Countdown Kid # 97: Mary Lou

After three years of rather intense study I am now at the point where it is still a surprise to discover new songs that I do not know yet. Still loving the long road of discovery!

This is what Countdown Kids says about Mary Lou:

Bruce never found a home for this song, though the fact that some lyrics show up in different incarnations elsewhere leads me to believe he gave it a good try. Eventually released on Tracks, “Mary Lou” might have been a tough fit for any album because of its very specific subject matter: A girl who’s mesmerized by movie stars and transfers that fascination to her real life by dating guys who are only out for good times that last about as long as your average motion picture.

Still, it’s a fun romp that lingers in the memory long after “the credits roll.” Unlike some of the stuff onTracks which feels half-finished, “Mary Lou” is a fully realized band performance. Many of the elements were later borrowed for “Bobby Jean,” including the staccato double-shots of piano and Clarence Clemons’ nostalgic sax solo. Throw in some Byrds-y guitar licks and Max’s rolling-thunder snares and you’ve got a track that seems tailor-made for radio consumption, even though it never made it there.

If you look past the surface of Bruce’s silver-screen references, you’ll find a pretty affecting portrait of a man who’s trying to get through to this girl before it’s too late. The movie stuff is a way for him to make her understand, but his message is a serious one: You can only go down so many romantic wrong turns; at some point, you can’t turn back.

Thank you to Angela Cotena for the sketch!

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