No Hanalei link for folk song ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’

“Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,”

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton.

The Peter, Paul & Mary song “Puff the Magic Dragon” is frequently connected with the North Shore place name Hanalei for the reference to mythical Honah Lee.

The song gained national prominence in 1962 when it made it to number-two on the Billboard Top 100 pop charts.

The song was later released in March 1963 as a track on the best-selling Peter, Paul & Mary record album “Moving.”

Unfortunately for the dreamers and pop culture makers of the North Shore the song has no ties to Hanalei.

“I have talked about this with Peter before and we’ve also received similar inquiries about Puff…according to Peter, this is just a “serendipitous coincidence,” Paul Kehoe of www.peterpaulmary.com wrote in an e-mail sent to The Garden Island this weekend.

Yarrow, who has had a long career as a musical artist and political activist, co-wrote the song based on a poem by Cornell classmate Leonard Lipton, according to a piece on the song that appears on www.snopes.com. Yarrow added a melody to Lipton’s lyrics and added some lines of his own to make the hit song.

And no, the song isn’t a veiled reference to marijuana smoking, according to www.snopes. com, but instead about the “innocence of childhood lost” and inspired by an Ogden Nash poem about a dragon.

A blurb about Yarrow on the www.peterpaulmary.com Web site says the singer-songwriter has produced three animated television specials based on “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” and received an Emmy nomination for his work.

Chris Cook, Editor, can be reached at ccook@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 227).

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