Wedding Song: Paul Stookey

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Peter, Paul And MaryPeter, Paul And Mary are remembered as one of the quintessential American folk music acts. They were formed in New York City in 1961 by manager Albert Grossman. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1962. It included the singles “Lemon Tree” and “If I Had A Hammer.”  They would go on to release over 20 albums, including compilations and best of collections.

Folk music was as much about issues as it was the music, and Peter, Paul and Mary were active in the social issues of the day. They performed at the 1963 March on Washington, the Selma-Montgomery March and were organizers of the 1969 March on Washington. Stookey is a born-again Christian and his faith played a pivotal role in his social consciousness.

They enjoyed critical and commercial success. They wrote their own songs and covered songs by other artists, placing many on radio charts, including “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” their only #1 song, which was written by John Denver.

The trio parted ways in 1970 and each recorded as a solo artist. Stookey wrote “Wedding Song (There Is Love)” in 1969 and performed it at Peter Yarrow’s wedding, Paul was best man. Yarrow had asked Paul to “sing a song to bless his wedding.” After the wedding Stookey believed he would never sing the song again.

A few weeks later at a concert Peter asked Paul if he would sing it on stage. “I couldn’t do that,” Paul responded. “It was just for your wedding.” Peter answered, “My bride is out there. Would you sing it for her?” Paul included the song on his first solo project, “Paul And,” which was released in 1971.

The song is still sung at weddings around the world. It was sung at my wedding. Read more on the story of this song, as recounted by Noel Paul Stookey himself in an article he wrote for “Guideposts” in 1993 here.

Here’s a video of Paul performing the song in 1986.

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