“Puff, the Magic Dragon” is a song about an imaginary dragon and a little boy, Jackie Paper, who play together. Eventually the boy grows up and no longer comes to play with his dragon any more, which leaves the dragon very sad. The song was made famous by folk-singing group “Peter, Paul and Mary” and their 1962 recording reached number 2 on the Hot 100 chart before reaching the top of the easy listening chart early the next year. The song has led to a number of spin-offs, including a book and an animated television movie and sequels. Let’s take a look at who wrote this famous song.
Who wrote “Puff, the Magic Dragon”?
Many of the original lyrics to “Puff, the Magic Dragon” were written in 1959 by the 19 year old student Leonard Lipton. He was inspired by the poem “Custard the Dragon” and used a typewriter at his friends house to get it out of his head. The typewriter belonged to Peter Yarrow, who went onto form “Peter, Paul and Mary.” A few years later Yarrow tried to contact Lipton to give him credit for the lyrics. Eventually he tracked him down and offered half of the songwriting credit, because Yarrow had also written/changed some of the lyrics himself. Amazingly, Lipton still receives royalties from the song today!
Did you know?
There is much speculation about the meaning of the song. One of the most popular theories is that the song is about smoking marijuana. However, the writers have both distanced themselves from this urban legend and maintain that the song is about the reality of growing older.