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Puff The Magic Dragon

by

Peter, Paul and Mary



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song was rumored to be about drugs, particularly marijuana. This rumor was fueled by a 1964 Newsweek article about hidden drug messages in pop music that came up with the following interpretations:

Puff's friend Jackie Paper = rolling papers
"Puff" = to take a puff from a joint
"Dragon" = a variation of "dragin'," as in taking a drag from a joint to inhale the smoke.

The band claims that the song is really about losing the innocence of childhood, and has nothing to do with drugs. At the end of the song, Puff goes back into his cave, which symbolizes this loss of childhood innocence.
Peter Yarrow wrote this in 1958 before he joined the group. He wrote it after coming home and seeing a poem on his typewriter with words about the dragon. He based his song on this poem, which was written by Lenny Lipton. A few years later when this became a hit, Yarrow found Lipton and gave him half the songwriting credit. Lipton, who was a camp counselor when Yarrow found him, gets extensive royalties from the song.

For his book Behind The Hits John Javna spoke with Lenny Lipton about his poem. Lipton was feeling homesick when he wrote it. One day, he was on his way to dinner at a friend's house, and was a little early, so he stopped at the library and happened to read some Ogden Nash poems. The title of the poem that grabbed him was The Tale Of Custard The Dragon, which is about a "Really-o Truly-o Dragon." Lipton was friends with Peter Yarrow's housemate when they were all students at Cornell University. On the walk from Cornell's library to the friend's house (where he was to eat dinner), he wrote the poem, which was about the loss of childhood. But no one was home when he arrived - there was some sort of mix-up about dinner. So he just went in and used Yarrow's typewriter to get the poem out of his head. Then, he forgot about it. Years later, a friend called and told him Yarrow was looking for him, to give him credit for the lyrics. Lipton had actually forgotten about the poem. (Thanks to John Javna for sharing this story.)
The original poem had a verse that did not make it into the song. In it, Puff found another child and played with him after returning. Neither Yarrow nor Lipton remember the verse in any detail, and the paper that was left in Yarrow's typewriter in 1958 has since been lost.
In an effort to be gender-neutral, Peter Yarrow later sang the line "A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys" as "A dragon lives forever, but not so girls and boys."
In 1964, 53 Douglas AC-47 passenger planes were armored and subsequently deployed as gunships by the United States Air Force in the Vietnam War. The planes carried tremendous firepower, shooting bright flares and rounds of machine gun fire on the Viet Cong, which referred to them as "Dragon Ships." This nickname led Americans to start calling the planes "Puff The Magic Dragon," turning the title of the winsome children's song into a moniker for a lethal killing machine.
Some of the alleged drug references in this song include the "autumn mist," which was marijuana smoke, and the "land of Hanah Lee," which was the Hawaiian town of Hanalei, famous for its marijuana plants. Peter Yarrow insists that not only did the song have nothing to do with drugs, but that he didn't even know about pot in 1958, which kills any theories that he put drug references in subconsciously.
This song was banned in Singapore and Hong Kong because authorities thought it contained drug references.
Peter, Paul and Mary formed in 1961, and this song was always part of their repertoire, although they didn't record it until their second album, Moving, was released in early 1963. The first concerts of Peter, Paul, and Mary consisted of a solo set by each of the men, followed by a dozen songs sung as a trio, which is when they performed "Puff."
Paul Stookey put the song on trial during a 1976 show at the Sydney Opera House. He had a "prosecutor" on stage claiming the song was about drugs, with Jackie and Puff explaining that it wasn't. Stookey told the audience that if they sang along, Puff would be acquitted, which they did - the judge declared, "case dismissed."
In order to show the stupidity of calling this a drug song, the band sometimes performs "The Star Spangled Banner" at concerts and pauses periodically to explain how the previous lines could describe drugs or drug-induced hallucinations. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
In the 2000 movie Meet The Parents, the family has a contentious debate over the meaning of this song. In the scene, this song comes on the car radio and Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), says to Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), "Who'd have thought it wasn't about a dragon? Some people thing that to puff the magic dragon means to smoke a marijuana cigarette." Byrnes replies: "Puff is just the name of the boy's magical dragon. You a pothead, Focker?"
When this was played on Bob Keeshan's TV show Captain Kangaroo, the accompanying illustrations seemed to reflect the missing fourth verse. During the final chorus, the words "BUT WAIT!" appear on the screen, and another child (who looks like a little caveboy) is seen knocking on the door to Puff's cave. The final picture shows Puff and the new little boy embracing. (thanks, Ekristheh - Halath)
In 1969, Peter, Paul and Mary released a children's album called Peter, Paul and Mommy which featured this song. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Peter, Paul and Mary
Peter, Paul and Mary Artistfacts
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Comments (77):

P. Yarrow demonstrates loss of innocence by writing a song about loss of childhood with veiled references to illicit drug use - thus, demonstrating the loss of his "personal" innocence. In essence, that being done it becomes a song with double meaning - one is loss of childhood, the comfort of living in an imaginative fantasy world; also, loss of childhood friends as people scatter in different directions running for cover as they attempt to find their place in the world. The last meaning inferred could indeed be connected to putting the magic pipe away and becoming a responsible adult making your way in the world as a thoughtful and productive citizen. For those worried about impressionable children, take Yarrow's lead---lie---you have lost your innocence, what better to prove it than with more deception?
- Cal, Hopkins, MN
On March 10th 1963, "Puff, The Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul, and Mary entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #61; and on May 5th it peaked at #2 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
And on the same it peaked at #2 on the Top 100 it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and #10 on the R&B Singles chart...
The week that it was #2 on the Top 100; the #1 record was "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March...
The trio's next release, "Blowin' In The Wind", also peaked at #2 (for 1 week) on the Top 100..
R.I.P. Mary Travers (1936 - 2009).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I'm still trying to find a version of this song with the 'happy ending'. As for the drug references some people obsess over, well, some people will see bad in anything! When you take into account all the facts about how the song came to be it is plain that drugs played no part in it's composition. Perhaps someone will do a version of the song with a happy ending, even if not the one used in the Captain Kangaroo show. Songs are modified all the time to fit different artists ideal of how they should be presented to their audience, or to fit their own conception of how they should sound. Perhaps if any musician, or singer, ever visits this site they will be so kind as to do a cover of the song that includes Puff meeting a new child and regaining his lost happiness. Miracles do happen, and one day I may be lucky enough to get to listen to a new version of this song, I certainly hope so anyway.
- Kenneth, Chatsworth, GA
I loved this song as a child, and spent many an hour eagerly looking for 'Puff the magic dragon' in the caves along the Cornish beaches. When my children were young, I told them of Puff, and sang them the song (no Youtube then). We searched caves together, and once they were even lucky enough to see Puff's shadow on the cave wall, through a hole in the cave rocks (may have been my arm shadow not sure sure) ;). Anyway although both my children are grown up, my son of 26 still fondly remembers those days, and my 25 year old Autistic daughter smiles when we sing and play the song (on CD). When we walk the beaches, with the sea mists rolling in while we check out the caves - "just in case." Life is very tuff for me, and this magical escape does my soul the world of good. There IS a God, however he reaches you! :)
- Debra, London, United Kingdom
I'm old enough to remember this song being played with the alternate ending on The Captain Kangaroo Show. I've always wanted a copy of the song as sung on the show. If anyone knows of a place to get a copy please let me know. They played the song every now and then on the show, always with the upbeat endind, so surely it is available somewhere. On a side note, there was a song about various cats that has also stuck in my mind all these years, anyone know the title and/or artist(s) that sang the song?
- Kenneth, Chatsworth, GA
I am looking for an epilogue of a paragraph that I, in a drunken stupor, stumbled upon somewhere on YouTube or some message board.

It featured a Jackie Papers, 20 years down the line, taking his daughter to meet Puff in the same cave. And Puff comes back to his old life, again!

I want to cry again. Someone, please make me...
- Rahul, Yamunanagar, India
I want to hear PPM's "Star Spangled Banner" explanation!
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
I would love any information regarding the Captain Kangaroo episode that featured "Puff the Magic Dragon" on the Magic Drawing Board. Specifically, which episode was it and does any one know where I can find a copy of this episode, or at least the segment. Thanks!
- Elizabeth , Glasgow, MT
This song is NOT about drug use. It's simply a beautiful tune about a little boy who likes to fantasize and play pretend, and the day coming when the boy has to grow up and leave his little-boy make-believe world behind and take his place in adult social company and behave in a way accepted in adult society.
- Rayna, Pembroke pines, FL
It's a fun song...:D And easy to sing. No matter what it is about:D
- Budoshi, Sandnessj√łen, Norway
If you really are sick of this discussion, track down a song released by Australian singer Dig Richards (later known as Digby Richards) in 1965 called "Puff (The Tragic Wagon)". Same tune as this but with different lyrics. All about how the automobile industry keeps wanting us to buy a new car every year. Pretty controversial for 1965. And, before anybody says anything.... it has no drug references in it!
- Phil, Brisbane, Australia
I agree with what others are saying; to stoners, every song is about drugs. This is not one of them. It really is pathetic how some insist the song is about drugs. It's a beautiful song and an expression of the highest level of the art of songwriting. Only a knuckle-dragging clod would think otherwise.
- Mike, Syracuse, NY
The drug version is something like

Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the angel dust in a land of lsd
Little jackie pusher rolled a joint for puff
But puff refused the offer and told him to get stuffed.
- LEE, Sydney, Australia
Sometimes when there are too many "coincidences" no amount of denial will do.I definatly think that this song uses terminoligy associated with smoking pot. Of course Peter Yarrow has to deny this do to its' popularity among children. My guess is that when he wrote it he thought the "pot" references were subtle enough. Petter Yarrow was a singer /songwriter in a 1960s folk band. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that he probably smoked marijuana. To think a man of Peters' intelligence and experience could not see the "pot" references is ridicoulous
- brian, boston, MA
I don't think the song is actually about marijuana, but I do believe that the persons involved in writing it at least had some experience with the drug which probably crept into the theme of the lyrics. I've never heard an explanation as to where the idea of "Honalee" came from other than it being a reference to the Hawaiian town known for its Cannibus, or why Jackie's last name was "Paper" which is not a typically common surname in the US.
- Mark, Lafayette, IN
Dude my 6 year old brother came home from school and starting singing that song , word for word my mom came stright to me and told him not to teach him that . But i didnt, he said he learned it in schooool. And i though what a pothead ass teacher. I dont care what anyone thinks that song is about bud and the little boy is having a trip ,hes zooooteddd
- Mjay, ny, NY
I don't know why but this song makes me cry.
- Nanciellen, east weymouth, MA
man, this song is just so cute and childlike and reminds me that one day sadly, ill grow up. it sorta sucks. im 14 now, who knows when ill stop believing in dragons and fairies and all the other things. i hope i never do.
- Amanda, Gretna, VT
WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT NOT EVER6THING HAS TO DO WITH DRUGS. I FIND THIS TO BE ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING I GREWE UP WITH THIS SONG AND BELIEVED EVREYTHING IT MEANT THEN AND STILL FEEL THAT WAY WAY TODAY. FOR ALL OF YOU THAT NEED A DRUG RIFF FIND IT ELSEWHERE, AND STOP WITH THE B.S. OF TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE MUSIC THAT YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND OR BE GIVEN THE ABILITY TO KNOW WHAT THESE PROFOUND ARTISTS WERE EVEN SINGING ABOUT. LET ME GUESS YOUR ABOUT 25 YRS OLD AND NO IT ALL?
- nedra, mesa, AZ
even as a young child this song made me cry. My perception at the time was that this song was about losing a friend you dearly love. At this point in life it is easy to see how one can interpret ANYTHING any way they want. Back to the loss of innocence....
- Lisa, Milwaukee, WI, WI
I too hear the pure innocence in this song.
- Reed, New Ulm, MN
Everyone here that says this song is about drugs just doesn't care about life as a child at all. If you did, you would understand and remember what that feeling was like, and you would take a completely different perspective on this song. That perspective would be the correct one as well, none of this drug stuff.
- Adam, Shen, IA
For the love of God.... please dont twist the meaning of this song.

It is indeed a beautifual sad song about growing up, losing your innocence.. things we missed doing when we were young ...

come on people... dont you all miss your childhood days??????????? please dont taint this childhood song with those ugly drugs and whatnots!!
- shu_en, London, United Kingdom
EVERYONE.. does it matter?.. when I was a child it made me feel good and into adulthood.. what does it matter who's right and who's wrong.. it's about what works for you and what doesn't. as in everything else in this world. it is how you perceive it that counts..
- donne, bowling green, KY
Well your right about one thing if you think that this song is all about drugs... MARIJUANA IS NOT A DRUG!! ITS A PLANT!!! And if you listen to the song it is about marijuana when they say that they make there way to other toys, its saying they went to other "Drugs" that was more hard core... why would they call him Jacky PAPER? or anything else in the song?? ya i listen to this song when i was a kid and i loved it and still do but if you were smart and listen to the song EVERYTHING is referring to marijuana and just because your against marijuana it doesn't hide the fact that what this song is about... ight
- Billy, greencastle, IN
Yes Gregg of middletown ct that was a joke about puff relating to aus footy. Did'nt think anyone would take it seriously.
- Drew, Brisbane, Australia
look. this song isnt about drugs. it isnt. but it does have some lyrics that make it sound like its about drugs. thts why its a good song for all people: children, adults, and of course, stoners. stoners like the song because it seems to refer to a dammn joint. and guitar playing stoners like to play the song. nuf sed
- asdf, asdf, Bhutan
I read in an Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (and snopes.com as well) that Lenny Lipton was nineteen when he wrote that. And I agree that, if it were about drugs, it wouldn't have been the basis of a children's cartoon in the 70's.
- Sara, Greenville, AL
I came across this "forum", I guess you would call it, and this has to be the first time that I have heard this song referred to as having a drug meaning. Puff the magic dragon was a kids show I used to watch. In fact I even have it on VHS. [old I know] I do not believe that if this song actually referred to drugs that it would have been made into a kids show. Although, everone is entitled to their own opinion and people should respect that. But just because their are a few refererrences to drungs does not mean that they were intentional.
- megan, nowheresville, IN
Puff is about pot.
Get over yourselves you goody-two-shoes idiots.
Maybe you all need to smoke some weed and listen to the song.

Seriously though...

The true meaning of the song, when it was created, is known only by the creator. The claim of its meaning is what we know.

The important thing is that, like all music and art, each person takes his or her own experience and meaning away from it.

So stop the arguing and start rolling the "dragon" and let's "PUFF" that "magic" beast and create some "autumn mist"!!!

P.S. No Pink Floyd member ever did a hallucinogenic drugs...EVER. Believe that one?
- Puffer Von Smoker, Pottsville, GA
I find it interesting that the debate about Puff referring to drugs is still going on when Yarrow has stated himself, even in talks to college students and even a class I attended where he stated the drug allusions are all bogus. In his words, and I take this straight from my notes from when he addressed my studentbody: The song was nothing more than a children's story with music set to it to get my children to shut up and go to sleep. It seems drug users are able to find symbolism in anything to refer to drugs. Good God, where do these people come from?" So in the author's own words about this song....... It is not about drugs it's about a stupid dragon who who happens to make children fall asleep when they hear about his story. Everything else is myth. I don't care what sources or references anyone else may have, that's all speculation without a single block of foundation. I have the word straight from the horses mouth himself. The song has never been about drugs.
- Don, Los Angeles, CA
What I find truly interesting is the controversy this song caused, and the convienience that has for Yarrow. Whether this song is an innocent children's tune or an ode to reefer, Yarrow and the band is banking big because of the song's appeal to both children and stoners. Go capitalism! In any case, a great song.
- Joe, Middleville, MI
Abby your right the song is not about drugs it is a childrens song based on the cartoon back in the 60s
- Daniel, Dearborn, MI
Erik you misinterpret the song, it was a childrens song because when I was in preschool I sang to this song.
It is my favorite song.
Nicole I agree with you it should be required listening for young children. It is about the loss of childhood. I am listening to it right now even at 19 years old
- Daniel, Dearborn, MI
My dad used to put me to sleep with this song. Drug references or no, it was a very pleasant memory for me as a child.
- Arianna, Largo, FL
Bari, the song appears on the album "Peter, Paul and Mommy" (live version) and you can find the CD easily on Amazon.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
Well obviously, a lot of people really like this song. Actually, I wanted to post a fact about another song on the same album. The Zoo Song actually got airtime on a Monty Python skit. A guy is sitting in an office waiting, and he keeps hearing the refrain, "zoo, zoo zoo" over the speaker. Of course, nobody else hears it and it drives him crazy. Anybody else seen this?
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
Seriously...What I like about this song is the way it turns the traditional dragon myths on their sides.



In poems (like Beowulf), stories, songs and myths, the dragon is usually a creature that the protagonist must slay. Many people see dragons, as I do, as embodiments of our fears and secrets, which we often must "slay" or "conquer" to progress in our lives.




Perhaps we can hear this song in a similar way. However, there's a twist: Jackie Paper didn't intentionally set out to kill Puff. But, in essence, that's what he did when he "came no more" and Puff "slipped into his cave."




And why would Jackie "kill" Puff? Maybe he wants to leave his childhood--Puff--behind him, and doesn't want anyone to know how he played as a boy. If that's so, there's a parallell to the traditional dragon stories. But, as I said, there's a twist.
- MusicMama, New York, NY
When you read all the posts about the alleged drug references in this song, you realize that way too many people have way too much time on their hands.
- MusicMama, New York, NY
This discourse is incredibly amusing, especially for those of us who were growing up when the song first became popular. It was written in 1959, several years before pot replaced alcohol as the social intoxicant of the 60's (to be replaced, in turn, by cocaine in the late 70's and 80's). For those who seem to think you are "in the know", here are a few tidbits: a "dragon" is a mythical beast; A "Puff" refers to the fire that dragons breathe; "autumn mist" is the haze that hovers over fields in the late fall; "green scales" are the bony flakes that cover a dragon's hide; and "Jackie Paper" is the name of a little boy who grew up. (Was someone actually serious about looking up how many people named "Paper" are in the U.S.? I wonder how many "Aragorn"s or "Eowyn"s you might find - those are made-up names, too!). Ben Stiller and his script writers hardly constitute an "authority" - and if anyone really, really needs drug references, there are plenty of songs to find them in without denigrating a children's song. If the author says it has nothing to do with drugs, who is anyone else to argue? (Look up "Urban Legend References" for further details.)

And an Australian football club? This honestly has got to be a joke; the song was written nearly 50 years ago - before the events described ever took place - by a 19-year-old American college student who probably didn't - and maybe still doesn't - know that Australians even HAVE a sport they call "football"! To each his own, the song can mean to you whatever you want it to mean - but please don't force your warped rationalizations down everyone else's throat!

One final note: the student who wrote the poem on which the song is based was a Physics Major at Cornell - and they still weren't smoking pot there - certainly, not on the Physics Department - when I went to college in the late seventies, which was one of the reasons I chose not to go there... :-)
- Gregg, Middletown, CT
It's weird that no one mentions the cartoon that came out a long time ago...based on the song. I believe it was narrated by Peter Yarrow. I remember it. I wonder if someone has it on YouTube? Personally, I don't believe it's about drugs.
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
I really DO think it's about drugs, there are too many damn coincidences.
- Dragon = draggin
- Johnny = joint, which is rolled up in paper, a "johnny paper"
- Honah Lee refers to the Hawaiian city of Hanalei, which has long been known as a major marijuana supplier.
- Erik, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Puff is obviously about the st. george dragons footy club( sydney Australia)of the 1960's who won a record 8 premierships in a row. After the retirement of champion centre and captain Johnny Raper (Jackie Paper)they no longer frolicked in the autumn mist at the S.C.G (rhymes with Honna Lee). The St.George Dragons have not come close to the success of those glory days since.
- Drew, Brisbane, Australia
Perhaps those who insist it's a drugs song can explain the hidden meaning of "Painted wings and giants rings" or "Cherry lane".
- Steve, Lancaster, England
I am 24 years old and I love this song. When I was younger my mom had given me a puff the magic dragon album. It had the song of course and on the album itself it had puff all over the front. Well over the years it was taken by a family friend and never returned and I am now left crushed. I have a 5 year old boy of my own now and would love nothing more than to share this great song with him but can't seem to find this album any where. If anyone could help me it would be greatly appreciated. Just email me at shortie3802@msn.com ( i have it on my ipod but its just not the same.)
- Bari, Harker Heights, TX
This song has a bit of political significance to it. When it was released, America was beginning to get involved in the conflict in Vietnam. When the campaign really heightened in the late 60s, President Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the military draft. The draft enlisted young men ages 17 and 18 into the military. So many young men grew up very fast due to this war.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
This was the first popular song I ever heard, so I tend to get insulted whenever people say it's about pot. Not anything against those who do think so, but to me it always takes me back to when I first heard it when I was four years old.

Personally, this should be required listening for any young children.
- Nicole, Boston, MA
Many years ago I tucked the kids up in bed and sang 'Puff' to them for the first time to settle them down. My three year old son sat up sharply and asked 'did he die Dad, did he die?'........ not the result I had hoped for, so I added a final verse. Only just this morning read on your website that there had been an original happy ending. Anyway, here's mine:
'One morning Puff awoke to feel a weight upon his back,
To his delight he looked to see that there a young boy sat,
Puff forgot his sorrow and put aside his pain,
Marched off with his new found friend to face the world again.'
And yes, it did have the desired effect - my kids fell asleep with happy thoughts in their heads.
ps You could make it politically correct by replacing 'boy' with 'child' I will ask my daughter for a view on that (she's twentyone now and well up on such things!).
- mike, London, England
Puff the Magic Dragon is my favoite song. Even though its 20-30 years old. Something about the song makes me like it. Maybe its becuase off my dad. From his childhood he watched it. I've only seen 1 episode of it about 2 years ago (2004) I've looked all around the internet for a video and i ca'nt find anything. So i just Downloaded the song and i listen to it EVERY day. I don't know any facts on this song or TV show but I still like it. I've been thinking of byeing an OLD copy of some episodes for my dad on his birthday. Im gonna do that this year. I wanna see how happy he gets. See ya Later!
- Steven, High Ridge, MO
I had a brother that died of cancer when he was just ten years old. I never knew him. My mother has often said that "Puff The Magic Dragon" was his favorite song.
- Kaytee, Birmingham, AL
does it really matter what we might perceive the song to be about, the AUTHORS & SINGERS are telling us that it is about leaving childhood for the all to real world of adulthood. Should that not be enough for us to believe!
- Brenda, kELOWNA, Canada
For me, its hard to believe this song is about anything except the loss of childhood innocence, Especially considering the man who wrote it said that it was, how can you argue with that?? Hes the one who wrote it!!
- Kayla, London
When ever one of my family members goes out to smoke and somebody asks them where they went they always said "She/He went to go puff the magic dragon." Freakin' hilarious.
- Jillian, Portland, TX
this song is so tragic, I just can't feel a little bit sad with the tune of the song and puff going off forever in sadness because he has no friend to help him or have fun, and will never see her again, but I love this song it's great:D
- Grey-ham, Comox, B.c
no fred... it was about cocaine of course
- Charlo, STHLM, Sweden
you know, I don't think this is about drugs, simply because it wouldn't be good to write about drugs in a song for kids. I think you can agree, even if you're clean and sober, because drugs is really dangerous for kids. it big time brain can of theirs destroy.
- Petter, Ã?ngelholm, Sweden
Shortly after PP & M won the grammy for best children's record for this song, Mr. Yarrow was convicted of "taking immoral liberties" with a 13 year old girl. I think he even did time for it.
- yduR, Knoxville, TN
Maybe I am the right age, I do not know, I am 44. My mother played me this song as a child and I still cry when the first chords are struck on the guitar everytime I hear it. I went to see PP&M in Louisville in the 1980s. My date and I were the youngest people in there and she was not familiar with the group. Most of the patrons were the age of our parents. I told her to be prepared for when they sang Puff, the crowd would get quiet and sad and then they all sang along and the noise level increased incrementally to a very loud singalong and to this day I remember the band turning off the mikes and the instruments and allowing the crowd to sing this wonderful and melancholy song together, as one. I came across it again in a story in the internet today and have been humming and crying ever since. As I was born in 1960, I didn't really grow up til the 70s. What ashame to have had to grow up at all. Oh, Puff.
- Jeff, Louisville, KY
THE most tiresome discussion in rock is about this song and the supposed drug references. The only thing more tiresome than that is Peter, Paul and Mary themselves. YAWN. This tune is clearly in the same category as Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" and Neil Young's "Suger Mountain." Sorry to hear that Peter Yarrow has made the lyric about little boys politically correct...
- Wes, Springfield, VA
Wat is the sequel for the song i can't find the name anywhere thx for anything u can tell me
- Jeremy, Nampa, ID
the song has nothing to do with DRUGS
- brandon, vienna, WV
the original singers was the smothers brothers.
- brandon, vienna, WV
Well Well Well. Is is so hard to think what DRAG-ON might refer to? I take it that the song is about the burning down of a joint. I just checked Yahoo's people-finder and there are actually 47 out of hundreds of millions of people in the US named "Paper". However, just like a novel, the elements of a song (unlike like real life) and consciously selected and there for a reason. One popular brand of rolling paper is Jack Daniels. But I believe (though I can't document this old memory now) that "Le Zouave" on Zigzag rolling papers was nicknamed Jack. However, I could not find any such reference on the Web. "Strings" might be a cute reference to hemp. Though that sort of thinking would only be sane after you are locked into the joint metaphor of the song (which I am). Joints have to be sealed but glue and saliva rather than wax are the stuff. "green scales fell like rain". Certainly scales are a key part of the underground drug scene. Could the cave image be associated with the mouth? Of course, the song was meant to mingle the imagery of smoking a joint with the imagery of a magic dragon. So parts that are mostly dragon rather than joint would not seem dismaying. 'nuff said.
- Charlie, Bridgewater, NJ
great song! i don't think it's about drugs though. It's definitely a kids' song. Some people think every song has to be about drugs.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I have an original vinyl EP of Puff the Magic Dragon and it remains the most evocative song in the world to me.I sing my young son to sleep with it every night, leaving out the last 2 verses where Puff "sadly slips into his cave" after Jackie has moved on from childish things! The imagery is steeped in English folklore and I believe the "string and sealing wax" Puff brought for Jackie to play with is prompted by a similar sounding passage in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Personally I remain unconvinced that marijuana is the song's Muse, though I agree that Jackie's surname gives pause for thought! Butsurely there's too much emotion, too fine a recognition of the frailty of friendship against the buffers of real life and growing up for it to be anything other than a truly amazing children's tale made song.
Clare Davies, United Kingdom
- Clare, London, China
i love the song puff the magic dragon!!! the first time i heard it i cried. i sang the song in a talent show at school and the next day kids were saying things like "i like your voice, but why did you sing a song about drugs?" this hurt me because i loved the song. i did some reasearch on the song and -thankfully- found out that the song is not about drugs. am i right or is the song really about drugs???
- abby, basking ridge, NJ
it cracked me up when this was the omni's horn in Meet the Fockers.
- rachel, oxford, OH
I had not heard this song for many years until something I heard made me track it down and listen to it today. I find it paints a wonderful picture in my head and memories of the song came flooding back. While tears do well in my eyes when I hear it I think Puff is waiting in his cave until we choose to visit him.I too had heard about the drug referneces but nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks Peter, Paul & Mary.
- Tom, Adelaide, Australia
I actually regularly saw Paul Stookey when I went to Northfield Mount Hermon. We all sang Puff the magic dragon around a campfire. His comment, "The song isn't about drugs. People who use drugs think that everything is about drugs!"
- Morgan Phillips, North Truro, MA
I have always loved "Puff, the Magic Dragon" even though I still find it profoundly sad. To this day, I cannot sing it through without weeping in sympathy for Puff and how lonely he must have been! Of course, all children should grow up and in so doing "put aside childish things", but it is still unfortunate that some of the things put aside are innocence and imagination. I expect I also weep for my own losses. Robert Frost said it well in his poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay"
"Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief,So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay."
As for the drug reference, that is even more sad. Some things are simply what they are.
- Patricia, Edmonton, Canada
does every song have to be about drugs.....here's a thought maybe it's just a kids song ...God know!!!!!!!
- pete, nowra, Australia
The AC-47 gunships (code-named "Spooky") were named "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and dubbed "Dragon Ships" following the first trials in combat. Each of the three GE Miniguns fired 6,000 bullets per minute (a total of 300 rounds per SECOND), and were originally loaded with all-red tracers to help the pilot aim in the dark. Viet Cong survivors reported that a dragon had flown around in the night, roaring at them, then spit fire at the ground. When word got back to the US that this new secret weapon (the planes only flew at night for several weeks) had been named after their song, PP&M were reportedly furious and wanted the Air Force to stop using the phrase. In fact, the planes had been called "Dragon Ships" before anyone associated the song title, and nowhere in official records was the plane known by anything other than the actual designation (AC-47 means "Attack Cargo" aircraft model 47) and code name (the current USAF gunships are code-named "Spectre" as direct descendants of "Spooky").
- Keith, SLC, UT
Im sorry....Jackie Paper, etc. Too many coincidences for me.
- Uncle, Philly, PA
Peter, Paul, and Mary were pleasent folk revivalists whose lovely three-part harmonies made for perfect children's songs.
- Alex, Thompson's Station, TN
I didn't know that this chilhood favorite refers to drugs!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
Many people think this song is about pot, as in "taking a puff".I used to think that too.
- Scott Baddwin, edmonton, England
The song was initially released as simply "Puff", and didn't become "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" until about a month afterwards as it approched the Top 10 in Billboard.
About six months before "Puff" entered the US Charts (March, 1963), in the UK there was a song which was also called "Puff" finding popularity. Actually the full title was "Puff (Up In Smoke)" by Kenny Lynch on HMV Records (October, 1962). But it doesn't end there. THAT song was originally from the US, written by the popular songwriting trio of Bill Giant, Bernie Baum, and Florence Kaye, and was called "Poof!". It was originally recorded as such by Bill Giant for M-G-M in December, 1961. However, the term "Poof" had an unfriendly meaning in the UK, which forced the title change. Surprisingly, when the Lynch version was released in the US on Big Top Records, the title was reverted back to "Poof!!". As it happens, that was just about the time the P,P&M song was gaining momentum.
So, ...was the title change of the P,P&M song to clarify any drug reference? Or was it to distinguish itself from the Kenny Lych song???
As an added note, Giant, Baum and Kaye were significant songwriters of Elvis' material, mainly of his movie tunes. They were also responsible for writing the theme for the popular Japanese cartoon which was known as "Kimba, the White Lion" in the US, of which was sung by Bill Giant (uncredited). I mean, it was about a white lion, ...wasn't it?
- Fred, Summit, NE
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