've had a lot of opportunities to listen to oldies stations on the radio (it seems like every city has such a station, which is great) and I found myself thinking back to times and people in my past that I associate with certain songs.

I was 8 years old when Peter, Paul and Mary released "Puff, The Magic Dragon" in 1963. The first time I heard it I was sitting at the dining room table of our home in Hialeah at night, probably doing homework or reading when this song caught my attention.

Listening to the beginning of the song I was all smiles. What little boy wouldn't want to play and have adventures with a dragon? This was a great song! I would make this song the national anthem, it's so great!! My imagination conjured up scenes of ME on Puff's tail, making pirates afraid and meeting kings and princes. I was sailing through the water with Puff, playing and splashing while he roared and shot fire out of his mouth.

But then I heard the words,

"A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar."


and at 8 years of age I misunderstood and thought that little Jackie Paper had died, somehow ignoring the reference to making way for other toys. I remember my eyes filled with tears as I thought of Puff, who lived forever, losing his friend to death and I felt so devastated at the loss that I could not help but weep. Even worse, it seemed that because his friend was gone, Puff could not bring himself to live any longer either and "...sadly slipped into his cave!"

Shortly after that (and ever since), I came to realize that little Jackie Paper grew up and that his friend was mourning the loss of his childhood. It might be one of the reasons I've always tried to keep my inner child alive; because I didn't want Puff to slip silently into his cave and "die." Reason, logic and growing up made me understand the story that was being told and to understand its message of childhood lost. But still, driving down the dark, lonely roads of Iowa this past Wednesday on my way back to my hotel, I found my eyes welling up with tears as I listened to the song and was taken right back to that night and the sadness I felt. It's funny how some thoughts, feelings or incidents stay right with you as if they just happened, instead of 45 years ago.

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name. oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.


And just for the record, it's NOT a song about smoking pot.

3 comments:

Georgie said...

I loved that song. I remember I being mortified when people told me it was about drugs. True or not, that rumor tainted the whole Puff experience for me when I was younger. I'm scarred for life. LOL

AnnMarie said...

It's about drugs?? Anyways, I like the little series you are doing here on songs, I might do the same.

The Word Of Jeff said...

AnnMarie,

I'm glad you like the series. Just please don't write things your dad wouldn't want to read about his daughter, lol.

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