I Dig You Baby But I Got To Keep Movin’

In case you did not notice my pattern, all of my posts this week that I have written were about Mary.  I started out with The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix, then I did Mary Lou by Young Jessie followed by Mary Ann by Ray Charles.  On Thursday I wrote about Hello Mary Lou by Gene Pitney and yesterday I did Cross-Eyed Mary by Ian Anderson, which leaves Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for today.  This song is hard to figure out, because it is usually interpreted two different ways, being either about marijuana or a song that says goodbye to a lover, which is what I am going with.  Petty said that Mary Jane is the same character as the female that he wrote about in his ‘American Girl’ song.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers formed in 1975 and signed on with Shelter Records, releasing ‘Breakdown’ and ‘American Girl’ under the label.  Petty sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar, Mike Campbell played lead guitar, Ron Blair played bass, Stan Lynch was on drums and Benmont Tench played keyboards.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and he sold more than 80 million records in his career.

‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ was written by Tom Petty and it was recorded on July 22, 1993.  It was produced by Rick Rubin, guitarist Mike Campbell, and Tom Petty and it was first released as part of the Greatest Hits album.  It rose to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first Billboard Top 20 hit of the 1990s, and it also topped the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart for two weeks.  This song was the B-Side of ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’.  ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ charted #52 in the U.K.

Guitarist Mike Campbell gave an explanation of how this song came together and he insists that it was simply a sad love song to an “Indiana girl on an Indiana night.”   Mike Campbell said that ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ was written in his garage, while he and Tom were jamming.  It was called ‘Indiana Girl’, and the first chorus was “Hey, Indiana Girl, go out and find the world.”  Rick Rubin who won eight Grammys and two CMAs and worked with artists such as LL Cool J, Kanye West, Slayer, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, Metallica, Run-DMC, Aerosmith and Adele suggested that they make this song into a record.  It had actually been around for a while, just the basic riff and that chorus.  They cut the song and Tom was singing the chorus, and he decided he just couldn’t get behind singing about ‘Hey, Indiana Girl’, so they went back and about a week later Tom came in and said “I’ve got a better idea”, changing the chorus to “Last dance with Mary Jane.”  In the verse there is still the thing about an Indiana girl on an Indiana night, just when it gets to the chorus, Tom gave it a deeper meaning.

Mary Jane grew up in a small town in Indiana, where there was not much to do.  Her mother looked real fine, but she was not a great parent, leaving Mary Jane unsupervised most of the time.  In spite of this, Mary Jane learned how to handle herself, so she would not become prey for those Indiana boys who would try to impose their will on her.  At the age of 18, Mary Jane moves out of her Indiana town and arrived at this new place, wherever that was.  The boys in this new place were blown away, as they had never seen a girl like Mary Jane before.

This guy meets her and they get along very well, however she tells this guy that even though she likes him she doesn’t want to be tied down, because she needs to keep moving.  Mary Jane has this past, which she is trying to escape from, and she thinks that her future is hopeless.  It is getting close to summer, the weather is comfortable and she thinks that this might be a good time for her to move again, especially since she has already grown tired of this town.  Mary Jane feels that if she slows down her life style that will make her grow old.  She realizes that she has screwed up a lot and she says that she is, “tired of goin’ down”, which might be a sexual innuendo.  She is depressed, tired of herself, and tired of this town, but while she is still here she will put on that party dress, hope someone buy her a drink, and sings her a song.  She knows that this will be her last hurrah and she says, “Take me as I come ‘cause I can’t stay long.”

Mary Jane is looking out of her hotel window and she sees that there are pigeons down in Market Square.  She wants to have a good time in this town, knowing that this will be her last night here.  She has not gotten dressed yet, so she’s standing in her underwear in her hotel room aware that nightfall will be coming soon.  It is time for her to put on that party dress.  The next day it is cold and the guy wants to cry, because Mary Jane split and he woke up alone.  He took a hit from his last joint, then he walked to the road, thinking about his last dance with Mary Jane.  He is probably going to get some more weed to kill the pain, as he has also become tired of this town.

The award winning video for ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ features Tom Petty playing a mortician and Kim Basinger playing a dead girl.  It is certainly unique, a bit creepy, but also amusing as the lonely morgue assistant abducts a cadaver, zips up this dead girl in a bag and wheels the beauty out on a trolley and drives her to his home, the dead Basinger is flopping around on his front seat.  He props her down on a couch in front of an old fashioned TV, then dresses the corpse up in a wedding gown sitting her at long wooden dining room table.  He applies ruby red lipstick and they have a romantic candlelight dinner.  In the glistening moonlight he carries her to the shoreline, and dumps the body into the cresting waves. The ending is eerie as her eyes are wide open under the water.  The music video was directed by Keir McFarlane and it won best video at MTV.

She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good lookin’ momma who never was around
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night

Well she moved down here at the age of eighteen
She blew the boys away, it was more than they’d seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin’
She said, “I dig you baby but I got to keep movin’…on, keep movin’ on”

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Well I don’t know what I’ve been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I’m tired of screwing up, I’m tired of goin’ down
I’m tired of myself, I’m tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come ‘cause I can’t stay long

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

There’s pigeons down in Market Square
She’s standin’ in her underwear
Lookin’ down from a hotel room
Nightfall will be comin’ soon
Oh my my, oh hell yes
You’ve got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit the last number, I walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Impose and for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Unique.

13 thoughts on “I Dig You Baby But I Got To Keep Movin’

    1. The lyrics do not seem to match the video, except that part where they are dancing. I could be off on my analysis, but I am probably pretty close. I do have 3 more Mary songs, but I am not sure when I will write about them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nah! She is busy with family matters.. No worries Jim. By the way I’m hearing bad news about American weather for this week I hope it’s nothing too serious on your side. I already know about DC snow watch and California wildfires… Hope things get better..

        Liked by 1 person

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