Monday, August 17, 2015

Take a Message to Mary

Frontier lad gone bad
Goes to jail, and hopes Mary
Doesn't find out why.

"Take a Message to Mary" is an Everly Brothers song, written by the songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Bob Dylan covered it in the 1970 album "Self Portrait." He and producer Bob Johnston give the song a sappy arrangement typical of the times with saccharine female backup vocals and various other accoutrements that you would expect from a TV variety show special of the time. In short: frontier boy turns bad, robs a stagecoach, presumably shoots someone by accident, goes to jail for life, and asks someone to please not tell his girlfriend Mary what he did because he's ashamed of himself. He would rather she believe that he abandoned her, which to me seems at least as bad as saying you turned into a criminal. At least a prison sentence would convey the idea that he's still in love with her, but a victim of his own stupidity, whereas leaving her because he had wandering feet makes him sound like an asshole. But you know what? This has never happened to me, so I can't speak for this young man.

These are the words of a frontier lad
Who lost his love when he turned ba-ad
Take a message to Mary but don't tell ‘er where I am
Take a message to Mary but don't say I'm in a jam
You can tell her I had to see the world or tell ‘er that my ship set sail
You can say she better not wait for me but don't tell her I'm in jail
Oh, don't tell her I'm in jail
Take a message to Mary but don't tell ‘er what I've done
Please don't mention the stagecoach and the shot from a careless gun
You can tell her I had to change my plans and cancel out the wedding day
But please don't mention my lonely cell where I'm gonna pine away
Until my dying day
Take a message to Mary but don't tell ‘er all you know
My heart's achin?for Mary, Lord knows I miss her so
Just tell her I went to Timbuktu, tell her I'm searchin?for gold
You can say she better find someone new to cherish and to hold
Oh, Lord, this cell is cold
Ma-ary, Ma-a-a-a-ary
Oh, Lord this cell is cold




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