Mary Jane's Last Dance
Mary Jane's Last Dance is a rock song recorded on 1993-07-22, and first released on 1993-11-16 as track 17 on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Greatest Hits. The song was also released as a single around the same time, first with The Waiting and sometimes a live version of American Girl as b-sides, but later releases featured other songs as b-sides. In the UK, two 4-track singles were released with completely different b-sides.
The song was written by Tom Petty and produced by Rick Rubin, Mike Campbell, and Petty. On the recording, Petty sings and plays rhythm guitar (and I assume harmonica, but I can't find proof), Campbell plays lead electric guitar, Howie Epstein plays bass guitar and sings backing vocals, Stan Lynch plays drums, and Benmont Tench plays keyboards.
The song describes an attractive Indiana teenage girl name Mary Jane whose absent parents caused her to mature early and develop a wanderlust. The song is sung from the perspective of a male figure who falls in love with her and sees her as his savior, someone who who can take away his pain, and help get him out of his home town. There is a possibility that he is much older than she is due to the lyrics "I don't know, but I've been told, you never slow down, you never grow old," suggesting he's unhappy about getting old, but, if he sticks with this energetic woman, she'll keep him young. Unfortunately for the man, after staying the night with her, she disappears, and his heart is broken. The song is pretty obviously about drugs as well as the girl's name is "Mary Jane," (slang for marijuana) and "dancing" with her kills the pain. Also, after Mary Jane leaves, the man "hits a last number," (slang for a joint). I don't think the song is purely about a man's relationship with marijuana because the description of Mary Jane as an attractive human female is pretty detailed.
The music video features a coroner (played by Petty) becoming obsessed with a beautiful corpse (played by Kim Basinger). The coroner steals the body, dons a tuxedo and dresses the corpse in a wedding dress, then has dinner with it and dances with it, and eventually dumps it into the ocean, only to have the woman come back to life. It's creepy, and I like it.
I heard this song shortly after it was released because my older brother was a fan of Petty and listened to it a lot which caused me to develop an appreciation for it as well. I love the electric guitar intro, and the harmonica between verses. I also like the meter of lyrics like, "I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of goin' down, tired of myself, tired of this town," and, "oh my my, oh hell yes, honey, put on that party dress." Also, due to Petty's narrow vocal range, this is a song that is within my own range to sing for karaoke.
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, the age of 18. 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, but I've been told, You never slow down, you never grow old. I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of goin' down, Tired of myself, 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 on Market Square. She's standin' in her underwear, Lookin' down from a hotel room. The 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.
- youtube.com/watch?v=aowSGxim_O8 - Official music video.
- youtube.com/watch?v=x2HEbpqpPN8 - Live at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, 1994-09-08.
- youtube.com/watch?v=8BfG_GQSf-E - Live, 2006.
- youtube.com/watch?v=7tobiivxZm8 - Live From Gatorville