I Dig Rock and Roll Music
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|"I Dig Rock and Roll Music"|
|Single by Peter, Paul and Mary|
|from the album Album 1700|
"I Dig Rock and Roll Music" is a song recorded in 1967 by the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, ridiculing rock music (which by the time of this song's recording had almost eclipsed folk music). The writing credits are given as Stookey-Mason-Dixon. Stookey is the "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary. "Mason" is musician and producer Jim Mason. "Dixon" is Dave Dixon, who was later a popular air personality on progressive rock radio station WABX in Detroit. The tune peaked at #9 on the Billboard Top 100. The song is one of the few PP&M singles not to appear on Billboard's Easy Listening survey, although it did make the Record World "Non-Rock" listing.
The song first appeared on the group's 1967 LP Album 1700, and has appeared on retrospective collections since then. It includes several lyrical and musical references to contemporary "rock" artists, including The Mamas & the Papas, Donovan, and The Beatles. For example, the first verse includes backing vocals in the style of "Monday, Monday" (1966) by The Mamas & The Papas while making sarcastic reference to the group's alleged lyrical shortcomings ("They got a good thing goin'/When the words don't get in the way"). The Beatles are accused of being interested mainly in money, while singing about love ("And when the Beatles tell you/They've got a word 'love' to sell you/They mean exactly what they say"). The song's final verse suggests that hidden messages can be included in rock and roll songs, but they must be hidden "between the lines" in order to make them suitable for commercial radio airplay.
In an interview with the Chicago Daily News in 1966, a year before the song's appearance, the group's female singer, Mary Travers, had said of rock, "it's so badly written. ... When the fad changed from folk to rock, they didn't take along any good writers." The song mocks not only the performers of rock, but its listeners as well, in the person of the lyric's narrator: "I figure, it's about the happiest sound goin' down today/The message may not move me/Or mean a great deal to me/But hey, it feels so groovy to say/I dig the Mamas and the Papas."
The line about Donovan "his crystal images" refers to the mention of "crystal spectacles" in "Epistle to Dippy," and the volume swell on the electric guitar notes on that verse is copied from Donovan's 1966 song "Sunshine Superman". The backing vocal effect in the Beatles impersonation reflects the songs "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need is Love."
The backing band for the recording included members of the Toronto-based folk-rock band The Paupers, having recently made a splash in their U.S. debut opening for Jefferson Airplane, also making their East Coast debut, at Cafe Au Go Go.