tv Tavis Smiley PBS December 26, 2014 11:30pm-12:01am EST
good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with peter yarrow and noel "paul" stookey, the two surviving members of peter, paul, and mary about the publication of their new text titled "peter, paul, and mary :50 years in music and life," which chronicles the decades at the epicenter of music and the fight for social justice in this country. we're glad you can join us. a conversation about the life and legacy of peter, paul, and mary coming up right now. ♪
and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ever since the early '60s, peter, paul, and mary have been at the crossroads of music and political action. and the trio's unwavering commitment to social justice is the nativetive to "peter, paul, and mary 50 years of music and life." we'll look at the trio singing one of the anthems of the civil rights movement -- use guessed
it, "blowing in the wind." ♪ answer my friend is blowing in the ♪ ♪ the answer my friend is blowing in the wind ♪ >> i don't care how many times i hear that, how many different ways or versions of it i hear, talking about the trio -- >> yes -- >> -- it never gets old to my ears. does it get old to you when you're asked to perform it? >> not only does it not get old, not only is it -- when you hear -- just listen to this -- we're going to sing a couple lines, and you're going to hear mary's voice in our hearts. >> even show she be absent. >> yeah.
the answer my friend is blowing in the wind ♪ ♪ the answer is blowing in the wind ♪ >> you guys kill me, man. every time you come on the show. i -- when i know you're coming on the show, i just get tickled like a kid obviously. there's so few guests who come on the show and they just like kill it every time on the spot. just jump right into it. i love it. and as i've said a moment ago, i don't care how many times i hear it, it never gets old. >> and do you feel that mary continues through -- >> absolutely, absolutely. >> i mean, that music is not gone, and the time and the need for it is greater than ever. >> greater than ever. >> and it doesn't have to be these songs. just has to be songs with a similar intent. and there are many people -- >> you know, what you picked show here with the kids. you know, i expected to see the march on washington, you know. but this -- >> that's why i didn't go -- >> the younger generation.
>> yeah. >> let me talk about a couple of things related to the text in terms of context. then i'll get into the content of the book. contextturaly, as many times as i've had to talk to you on the program together and individually, we've never had a chance to unpack the character that the village is in your story. talk about the village. >> i think it was bad rap when you saw the movie because it painted a very dark picture. and what peter and i experienced in the village with mary of a great deal of hopefulness. not only about the equity between people but the vision that the music shared. and the hopeful not for the country. these were -- this is a radically integrated group from different countries, different races, and getting along just swell for no money but all for the vision and the love of it. >> yeazk0é it was not a time whh people were competitive, were
thinking about fame or success, it was -- we felt that we were in a crucible of change and excitement. and the privilege of that on a day-to-day basis was extraordinary. and i -- i must say that that kind of spirit, it does not characterize any business anymore, you know. but it was -- that was the time. >> speaking of that kind of spirit not being at the epicenter of the business today, something else a bit different what coffee houses meant then in the village or elsewhere and what they mean today. when i think coffee house today, i think coffee bean, i think starbucks, i think people plugging in ipads or ipads and l -- or ipods and sitting around. you make the point that the coffeehouse was your classroom. >> yes, it was. that was -- >> a great phrase. >> it was the nexus.
the connection point, you know. how surprised we were when after playing chess for so many days and months we should find a stage replacing a table. i mean, then begin entertainment, then begin the outreach and connection between music and the community. and then unfortunately, alcohol arrived and changed the nature of those clubs. more into night clubs than social gathering spots. >> yeah. at the end of the night, if you were perching, they would pass the hat. and then you would divide up the money. the people who came there would give according to their enthusiasm. see, where essentially in a coffeehouse, you know, and then you'd go to chinatown and have a bite to eat for -- >> spend everything you earned. >> yes. that's right. try to get up at 3:00 in the afternoon to do it again. it was heaven. >> yeah. it was. >> and you know, out of that
came a bobby dylan. out of that came dave and collins and richie haven -- >> arlo guthrie. >> the comics, bill cosby. >> but they had a platform. and the platform of created not because they wanted to make a book but because they had something to say. and who did we get the message from? we inherited it from the weavers, we inherited it from josh, from woody. >> the union movement where we will sing -- ♪ we shall not we shall not be ♪ ♪ we shall not we shall not be moved ♪ ♪ just like a tree that's standing by the water ♪ ♪ we shall not be moved >> we used to sing -- ♪ like when we're together
we shall not be moved ♪ ♪ like when we're together we shall not be moved ♪ ♪ just like a tree that's standing by the water ♪ ♪ we shall not be moved ♪ no more fracking fracking ♪ >> the times changed. now is we're talking about fracking, you know. >> that's where it goes. >> yeah. >> and these songs still remain -- you're singing songs of this sort, blowing in the wind, and if i had a hammer, and where have all the flowers gone in summer camps. this is not gone. it's just gone from pop music, it's not -- you know -- >> the message is being rediscovered in hip-hop, in -- even paisley. in country music. there are artists who are saying, wait a minute, i have a platform, i have a responsibility. i have a responsibility to my
own conscience as well as my constituents. >> yeah. i want to go back to something that i heard you kind of quietly push out there that the audience might not have heard over the music. you were talking about the comedians of the day, cosby and others. >> woody allen. >> there's another one whose name you mentioned -- nole stookey. >> yeah. >> reminiscing -- >> yeah -- >> we never had the space on stage to talk about this. we were doing interviews, we would talk about the next cause we were involved in. after mary's passing, two years after that, we started working on telling the story of what we shared. >> yeah. >> and this book is the legacy piece. and john kerry, who wrote the introduction, was a very close friend of the groups at the time of the -- he was the head of the vietnam veterans against the war. he nailed it, he said, this book
is not just an overview of the past. it is an invocation to do this once more if we stand together. this can be done. >> i'm glad you explained that. let me read a line from the back of the text. gorgeous book which we'll get to in a second. i love this line from secretary of state john kerry. "they changed the cultural fabric of this nation forever." those are john kerry's words. i knew the back story about the john kerry relationship, but i'm glad you explained, peter. i think there might be a disconnect for some knowing the kind of music and the kinds of social justice work this group has been engaged in it years, with the head of the state department writing the text. >> you know, we met a lot of peop people. there was a song, this is discussed in the book. we -- we did a -- as noel says, they know about the civil rights movement. but there we were later on, and
the anti-apartheid movement, getting arrested together. and we sang a song that later -- that was written for the occasion of a demonstration with bishop tutu. whether we met nelson mandela, he said, "i heard that song on robin island." there's something -- the context of what we were experiencing. people say, well, what kept you together. you look at the results of these things or -- for instance, in l.a., we do something called survival sunday to stop these nukes being put -- like on the san andreas fault. >> that's right. >> diablo canyon. when you say, look, this has a result, they stopped that from going on line. or if you read in robert mcmaaimcm mcnamara's book about the march on washington, you say, of
course they went. on they got all this encouragement. there was evidence we were going forward. meantime, we go from the time in the civil rights move. when we -- we marched with martin luther king. we -- if you were a person of color, you couldn't use in our nation's capitol a published bathroom unless it -- ist said "colored only." and there was lynching. now the races in this country, profound and horrific, for young black men. but what progress we've made. i was just asked thatment you know, well, did you do -- thdide do anything? not just we. all the people involved. >> even in your booker-- your book, "death of a king."
talking about the moral obje obligati obligation, the bombs dropping -- it was prescient really like his antiwar stance was. you see now the economic disparities and what was occupy wall street and what was the music of occupy wall street. again, it's not mainstream because there are so many issues to deal with. got to get out and sing. >> please. ♪ our cities crumble from above dropped on a foreign land ♪ ♪ when politicians stan ad and watch as the flames of hate are fanned ♪ ♪ no one is too young to help ♪ i know where this is going ♪ >> no one is too small ♪
♪ everyone must care we all must heed the call ♪ ♪ if you love your country and for which is stand ♪ ♪ both bring to the land >> talk about chicago and talk about martin luther king and gene mccarthy. and talking about deprive us -- >> yeah. >> of the honorable use of our resources so that we can be a caring nation. >> i want to go back to this group staying together. the point you were making a moment ago, peter. what kept you together all these years. let me say, first of all, i can die and go to heaven. noel read my book, y'all. but all hear that? >> don't put noel on --
>> you read my "death of a king" book. i'm honored to know that you picked a book of mine. especial oh dr. king. but -- i love you for reading that text. it was a labor of love for me. let me go back to this notion of all the things in social injustice work that kept you together. "the new york times" outed you guys about this book coming out on your 50th anniversary. >> that was the focus. >> the point was -- >> five years after -- >> i know. the point was you guys have really been together 54 -- a little more than 54 years. wru but the book celebrates 50 years. what was your response? >> i like peter's response best. >> we needed two years to process mary's passing. we were not about to hop on and say "let's make money." we took two years and started examining what it was in our hearts that would be a way to
express this legacy. and an invocation to the next generation. we're talking about a 50-year span of music -- not like let's do something to make money this year. this is not that piece of work. that is very vapid -- person who did not even read the material was insulted. >> i think the thing that stands out about the text -- if we say so ourselves -- it's not just a description of who was where but how we felt about being there. what went into getting us there and keeping us there. >> and how we viewed the things we were involved in. rather than just talk about them, how we made decision about the songs. how we worked out what -- >> and why would it be important to anybody not in the music
business. metaphorically, it's a blue print that we all need. i learned from seeing how you relate to the people that you work with here. i got to tell you folks, that's what makes this show bubble is because there's a beautiful harmony between all the people who work here. the cameramen, make-up people, the people welcoming you at the door. this kind of met sfor exactly what the book is talking about and what the -- the encouragement to live in discourse. >> my perception is to create a pool of peace. don't think of peace only as end of hostilities between nations. peace is what you create in your life in this situation. peace goes on backstage with the people doing the make-up and putting the -- peace is -- all that -- how do you think that gay marriage, you know, came along? didn't come along because some wise old guys in the back room
smoking cigars said it's time to pass -- no. because people lived it and made those pools of humanity and justice and peace. and that's what we have to keep doing in spite of whatever else is going on. >> let me go back inside this book. there's so much to love about this. it is a gorgeous coffee table -- a gorgeous piece of work on my coffee table already. >> open it up. >> i want to ask to that point about opening it up how the choices were made to put photos -- i know jonathan will put them on the screen. the photo selection is amazing. >> does he that. our manager who is kind of really, really there, and she also represents mary. she's amazing. martha. she was the curator of the photographs for this. >> the photos are amazing. >> we wrote -- and mary wrote, by the way, even though she was gone. she a prolific writer. >> truly a ghost writer. >> yeah.
>> she wrote op-eds, essays, poetry so we could include her. i want to sing a song -- >> no -- >> yeah. ♪ was it cesar chavez or rosa parks that day ♪ ♪ some say dr. king or gandhi that send them on their way ♪ tell it peter. ♪ no matter who your mentors are it's pretty plain to see ♪ ♪ that if you've been to jail for justice you're in good company ♪ ♪ have you been to jail for justice i want to shake your hand ♪ ♪ just sitting in and lying down are ways to take a stand ♪ ♪ have you sung a song for freedom or joined a picket line ♪ ♪ have you gallon jaone to jail justice. then you're a friend of mine ♪ ♪ hey you law-abiding citizens come listen to this song ♪
♪ laws are made by people but people can be wrong ♪ ♪ some unions were against the law but slavery was fine ♪ ♪ women were denied to vote and children were ♪ ♪ the more you study history the less you can deny it ♪ ♪ a rotten law stays on the books till folks guts defy it ♪ ♪ and have you been to jail [ laughter ] ♪ i want to shake your hand sitting in or lying down are ways to take a stand ♪ ♪ have you found a mentor a way to speak ♪ ♪ have you been to jail have you been to jail ♪ ♪ well the law's to serve us but so are the police ♪ ♪ but the system fails us, it's time for us to speak our peace ♪
♪ we must be ever vigilant for justice to prevail ♪ ♪ so get courage for your conviction or let them haul you off to jail ♪ ♪ and have you been to jail for justice i want to shake your hand ♪ ♪ sitting in or lying down are ways to take a stand ♪ ♪ have you sung the song of freedom in a picket line ♪ ♪ have you gone jail for justice have you been to jail for justice have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ hey then you're a friend of mine ♪ [ laughter ] >> i'm sitting here laughing. i'm thinking, i've been doing this, what, 25 years on radio. and you guys are the only guy that would come on and do six or seven songs. this is -- i can't get an artist to do one or two. this is a complete set of like seven songs in one conversation.
has it been worth it all these years? all the sacrifice, noel? >> yeah. well, for me, i have more of a been in my life than peter. peter's the flag carrier. you are out there on the road all the time -- >> it's intoxicate ing, but at this point -- being 76 and noel is two months older than i am. but i don't feel -- the only thing that's going hold me back are the limitations of my health. because for me, this is heaven. i think why would you not do something that is so incredibly rewarding. if you can go there -- >> let me answer that. because today the only way we define reward is in money -- >> that's right. >> that's where -- that's the real -- the real -- let me give you another piece. i believe what we're dealing with is the black hole of
empathy in our nation. if we want to reconstruct what we need in order to have a policy in terms of the environments, we don't continue to catastrophic climate change which is already happening, it comes ultimately from our caring about each other. but if you look at the absence of heart and what is caring about each other -- the big "l." it's love. >> yeah. i'm going to close on that note. i could do this for hours. i heard another, the black hole of empathy. happens every time. i go back -- take the transcript, i highlight it. they drop so many great mowrsel. i love you both. ain't nothing you can do, i love you. the book is finally out, it's "peter, paul, and mary: 50 years of music and life" with a beautiful forward by secretary of state john kerry. and the photos, i tell you, the
photos alone will get you. a wonderful story and beautifully told. so thank you boeing for coming back on again. you honor me every time you show up. >> you honor us. >> this is the only place where we can be like this, tavis. >> yeah. well -- >> this is it. >> you're welcome -- >> this is freedom right here. >> you're welcome back here any time. put you in tomorrow night, by the way. [ laughter ] >> that's our show for tonight. thanks for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley, join me next time for a conversation with berry gordy about the dvd release of "motown 25," next time. see you then.
>> charlie: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with julianne moore, the actress who stars in "still alice." >> i think that's what's great about acting is that you have -- it forces you all the time to put yourself in someone else's shoes and say, you know, what's most universal? what do i understand that i know this other person understands? how do i enter into that life and try the understand it? >> we conclude with robert battle, artistic director of the alvin ailey dance theater. >> this company, when we think about arts and education before it became somewhat of a buzz word to rays funds, i was a mission for alvin ailey that everybody had a seat at the table. he wanted this to connect with all people, that it wasn't a highbrow art form. so he believed in that, and i think that spirit