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Dig it

Warner Bros. Records
Peter, Paul & Mary's 7th studio album was "Album 1700."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Strange dreams flitted through my mind all-night long. But what I remembered, upon waking, was a song I had not heard in a while, “I Dig Rock and Roll Music,” by folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. It was a hit (along with John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”) pulled from their 1967 Warner Bros. Records album Album 1700, so named because it was the record label’s catalog number for the LP. The song was running on a loop in my mind. I have no idea why.

My mom was big into folk music in the 1960’s and even dated the guy who would become a guitarist for John Denver, the guy who would write “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” which became a hit for Denver in 1975. John Denver and pastoral folk pop and blues were popular in my household growing up.

And while “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” was released in August 1967, “Leaving On a Jet Plane” would not be released as a single until the autumn of 1969 – 50 years ago.

Of course, Album 1700 was an album in my parent’s record collection. And a good one. Eric Andersen’s “Rolling Home” opens up Side 1 and Peter Yarrow’s “The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life)” closes out Side 1. (Note this insightful piece about this anti-war song from Peter, Paul & Mary).

Interestingly, the song spells “Mandala” as “Mandella,” sounding like South African leader Nelson Mandela. What is strange about that is I was telling a family member yesterday about the recent passing of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. She struggled to find any news reports on it and I told her I had read about it in The New York Times that morning. I then added that, “Maybe, this is the ‘Mandela Effect,’ where I heard that Mugabe had died but it was because we slipped into an alternate timeline?”

Oh, and "The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life)" is the B-side to "I Dig Rock and Roll Music."

Eventually she found the story. But I did have a weird feeling that something was off when she, at first, could not locate an article on this notable death of a controversial world figure.

But back to “I Dig Rock and Roll Music.”

I always liked the song because it references the rock scene at the time, including parodies of the Mamas and the Papas, Donovan (particularly his 1966 hit "Sunshine Superman") and the Beatles, all three rock musicians who appear in my book Rock Catapult: The Launch of Modern Rock & Roll.

In the third verse, they sing: “Donovan kind of in a dream-like, tripped out way
His crystal images tell you 'bout a brighter day / And when the Beatles tell you
They've got a word "love" to sell you / They mean exactly what they say

Sell you on “love,” eh? Kinda cynical for the three folkies. In 1970, when the Beatles released their final album, Let It Be, there were two songs with the word “dig” in it: “Dig It” and “Dig a Pony” (the latter song syncing with me recently in regards to "pony" rhyming with the word "stoney" in the lyrics of the song).

 The former, "Dig It," is short where John Lennon references the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone” (Peter, Paul & Mary cover “Bob Dylan’s Dream” on Album 1700 while the Rolling Stones reference it via graffiti on the wall and toilet of a filthy bathroom on the cover of 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet) and B.B.King and BBC and the FBI and CIA – and Doris Day, who died a few months ago and was the mother of Terry Melcher, said to be the original target of the Manson Family.

What is interesting about the Donovan reference in “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” is that I was thinking about him the other day while rewatching David Fincher’s excellent 2007 film Zodiac (which I wrote about here). Not only is Donovan’s groovy/menacing “Hurdy Gurdy Man” played when the serial killer strikes, but Donovan’s own daughter, actor Ione Skye, plays the role of a mother who is briefly kidnapped in her car by the Zodiac. 

So … as I am in the midst of this dream interpretation, I see over at The Kitchen Sync that Eric D. is uploading a video titled “What Is the Meaning of Balloon Symbolism?” This, in light of the new horror film, IT: Chapter Two, a sequel to the 2017 IT film, based on the Stephen King horror novel that had been a horror miniseries back in 1990, an event I recall rather well. This Bustle article addresses the "red balloon" symbolism. Take note.

Pennywise The Dancing Clown’s calling card is his “red balloon,” something I have written about here at Dust Devil Dreams in my 2017 post “The red balloon (yes it is).

As I wrote in the September 13, 2017 post: "All the while, it turns out that It was remade and returned to theaters a week or so after my “red balloon” dream. In fact, in advance of It making it into theaters (with events in the film beginning in October 1988, incredibly enough - a month and year that appear repeatedly here at Dust Devil Dreams, particularly in connection to the 2001 film Donnie Darko) red balloons have been appearing in weird locations around the country – freaking people out.

In fact, the Bangor, Maine Police Department – King’s hometown  and the setting for “Derry, Maine” as featured in the It novel – police said in an Associated Press story that a “red balloon was ‘found’ floating near the department’s stuffed duck, which has been the department’s mascot over the years.”

Perhaps it’s all part of a “viral marketing campaign” for the popular It film, and that an army of evil clowns is not leaving red balloons as calling cards."

And now, this week, Pennywise returns in IT: Chapter Two. My sync pals are starting to see red balloons everywhere, right?

Well, me too. As I was researching this Peter, Paul & Mary sync involving "I Dig Rock and Roll Music" from the Album 1700, I discover that an alternate version of the album cover (the US version featured the trio dressed like Bonnie & Clyde-type gangsters in the 1930's) with the trio sitting on a park bench holding balloons on a string.

Only Mary Travers' balloon - red, of course - is visible on the album cover. This was a disturbing discovery. What I then learned is that Mary Travers suffered - and died - from leukemia on September 16, 2009, just a day short of a month before the "Balloon Boy hoax" of October 15, 2009 gripped America for an afternoon. Millions, including myself, thought a six-year old boy named Falcon Heene was trapped aboard a UFO-shaped balloon traversing the skies of northern Colorado - before it was discovered Falcon was hiding in his parents attic in a box, the whole thing a ruse in hoping to drum up publicity for his troubled father. (To note, Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, two-thirds of Peter, Paul & Mary, are still alive today).

 Here is the piece I wrote the day after the "Balloon Boy" psy-op. Here is a sample paragraph from my October 16, 2009 piece: "Some researchers are suggesting there may be a lot more to this whole episode. The choice of photo at Drudge Report, linked here. The proximity to military installations, the strange Denver International Airport and suggestions that this psy-op, promoted heavily on all the networks, could lead to something known a Project Blue Beam. An Oklahoma City radio talk show host noted yesterday that when the images first appeared on cable news channels, he had the sound down and said, "I thought this was a real flying saucer."

I have a sense that some dramatic psy-op is about to be introduced to the American public (and the wider, planetary citizenry) this autumn. Between the IT clown symbolism and the forthcoming Joker film that is getting all sorts of high praise, I am afraid the joke may soon be on us all.

Dig IT.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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