Puff the Magic Dragon - Just for Fun

[deleted account] ( 21 moms have responded )

My son has a childrens MP3 player (the same idea as the FisherPrice cassette player they used to sell). It had preloaded songs on it but you can also load other songs on it. Anyway, I put the song "Puff, the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul and Mary on it and caused a bit of a debate in the process.



My DH thinks that it's a song about smoking pot. His reasons are the title (okay, I can see that), the chorus he says is a drug dream and his last reason is that they weren't allowed to sing about drugs and had to come up with creative euphenisms for drug use.



I remember studying this song in junior high music class and the teacher told us that it was about a soldier going off to the Vietnam war. I don't remember what her reasons were but I always thought that the song was about a little boy growing up. How we lose our childlike imaginations as we get older. My reasons are the lyrics themselves. They talk about visiting kings and queens and pirate ships - stuff little boys would pretend - and how Puff gets all sad when Jackie doesn't visit anymore (he's grown up).



What do you think it's about? I've included the lyrics in case someone's not familiar with the song as well as a link to snopes.com that explains what the authors of the song intended it to be about.







http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/puff.a...





Puff, The Magic Dragon



Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,

Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,

And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh



Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.



Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail

Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail,

Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came,

Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name. Oh!



Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.



A dragon lives forever but not so little boys

Painted wings and giants' 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.



His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,

Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.

Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave,

So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!



Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

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21 Comments

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Caitlin - posted on 05/10/2010

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Oh man, I love that song, and will sing it to my kid. There are references in shrek that kids don't pick up on either, inteded for the adults. I was having a similar thought the other day about older kids songs.. The cat came back is promoting animal cruelty, those "one of these things is not like the other" games or "spot the differences" games are promoting racism and making kids point out different people.



I dont thinkt the song was originally made to be a druggie song, my husband disagrees, but he doesn't care, because it's a great song and to our girls, it will be about a dragon and his best pal, not about smoking a joint.

Andriea - posted on 05/10/2010

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Speculation about drug references
After the song's initial success, speculation arose that the song contained veiled references to smoking marijuana.[6] For example, the word "paper" in the name of Puff's human friend (Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers, and the word "dragon" was interpreted as "draggin'," i.e. inhaling smoke; similarly, the name "Puff" was alleged to be a reference to taking a "puff" on a joint. The supposition was claimed to be common knowledge in a letter by a member of the public (who offered no qualifications for his expertise on the topic) to The New York Times in 1984.[7]

The authors of the song have repeatedly rejected this urban legend and have strongly and consistently denied that they intended any references to drug use.[8] Peter Yarrow has frequently explained that "Puff" is about the hardships of growing older and has no relationship to drug-taking.[9] He has also said of the song that it "never had any meaning other than the obvious one" and is about the "loss of innocence".[10]

On one occasion, during a live performance, Yarrow mocked the drug-related interpretations by reciting his own tongue-in-cheek drug-related reinterpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner", and ended by saying, "You can wreck anything with that kind of idiotic analysis."[11]

In 1976, "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary also upheld the song's innocence. Noel "Paul" Stookey recorded a version of the song at the Sydney Opera House in March 1976,[12] in which he set up a fictitious trial scene. The Prosecutor, a snake, accused the song of being about marijuana, but Puff and Jackie protested. The judge finally leaves the case to the jury (the Opera House audience) and says if they will sing along with the song, it will be acquitted. The audience joins in with Stookey, and at the end of their sing-along, the judge declares "case dismissed."

An example of how this myth had become part of the popular culture four decades after the song's introduction, can be gauged by the song's appearance in the 2000 film Meet the Parents, where there are many conversations and references to its supposed drug message. The song also appears in the fourth episode of The Oblongs, where Bob, Milo's father plays a few lines on a piano at a parent-teacher meeting.

gotta love wiki-pedia

Another example of how the urban legend has become part of the culture comes from an assertion made by Fox News that in January 2004, as Yarrow was campaigning with personal friend and Presidential candidate John Kerry, Kerry had made a gesture as if puffing a joint as Yarrow sang "Puff".[13]

Andriea - posted on 05/10/2010

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do you all remember the magic roundabout for people that arnt sure every charactor was based on a differant substance and they played on a magic round about my point is i watched it as a kid and thought it was just a load of friends have fun and playing its not till i got alder that i realised it was alittle more sinister. im sure alot of these programmes were brought out to make it easyer for adult viewing when there child insisted on watching it over and over. im sure your son will be fine and by the time he realises what its about he will be a mature adult.

Suzette - posted on 05/01/2010

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Now that's hilarious... presuming that everyone who hears that song and thinks it's about pot just automatically is a pot head. Sorry, that made me giggle.



So what about the poem by E.E. Cummings called In Just?

There are many people who have misinterpretd the meaning of that to be about a pedophile. However, it's in reference to the Greek God Pan, children who are growing up, entering the adult world, etc.

http://www.poetry-archive.com/c/in_just....



So does that mean that those in literature classes that misinterpreted it were pedophiles? If you apply that logic to everything, then you'd be suspicious of everyone around you constantly.



(By the way, I've known people who haven't done drugs - any of them - in their entire life, and they thought that song was about pot.)

Karissa - posted on 05/01/2010

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I think the song should be taken as it is written. If people want to read into it then fine, you can do that with any song or poem. I highly doubt a child is gonna deduct pot from a song about a dragon. You know who does that...pot heads. That's who.

Suzette - posted on 05/01/2010

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You're welcome. =) Sorry it didn't change his mind! I think my mom actually believes it's about pot too... lol. Ah well, there's no changing her mind either. On any subject... haha!!

[deleted account]

Thanks for the links Suzette, I especially liked the middle one.



Lol Loureen - I never heard that before.



Hubby still thinks it's about pot but it's on the MP3 player and it's staying. I don't think he believes it'll corrupt our LO, I was just surprised that it caused such a debate between us over whether or not it was a drug song.



I remembered something from my childhood while reading your replies. My father had a record when I was a child and there was a song on it called 'Harold the Horny Toad'. I loved the song but my mom hated me listening to it and I could never figure out why. I thought it was 'Harold the Horned Toad." What was the big deal? I was a lot older and the record long gone before it clicked.

Jocelyn - posted on 05/01/2010

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Loureen I've heard that too! Funny as hell :P
As for Puff, no little child is going to connect a friendly dragon with weed/hallucination. Now that I'm older I love listening to all the old songs/movies and FINALLY understanding what they are actually about ^_^ I use to sing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds ALL the time when I was really little and I didn't make the connection to anything "adult" (lol) until I was much older.

Charlie - posted on 05/01/2010

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If you play Brittany spears : hit me baby one more time backwards she says " sleep with me im not too young " I shit you not i have heard it !!!

[deleted account]

I had figured it was about little boys growing up and leaving the childhood games behind. It makes my all teary eyed because I think of my little ones growing up. I never believed it was about drugs, people like to find hidden meanings in things that are not really there.

Suzette - posted on 04/30/2010

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http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1...

http://davidsisler.com/07-21-2003.htm
(That one is pretty funny, lol.)

And one of the sources I trust quite a bit...
http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/puff.a...

You can show those to your hubs and hopefully he'll feel more comfortable. =) I always thought it was about pot too... but you can misread anything if you wanna. We see what we want and hear what we want sometimes. ;)

Jessica - posted on 04/30/2010

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Haha I love Puff the Magic Dragon, I still have the cartoon on VHS! :) And as a child, I just loved the dragon and songs :)

[deleted account]

How about "proud mary keep on burning, rolling on the river" yeah sang that growing up too. And I'm clean. =)

Christa - posted on 04/30/2010

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P.S. Growing up my dad loved The Doors and as a result I did too. I didn't even know that "come on baby light my fire, baby we couldn't get much higher" was about drugs until I was much older. How much more obvious could that be?!?!?! I think when it's not in their brains to begin with, they are blinded to it.

Charlie - posted on 04/30/2010

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Actually thats a myth about Lewis Carrol an ordained priest , i read about him in national geographic and his very questionable relationship with a young girl named Alice liddell 11 years old who some say he was in love with and the reason he never married ,she is who he wrote the story for and not to mention his great love for little girls in general who he would often take nude photos of as he was an avid photographer too .

Christa - posted on 04/30/2010

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LOL! Sara, I was going to mention Alice and Wonderland too! Also Dumbo where Dumbo and the mouse get wasted and see dancing pink elephants. Someone was on acid when they made that movie. But I think it's all lost on young kids. Even now when I watch the Cosby show I can't believe how horny Cliff and Claire were, but that all was lost on me growing up.

On the song, I've always heard it was about drugs too, but I don't think it will get your son hooked on weed. :-P

[deleted account]

I agree with Sara. Kids won't pick up on it. Have you ever watched Alice in Wonderland? Seriously Lewis Carroll was on drugs. But I always just liked the movie. Sara, Miss Hannigan also wants the "prohibition of little girls". And I always liked Puff too. =)

Sara - posted on 04/30/2010

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You know, I recently bought my daughter the musical Annie, which I freakin' loved as a kid. Watching it again with her, there's some references I never caught onto as a kid. For example, Ms. Hannigan makes bathtub gin and the kids sing about sticking her with a pin and slipping her a Mickey Finn. My point is, I never picked up on that stuff as a kid, so I don't think Puff the Magic Dragon is going to scar your child for life. It probably is about Pot (or so I've always thought), but my guess is a lot of children's movies/shows are done by people that have "expanded" their minds on illegal substances. Most ofus have turned out ok.

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