The Soundtrack Of My Life: Peter, Paul and Mary – Leaving On A Jet Plane

Introduction: This entry was originally posted at, the predecessor of to mark the death of Mary Travers, the female vocalist of Peter, Paul & Mary. Mary Travers died Sept 16, 2009 of leukemia, diagnosed five years earlier.

I hadn’t intended to post about the death of Mary Travers today, but an email from a friend with a link to a couple of videos of songs she, Peter Yarrow, and Noel “Paul” Stookey performed reminded me how important their music was to me.

I still have to correct myself when I automatically think of their cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” as the original. “If I Had a Hammer” and “Puff, the Magic Dragon” are as irrevocably integrated into my perception as the hymns I heard in church every Sunday morning.1

And, on at least one particularly significant instance, the music of Peter, Paul & Mary was literally, as the cliche has it, the soundtrack of my life. The following excerpt is from Julie’s Story: Leaving On A Jet Plane:

Bedazzled, bedraggled, and befuddled, I left Julie and Wichita Falls to travel to my parents’ home where I had arranged to visit and spend the night before returning to Chicago. The trip from Julie’s apartment to the airport had been anxiety provoking because Julie, who had driven that route many times without a problem, had made a wrong turn that had taken us several miles out of our way. The trip had also been tearful, both of us plainly heartbroken about separating after the astonishing experience of being together the preceding 60 hours, and neither of us certain about the future. It didn’t help that when we were within ten minutes of the airport the car radio began playing the sweetly sappy Peter, Paul, and Mary version of Leaving On A Jet Plane.

By the time I reached my hometown, I was still disappointed over the prospect that my romance with Julie might not extend beyond our one weekend together and still unsure about what would happen next but had reached two conclusions. I had decided that, regardless of what happened between Julie and me, I would not continue to be part of an unhappy marriage and began making concrete plans for a divorce. I had also resolved that, while I was uncertain about the specific course to follow, I would do whatever possible to persuade Julie to live with me – that the risk lay in doing too little rather than too much.

And no, I don’t know why, after eight years of being smitten with Julie, after six years of being miserable when I was geographically and emotionally separated from her, and after just spending the happiest sixty hours of my life with her, that it took another eight hours for me to realize the obvious – that I was wildly, irredeemably, utterly in love with Julie and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

Peter, Paul and Mary – Leaving On A Jet Plane

This 1969 rendition features a guest appearance by John Denver, who wrote the song.



Julie Showalter

Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.


  1. and Sunday night and Wednesday evening and revival week and … []

2 thoughts on “The Soundtrack Of My Life: Peter, Paul and Mary – Leaving On A Jet Plane

  1. Mary Travers’ voice, That song, your story, together become a golden flame holding back the night. Thank you Dr Heck of a Guy, for being you and for being a candle in the dark.

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