It’s time to set the record straight. “Puff the Magic Dragon,” unlike any given Beatles song, is not a veiled allusion to drugs.
The first song I remember ever hearing was “Lemon Tree” by Peter, Paul and Mary. Songs by this sixties folk trio have played in the background of my life from my earliest childhood on the coast of Ecuador to my high school years in the Andes mountains. I love their songs to this day. As much as I’ve come to enjoy other styles of music, from rock and ska to chiptunes and the odd spot of dubstep, I will always find Peter, Paul and Mary’s harmonies beautiful.
Peter, Paul and Mary are remembered for performing hits like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and, perhaps most infamously, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” The lyrics of this last song tell of a boy and a dragon who enjoy merry adventures together. When the boy grows up, he abandons the dragon to grief and loneliness.
I suppose the boy’s odd adventures could be considered a metaphor for drug trips, and yes, the dragon’s name could be an obvious nod to smoking marijuana.
In the end, however, “Puff the Magic Dragon” was simply a poem by a college student about the passing of childhood. After the poet had gotten it out of his head, he forgot about it until Peter Yarrow (the Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary) turned it into a song and credited him with the lyrics.
So let it be known to all people that “Puff the Magic Dragon” has no meaning except the obvious one. Peter, Paul and Mary are acquitted. Case dismissed!