. . .
The second single from Dear 23 is the one that I actually remember as a single, of course that’s probably because I ended up buying the CD single in order to hear one of the b-sides, a cover of Big Star’s “Feel.” Which, of course, was the first time I realized just how much of Big Star fans Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow were.
A soaring swirling piece of mid-tempo power-pop goodness which steals the beat from XTC’s “Towers of London,” Jon Auer’s “Suddenly Mary” is another cautionary tale about getting married too young and perhaps to the wrong person.
I awoke from a peaceful sleep and found my clothes under the table
Aesop used to make me weep but now I’m part of Mary’s fable
Suddenly Mary fell in the water
I found myself married to somebody’s daughter
Neither as big as either or “Golden Blunders” or (especially) “Any Other Way,” “Suddenly Mary” gets by on the exquisite harmonies that Auer and Ken Stringfellow essay throughout. From the opening “hmmmmmmmms” to the dagger-in-the-heart ending “suddenly, Mary’s fine.” In between all of that, they alternate the bouncing rhythm with a psychedelic phaseshifting section after which Auer confesses his desperation.
“Loving,” she told me
“Is a question of bravery”
But when she started to hold me
It was closer to slavery
Now perhaps that’s a bit too much, metaphorically speaking, even though it sounded pretty cool with all of the effects. Much more down-to-earth was the opening of the final verse.
I got up for a bite to eat and found my clothes inside the icebox
I used to stand on my own two feet but now I sit when my new wife talks
Ouch! In 1991, at least, it seemed like the guy in the song had been trapped — or trapped himself — into this situation, and it felt like, I dunno, a validation of a decision I’d just made to let a relationship end instead of getting married. I just wasn’t ready, and in fact, for a long time “Suddenly Mary” was almost too intense for me. Then I got both more mature and married, and it went from seeming like a warning to just a great song.
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