Puff the Magic…Stoner? - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Puff the Magic…Stoner?

Hear straight from the Dragon's mouth.



    Puff the Magic…Stoner?
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    Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary tells the true meaning of Puff the Magic Dragon.

    NOT TRUE says the guy who wrote the song about Jackie Paper's magical dragon back in 1959. Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary says the song has NOTHING to do with drugs. Now sure, some of the lyrics do seem a little trippy-dippy, but Yarrow insists it is nothing more than a whimsical tune about growing up and the feelings that go along with leaving your childhood behind.

    The song has become a staple of American folk, and even children’s music. But over the years, more and more rumors spread hinting that the song was one long series of drug references. A slightly agitated Yarrow tells us nothing could be further from the truth, and he says, if you really poke around, you can find drug references tucked into just about every song you've ever heard. He even suggests, sarcastically, that Francis Scott Key was a junkie spewing stoner talk in his famous tune that became our National Anthem.

    Yarrow says he and a friend wrote "Puff" based on a poem they read, and that, as a senior at Cornell in 1959, he was too naïve to even think about cleverly inserting drug references. This topic has annoyed him so much over the years, he even threatened to sue the makers of the hit movie "Meet the Parents" because, he says, they had promised not to use the song to discuss the drug symbolism. If you've seen the movie, you know they did just that. Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) informed his daddy-in-law-to-be that the song might have drug references, leading Jack Burns (Robert Deniro) to drop the famously funny line- "Are you a pothead Focker?"

    Whether Greg Focker is a pothead or not- that's not the issue. Peter Yarrow says Jackie Paper and his magical dragon Puff? They are clean and sober.

    You can watch our whole interview with Yarrow using the videos on the left.  In video 1, Yarrow answers the age old question of what is the true meaning of the song.  Yarrow talks about dissecting songs and explains how the "Star, Spangled Banner" could be about cocaine in video 2.

    The third video gives the full story about the true meaning of "Puff the Magic Dragon." And in video 4, find out what sparked the controversy between the Fockers and the dragon.