Thursday, December 27, 2007

Puff's not about drugs

Apparently Puff the Magic Dragon is nothing to do with marijuana. According to Peter Yarrow who wrote the song, it is really about rites of passage, and Jackie Paper becoming Bar Mitzvah.

Here is part of the the article from the Jerusalem Post

St. Louis - Peter Yarrow wants to make something clear: "Puff the Magic Dragon" is not a song about marijuana. And he should know. Yarrow co-wrote the nostalgic ballad as a student at Cornell University before teaming up with Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers to turn it into one of Peter, Paul and Mary's most beloved hits.
[Peter Yarrow. ]

Peter Yarrow.
Photo: Courtesy

It is, Yarrow insists, about the lost innocence of childhood. In the song, Puff the Magic Dragon and little Jackie Paper frolic in the autumn mist of a land called Honah Lee until one gray night Jackie Paper doesn't come. While dragons live forever, the lyrics tell us, not so little boys.

So Yarrow informs his audience at a performance this summer that despite the connections others might have made between the name of the song and its origins in the 1960s, "It's not about drugs. It's about getting bar mitzvaed."

You see, he says, "Jackie Paper grew up and he became bar mitzva. And at that point everybody said it's time to do away with childish things. You have to start dealing with life... One day he just knew he had to perform many acts, many mitzvas. He became so involved in that, that that's what Puff's about."

The explanation, which Yarrow admits is fanciful, still elicits a warm response of laughter and cheers from the members of the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education for whom he is performing. At his earnest behest, scores of the Jewish educators in the audience - both those old enough to have caught "Puff" when it first hit the airwaves and those who only learned it from their parents - have come on stage to join Yarrow in his rendition of the classic tune. He hugs and kisses and poses for photos with as many of them as he can, all while filling them in on the deeper meaning of his words.

But we all know that the real Puff song is about much more than Bar Mitzvah. Check out this fantastic chipmunk style rendition of PUFF THE KOSHER DRAGON!

Amazing stuff Feivel Yosef. I don't know how you do it, but you had me in stitches.

And in case you want to sing along at home, here are the words:

Puff the Jewish dragon, lived in Palestine,
And frolicked in the synagogue and drank Manischewitz wine.
Little Rabbi Goldberg loved that dragon Puff,
And fed him lox and matzoh balls and other kosher stuff.

Then one day it happened, Puff was eating pork,
Little Rabbi Goldberg took that dragon for a walk.
Gently he explained that dragons don't eat meat
That comes from little piggies that have dirty filthy feet.

Then Puff became Bar Mitzvah, put on tefillin every day,
Wrapped up in his tallis that's the way that he would pray;
Made brachos before eating, benched after every meal
Imagine how religious it made that dragon feel.

Now there were some people who did things just for spite.
They'd curse Jews and attack them just to get into a fight.
When Puff the dragon saw this, he roared a mighty roar
Now those wicked people are not with us anymore.

Now Puff the Jewish dragon found himself a bride,
Now little kosher dragons are his source of joy and pride.
They'll grow up doing mitzvahs, learning Torah, praying too,
With Rabbi Goldberg teaching them what kosher dragons do.

You who may be listening may think we're making fun,
But deep down in this story is a moral for everyone.
If dragons can wear a kippah, keep Shabbos and Kosher too,
Then you can learn, like Puff did, to be a real good Jew.

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