About The Song
A song written by Peter Yarrow (of the folk music trio Peter, Paul, & Mary) and Phillip Jarrell, “Torn Between Two Lovers” describes a love triangle and laments that “loving both of persons is breaking all the rules.”
Yarrow originally intended the song to be sung by a man, but it was ultimately made famous by a woman, Mary MacGregor, who recorded it in 1976. The song became the title track of MacGregor’s first album. “Torn Between Two Lovers” reached no. 1 on both the U.S. pop chart in February 1977 as well as the easy listening chart in the final week of 1976 and the first week of 1977. It also reached number one on the corresponding Canadian charts. The song also peaked at #3 on the country charts of both nations. In early 1977, the song peaked at #4 in the United Kingdom.
Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mary MacGregor studied classical piano at the age of six. Within eight years, she was singing professionally with a local big band. After attending the University of Minnesota, Mary began touring the rest of the country with various folk, R&B, and rock bands.
It was during one of these national tours that she caught the attention of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary. Impressed with her double-octave range, Yarrow invited her to join him on a national tour as a backup vocalist. Her blossoming vocal talent led to her first solo endeavor, produced by Yarrow, the fateful “Torn Between Two Lovers.”
In one of her interviews, Mary stated,
“I never liked the song too much, and I still don’t. There are just some songs I like, and some I don’t, and this is one of them. Peter and I had a very long relationship. We’re both very emotional people, and whenever we got together it was a very volatile experience. Sometimes it was positive, sometimes negative, and on this particular song we had a lot of fights. Was it really good? Was it going to make it? We had a lot of discussions about this song.”
“For me to sing anything, I have to get emotionally involved. That’s what really makes it for me. I didn’t like ‘Torn’ mostly because it was boring to sing. It’s a real ‘sleeper’ kind of ballad. Peter thought it was a real statement, and he wanted it to happen. He wanted a woman to sing it, and he wanted that woman to be me.”