Hans Worst Hits of the 60’s- “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” by Peter, Paul and Mary- which went to #9 on the Billboard Singles chart in the summer of 1967. Don’t believe a word of it- Peter, Paul and Mary didn’t dig rock and roll- they hated rock and roll. Rock and Roll came along and harshed their mellow. The year before this song was released Mary said , “it’s so badly written. … When the fad changed from folk to rock, they didn’t take along any good writers.” In the song they parody the Mamas and The Papa’s, Donovan and The Beatles.
Below is what – whatculture.com had to say about I Dig Rock and Roll Music.
I Dig Rock And Roll Music – Peter, Paul & Mary
Unlike the previous songs on this list, the lack of understanding regarding Peter, Paul & Mary’s 1967 smash “I Dig Rock And Roll Music” is less a result of cryptic lyrics than us music lovers’ lazy listening habits, only listening to half of a song’s lyrics, combining them with the song’s title, and drawing conclusions about the tune from that alone. That’s not to say that “I Dig…” doesn’t have stylish lyrics, because it does; in fact, the style of the lyrics, along with the instrumental arrangements, do a lot to get the song’s point across. However, the lyrics are still somewhat straightforward, and, although the music is great and it’s easy to get swept up in the beat, not listening to the lyrics may indict us listeners, including myself, of being just what the songwriters claim that rock lovers are like. “I Dig…” was written by Paul Stookey (the “Paul” of the group’s name), Jim Mason, and Dave Dixon in response to the quickly-rising rock music “fad” of the time. Stookey, Mason, and Dixon felt that rock music was inferior to folk music; while they felt that folk tunes were deep and thoughtful, they thought that rock n’ roll was shallow and only appealed to the lowest denominator of record buyers. To express this opinion, the three composed this song, which lampooned three of the most popular rock artists of the time while also skewering their fans. The song’s first verse mocks rock lovers, heavily using the slang terms of the time (like “dig” and “happenin”), while also stating that rock lovers don’t like “smart” music but prefer vapid bubble-gum songs. The second verse mocks then-popular group The Mamas And The Papas, using the musical style of The Mamas & Papas’ recent hit “Monday, Monday” to ridicule the group for writing lyrics that make no sense. The second verse teases the psychedelic guru Donovan, particularly his song “Sunshine Superman,” taking him to task for also writing incomprehensible lyrics (this is actually a valid argument in Donovan’s case; while his music is good, his lyrics are rather strange). The third verse takes on the Beatles, accusing them of being sell-outs, caring less about what their music says than the amount of money it brings in. The fourth and final verse takes up an interesting tack; it states that, while important messages could conceivably be conveyed through rock music, they would have to be so heavily concealed that it would render the message indecipherable. I know that, when I was a kid, I thought that this tune was merely a loving homage to my favorite genre of music, and, as I read others’ writings about the song and as I’ve talked about it with others, I’m relieved to find that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It feels good to know that you’re not the only lazy listener out there. I can’t help but wonder what Stookey, Mason & Dixon thought as they watched their anti-rock song climb steadily up the Billboard charts, become a platinum rock record, and, in what must have been the ultimate insult, be covered by one of the song’s targets, The Mamas And The Papas. I guess that just goes to show you that, in the words of Stephen King, sarcasm will get you nowhere in this world unless you want to write for Mad magazine.