Puff The Magic Dragon

Album: Moving (1963)
Charted: 2
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  • Lyrics
  • 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 claimed 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 the song in 1958 before he joined the group. It started with a poem his roommate, Lenny Lipton, left in his typewriter. In a Songfacts interview, Yarrow told the story:

    "Lenny Lipton and I were at Cornell, and it was exam time. He came to my place in Collegetown, sat down at the typewriter, and wrote some poetic words - he had been thinking about Ogden Nash for a while. And he wrote part of what became the lyric. He actually left the piece of paper in the typewriter when he left because he was absorbed in getting to his exams. It was not intended to be a lyric of a song or anything - it was just something that he typed on paper, and I looked at it and loved it. I wrote the rest of the words to give it a song form and a dramatic arch, and the music to it.

    Later, on the second album [Moving], when we were looking for children's songs - we did some children's songs on the first album, including 'Autumn to May' and 'It's Raining' - I suggested 'Puff, the Magic Dragon,' and we put it on the album, without any thought that it might ever become popular in any important way. Yet, it happened spontaneously at some point, because a DJ somewhere in the Northwest started to play it on the radio, and it just took off, and it's the song that it now is."

    A few years after this song 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. Lipton went on to develop a system for projecting films in 3D.
  • For his book Behind The Hits John Javna spoke with Lenny Lipton about his poem that sparked this song. 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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 think 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ekristheh - Halath
  • In 1969, Peter, Paul and Mary released a children's album called Peter, Paul and Mommy which featured this song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
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Comments: 85

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaNedr YOU ARE RIGHT there are those who will make something BAD our of everyone's song lyrics. I'm of an older generation then most of you, but can say, That small child I was lives not very far below the surface. I believe in make believe things, along with Faries , Unicorns and Dragons. Hey why not
  • Gray Guy from ColoradoIf there was another ending verse, I may have heard it, I don't remember it. With apologies to Lenny, Peter and anybody else who may have another verse, I submit (Oct 2018):
    Twenty long years later hand in hand they came
    Searching all along the sea calling out his name
    The dragon heard them calling what could it mean
    A grown-up Jackson Paper and his daughter Jacquline
    Puff roared out so loudly he could not contain his joy
    He circled all around them looking for the boy
    Little Jackie Paper hugged that dragon to her breast
    So the story starts again and you know all the rest. Oh..
  • Patricia Jane from Jamaica PlainI was born in 1954 and remember hearing this from day one. But I absolutely take the verse
    "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"
    to mean that Jackie did not live long enough to disappear by growing up. I am autistic so I often don't follow subtle clews (my brother had to tell me that "I am a rock" by Simon+Garfunkel was not intended as a shining example of a life plan, as it was to me) but this growing-up interpretation is alien to me.
  • Joe from Penticton, Bc, CanadaI would rather see Puff grow along with Jackie Paper so he could watch Jackie's development as a human being. Either that, or he meets Mrs. Puff and has lots of little puffs so he'll never be lonely again. I think the way Puff is left in the song is terribly sad. The song needs a better ending. No wonder children and adults alike cry when they hear the song. To abandon love and loyalty like that is beyond wrong.
  • Daniel Celano from Lafayette Hill, PaThis is the personnel list for the Peter, Paul and Mommy, Too concert.

    Peter Yarrow - Vocals, Guitar
    Noel Paul Stookey - Vocals, Guitar
    Mary Travers - Vocals
    Dick Kniss - Bass
    Paul Prestopino - Mandolin
    Sue Evans - Drums, Percussion
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 17th 1963, the first annual 'Monterey Folk Festival’ opened; the three-day event featured performances by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul & Mary...
    At the time Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon" was at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the week before it had peak at #2 {for 1 week}...
    {See posts below}.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaThose of you who persist in interpreting every song in the universe as being "about drugs" remind me of some old goofball preacher in one of my hometowns who in the '80s was hell bent and determined to convince his chattle that rock and roll was the tool of the devil, and proceded to give "examples", such as some boy killed himself while listening to "Stairway to Heaven", which "proved" his point. My rebuttal to that was that if the boy had been listening to a Band-Aid commercial, that would obviously mean that Band-Aids were the tool of the devil. So I guess all you "it's about drugs" morons probably think "We're having Beefaroni! It's made with macaroni!" commercials are about drugs, too.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 2nd 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary performed "Puff the Magic Dragon" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three days later on May 5th, 1963 it peaked at #2 (for 1 week)...
    (See second post below for more chart info).
  • Cal from Hopkins, MnP. 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?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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).
  • Kenneth from Chatsworth, GaI'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.
  • Debra from London, United KingdomI 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! :)
  • Kenneth from Chatsworth, GaI'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?
  • Rahul from Yamunanagar, IndiaI 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...
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesI want to hear PPM's "Star Spangled Banner" explanation!
  • Elizabeth from Glasgow, MtI 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!
  • Rayna from Pembroke Pines, FlThis 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.
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayIt's a fun song...:D And easy to sing. No matter what it is about:D
  • Phil from Brisbane, AustraliaIf 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!
  • Mike from Syracuse, NyI 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.
  • Lee from Sydney, AustraliaThe 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.
  • Brian from Boston, MaSometimes 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
  • Mark from Lafayette, InI 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.
  • Mjay from Ny, NyDude 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
  • Nanciellen from East Weymouth, Ma I don't know why but this song makes me cry.
  • Amanda from Gretna, Vtman, 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.
  • Nedra from Mesa, AzWHY 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?
  • Lisa from Milwaukee, Wi, Wieven 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....
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnI too hear the pure innocence in this song.
  • Adam from Shen, IaEveryone 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.
  • Shu_en from London, United KingdomFor 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!!
  • Donne from Bowling Green, KyEVERYONE.. 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..
  • Billy from Greencastle, InWell 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
  • Drew from Brisbane, AustraliaYes Gregg of middletown ct that was a joke about puff relating to aus footy. Did'nt think anyone would take it seriously.
  • Asdf from Asdf, Bhutanlook. 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
  • Sara from Greenville, AlI 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.
  • Megan from Nowheresville, InI 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.
  • Puffer Von Smoker from Pottsville, GaPuff 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?
  • Don from Los Angeles, CaI 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.
  • Joe from Middleville, MiWhat 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.
  • Daniel from Dearborn, MiAbby your right the song is not about drugs it is a childrens song based on the cartoon back in the 60s
  • Daniel from Dearborn, MiErik 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
  • Arianna from Largo, FlMy 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.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaBari, the song appears on the album "Peter, Paul and Mommy" (live version) and you can find the CD easily on Amazon.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaWell 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?
  • Musicmama from New York, NySeriously...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 from New York, NyWhen 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.
  • Gregg from Middletown, CtThis 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... :-)
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzIt'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.
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiI 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.
  • Drew from Brisbane, AustraliaPuff 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.
  • Steve from Lancaster, EnglandPerhaps those who insist it's a drugs song can explain the hidden meaning of "Painted wings and giants rings" or "Cherry lane".
  • Bari from Harker Heights, TxI 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.)
  • Patrick from Tallapoosa, GaThis 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.
  • Nicole from Boston, MaThis 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.
  • Mike from London, EnglandMany 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!).

  • Steven from High Ridge, MoPuff 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!
  • Kaytee from Birmingham, AlI 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.
  • Brenda from Kelowna, Canadadoes 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!
  • Kayla from LondonFor 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!!
  • Jillian from Portland, TxWhen 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.
  • Grey-ham from Comox, B.cthis 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
  • Charlo from Sthlm, Swedenno fred... it was about cocaine of course
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, Swedenyou 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.
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnShortly 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.
  • Jeff from Louisville, KyMaybe 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.
  • Wes from Springfield, VaTHE 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...
  • Jeremy from Nampa, IdWat is the sequel for the song i can't find the name anywhere thx for anything u can tell me
  • Brandon from Vienna, Wvthe song has nothing to do with DRUGS
  • Brandon from Vienna, Wvthe original singers was the smothers brothers.
  • Charlie from Bridgewater, NjWell 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.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scgreat 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.
  • Clare from London, ChinaI 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
  • Abby from Basking Ridge, Nji 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???
  • Rachel from Oxford, Ohit cracked me up when this was the omni's horn in Meet the Fockers.
  • Tom from Adelaide, AustraliaI 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.
  • Morgan Phillips from North Truro, MaI 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!"
  • Patricia from Edmonton, CanadaI 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.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiadoes every song have to be about drugs.....here's a thought maybe it's just a kids song ...God know!!!!!!!
  • Keith from Slc, UtThe 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").
  • Uncle from Philly, PaIm sorry....Jackie Paper, etc. Too many coincidences for me.
  • Alex from Thompson's Station, TnPeter, Paul, and Mary were pleasent folk revivalists whose lovely three-part harmonies made for perfect children's songs.
  • Tiffany from Dover, FlI didn't know that this chilhood favorite refers to drugs!
  • Scott Baddwin from Edmonton, EnglandMany people think this song is about pot, as in "taking a puff".I used to think that too.
  • Fred from Summit, NeThe 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?
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