Transcript: Peter Yarrow. Peter, Paul and Mary. Jun 11th 2008

Peter Yarrow, singer/songwriter of "Peter Paul and Mary" was in the studio with Thom. He sang songs and explained just how amazing Obama's nomination and Hillary's campaign were to those who marched for civil rights in the 1960s. We should not drop the ball now.


Thom Hartmann interviews Peter Yarrow, 11 June 2008



[This is not a complete transcript of the two segments; I summarized some parts and skipped over others.]


Peter Yarrow, singer/songwriter of "Peter Paul and Mary" was in the studio with Thom. Mary had acute myelogenous leukemia and had a bone marrow transplant but is recovering well and they should be touring again in the fall. He was in town for a fundraiser for Mercy Corps. He and Thom could be seen on ThomVision. He said:


"My sense is that we have, for the first time since the 1960s, and I feel this, even, I was just over a school for kids with special gifts and needs and I was saying, for those of us who marched on Washington, Selma, Montgomery. We were part of the of the women's rights movement and the equal rights amendment passing, to see that Barack Obama is a candidate for president is an astonishment.


And it's not just that, but also a woman, Hillary Clinton has risen to the height where she was a viable candidate and might indeed be an important member of the cabinet or who knows what. To say that, we have the opportunity for the first time, now, as we sit here together, to say that democracy may be rejuvenated in this country, democracy that has been squelched, desperately struggling under this last administration because anybody who really opposed the positions of the administration was labelled seditious or at least unpatriotic.


And so I see this as the most exciting time, but it means that, it reminds me of that moment in 1968 when finally the movement had an electoral political candidate in Eugene McCarthy and for others in

Bobby Kennedy, and instead of sticking with it, we, you know,

people just lost their hide after the '68 debacle in Chicago.


This time we can get our, when I say our, I mean a person who represents what these marches and these movements and that sense of equity has been all these years. We can get that in office, we have the opportunity. Throughout the world they're looking at the situation and they're saying, "this can happen now. This is the democracy the US was supposed to be."


Peter then sang:


I still have a hammer
And I still got a bell
And I still got a song
To sing all over this land

It's still the hammer of justice
It's still the bell for freedom
And the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land.
All, all over this land.

And he went on to say:


"And we can sing this now knowing that maybe in this country we can say with liberty and justice for all and know that the people who are in Guantanamo, that maybe when they released that we'll have the guts and the clarity to go to them, individually if not as a country, and say, "how can we have done this to you without due process?" We'll have the guts to go to the people of Iraq and say, "how can we have done this" in a way that we never did to the people of Vietnam.


We'll have the opportunity, once again, without being labeled seditious, to say, "we will have equity in this country in terms of the haves and have nots and we won't have the top 5% having extraordinary amount of money and those who are disenfranchised, less and less and less. And we will not have acrimony and divisiveness as the word where people are forced into silence by the tools of Goebbels, you know, where we frighten people...


You know, young people here, they don't know what it's like to have, you know, struggled, what we've achieved. And so they don't understand how important this moment is. Folks it is time to rejoice and you can rejoice. You know what? Even a song like this becomes relevant."


And he went on to sing:


The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

"We are talking about a time when we are living on the cusp. Do not fail to understand that this is the crucial moment for us. If we fail to do this now. I've lived so many moments, the past seven plus years have been the most distressing, the most dangerous. My great fear is that in some way that this president, actually I don't think he actually was... He is the official president but I'm saying if he doesn't make a deal with the Israelis to invade Iran, and the saber rattling is getting louder and louder, you know, which would be horrific and take us, if we will have a time in which will be able to say to each other..."


The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist [a mountain of prejudice]
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many sea years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free? [maybe, maybe, maybe more and more]
How many times can a man turn his head,
And pretend that he just doesn't see? [unless he is sociopathological in which case he can't see]
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin'

"Can you imagine singing these songs and feeling that they are just not whispers from the past when there was idealism that is no longer relevant and you hear how these songs resonate with you resonate with our times?"


[Thom]: "Is that the experience that you're having as you tour around the country, that not just people of our generation and age, but young people who are re-experiencing, or discovering for the first time; we're re-experiencing, it's like deja vu all over again. But you're experiencing that change?"


[Peter]: "Yes. Well I am, as I was just telling these kids in this wonderful school with kids with special gifts and disabilities it that, I said, 'now it is possible for everybody who is a female in this room to say a woman has successfully become a candidate in one of the parties for the presidency'. There is no chance that anybody that is female is not proud of that. And everybody nodded. There is no chance that every person of color in this country says, 'I can now strive to be a part of this society because I am not excluded in the way I was before this'. Do you realize what that means for a person who marched for these things?"


[Thom]: "That's an incredibly powerful frame."


[Peter]: "And everywhere I go, but your job, my friend, your job, Thom, is to let them know that this is not only the time for intelligent discourse on these topics, but this is time to get deeply involved. If we miss this opportunity we are indeed missing the boat."


[Thom]: "Absolutely, absolutely."


Another song from Peter:


Don't ever take away our freedom
Don't ever take it away
We must cherish and keep that one part of our lives
And the rest, we're gonna' find one of these days
One of these days.

Peter took questions from listeners. He is for impeachment in principle, "certainly, but I think strategically right now we have to focus not on hammering the other but inspiring each other. This is the time to say..."


There is a time for the singing and the sunshine
There is a time for the thunder and the rain
There is a time for the changing of the seasons, my friends, we know that too
But there is one thing we must, we must never change

Don't ever take away our freedom...

"So now what we've got to do is we have to understand that to create further divisiveness with those people who are going out at this point, yes, we need to hold these people accountable but right now we have to solidify your efforts and not create the kind of animosity."


[Thom]: "Yeah, in fact the Obama campaign, apparently, is opposed to the impeachment effort because they're trying to reach to Republicans to vote for Obama in the fall. Ad he's got a lot, it's a startling number of Republicans are saying yeah, 'I'm gonna vote for Obama'."


[Peter]: "Yeah. Do you know why? Because he is, he has not bought into the entire system of a long list of people that have made his political career possible. He has reached out and he will reach out. My hope is that he'll reach out to somebody like Colin Powell for the Secretary of State and show it, live it, walk it."


[Thom]: "Wow, that would be the healing of the nation, I'll tell you."


Peter's role in opening up the fraternities in the 1960s.


I asked my love to take a walk
We'd only walk just a little way

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome

[Peter]: "I believe that what we need now in this time of the possibility of the switching from the intimidation and the animosity and the anger and acrimony in politics into a politics of forgiveness."


[Thom]: "America needs a reconciliation committee like South Africa."


[Peter]: "we need a truth and reconciliation. We need to examine what we have done that is wonderful and celebrate it, we have to look at look at what we've done in Vietnam and Iraq and say, 'we must make amends as human beings in this country."


Ray from Memphis Tennessee suggested that "don't ever take away our freedom" should be "let's not give our freedom away".


We'll never let them take away our freedom
We'll never, never let them take it away again
We must cherish and keep that one part, that one part of our lives
And we'll be together, respectful of our rights, my friend
Thank you, I'll give you co-publishing credit on the changes to this song.

[Thom]: "Well done, Ray. Ray's point is is well taken."


[Peter]: "It is. It is up to us now through inspiration, through commitment to recognize that this moment is the most crucial moment. I never thought in my lifetime I would see this possibility. We must take advantage of it and Air America is the place to have the conversation."

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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