SFF Song of the Week: Lee Harris

Lee Harris is one of the nicest and most indefatigable and enthusiastic guys in the SF universe – editor of the online magazine The Hub, and now a head honcho for the flourishing publshing imprint Angry Robot. And his choice today REALLY made me smile. 

Over to you Lee…

Lee Harris writes:
Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary
Everyone under the age of 12 loves dragons, and I was no different when I was a lad. Even now, listening to this song brings back vivid memories of sitting in Nan’s living room, watching her old black and white television, and playing with her ageing Lego bricks. I was always able to listen to this song over and over again, and never tire of it, and I always felt sorry for Puff at the end of the song.
Many years later, when I heard that the song was actually about the consumption of drugs, I ignored that interpretation, preferring to accept the words at face value, rather than listen to the alleged subtext. Many years after that I learned that the drug interpretation of the song was actually a fallacy, a cruel urban legend, and that the song really was designed to be taken at face value – a tale about growing older, leaving childish things behind, and how leaving changed others.
And now? I can still listen to it over and over again, and I still feel sorry for Puff at the end. Who can fail to be moved by the line: His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain, Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to it again. Anyone have a spare tissue? I seem to have a bit of grit caught in my eye…

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giants’ rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

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