Noel Paul Stookey: One time Peter, Paul And Mary man finds faith

Tuesday 1st May 1990

One time 60s hitmaker NOEL PAUL STOOKEY comes to know Jesus

Noel Paul Stookey
Noel Paul Stookey

Noel Paul Stookey found there was more to life that the folk-rock circuit. Hits like "Puff The Magic Dragon" and "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" took Peter, Paul And Mary into the big time throughout the 60s.

"Peter, Paul & Mary's music," says Noel Paul Stookey, the "Paul" of the trio, "always acknowledged the fact that people had hope and were aspiring to be more than they were. The problem was that the music didn't specify any particular ways to accomplish being more. And that's what I missed in my personal life and my performing life until I came to know Jesus in 1968." Noel's searching trek, which led to salvation began in the mid '60s, when he became disenchanted with himself. There was one person on the stage in front of the huge audiences, but there was another Noel inside. "I had built this apparatus that had the face of Noel," he told Christianity Today, "whose arms and legs moved and went through all the right motions. But somewhere inside of me there was a little boy who wanted to be closer to what it was that made him happy. And he wasn't finding it with this image. I had begun to see that there was a difference between what I was singing and what I was living."

His search led him to some interesting people. In 1976, he went to a fellow musician, an acquaintance from the folk-club days in New York; he felt that Bob Dylan was showing in his introspective songs that he might have a better grasp on what life was all about. Bob's advice was simple, yet effective. "He suggested a visit to Michigan," Noel explains, "where I had spent my formative years, and he said I should review the scenes of my youth with the perspective of the present." And second, Bob said read the Bible. Dylan wasn't a Christian at the time, but he did read the Bible as literature, and evidently had found some value in the reading; enough to make such a suggestion to Stookey. Then, in 1968, following a Peter, Paul & Mary concert in Austin, Texas, a young man approached Noel backstage and said that he wanted to talk to him about the Lord. Noel agreed ("I felt the adrenalin surge"), and they went to the singer's motel room. "We got to rapping," Noel recalls. "I had been reading the New Testament and looking for some kind of moral way to live my life - something more fulfilling than what I had. It was terrific what happened that night! I asked Jesus to come into my life, and I cried, and.... oh! We had a fantastic time! It was a very cleansing experience." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


 

Reader Comments

Posted by Carol Denardo in Rutland, Vermont @ 06:45 on Aug 30 2018

I am a child of the 60s who loves Folk Music. Peter Paul and Mary was, is and always will be my favorite. The Wedding Song has to be my favorite of all your work. With today's godless, liberal society, what do you think of the oxymoron called "same-sex marriage?" I hope you will agree that it is sexual perversion as homosexuality is a sin.Yours in Christ, Carol



Posted by Craig Blann in Fort Madison, Iowa @ 01:21 on Mar 13 2016

I know I have read about Noel becoming a Christian but I heard a recent interview with him and he kinda downplayed his Christian faith. I was wondering why he downplayed it. Craig



Posted by Thelma Bracken Engm in Salt Lake City,Utah @ 04:45 on Jun 4 2015

Hi Paul, this is your 1st cousin,your Dad uncle George was my favorite uncle as I was growing up. You certainly have his sense of humor. My brothers and sister were Don, Stan, Melvin, Jean and me all growing up in Tooele county. Don't know if you remember us,but just watched your special of 50 years and really enjoyed it. Sorry to hear of Mary's passing. D



Posted by James Vincent in Chardon Oh. USA @ 00:49 on Feb 6 2012

Enjoying all the music articles, but I would really like to know what ever became of David Israel/Eastman.



Posted by Douglas Mann in Kentucky @ 01:12 on Nov 11 2010

To Paul, you song" Wait'll You Hear this" speaks to me.
The depth of concept could only come from
the Holy Spirit. If I had the chance I would ask you to come over Sunday night , and sing around a fire, giving
Jesus all the praise. If not some day we will do that, anyway.



The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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