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Mary Jane's Last Dance

by

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Mike Campbell is The Heartbreakers' guitarist. He told us how this came together:
"That song took on a few shapes. It was written in my garage. I didn't write it, but we were jamming in the garage and Tom was playing one of my guitars. It was called 'Indiana Girl,' the first chorus was 'Hey, Indiana Girl, go out and find the world.' We liked the song and Rick Rubin suggested we cut it. It had actually been around for a while, just the basic riff and that chorus. We cut the song and Tom was singing the chorus, and he decided he just couldn't get behind singing about 'Hey, Indiana Girl,' so we went back and about a week later he came in and said 'I've got a better idea,' so he changed 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 he had the presence of mind to give it a deeper meaning."
Petty has not said what this is about, but there are two common interpretations. It could be about Petty's divorce from his wife Jane, which happened a year before this was recorded. Another possibility is that it is about marijuana, as "Mary Jane" is slang for pot and the lyrics refer to killing the pain, which the drug is known for. Campbell offered this explanation: "My take on it is it can be whatever you want it to be. A lot of people think it's a drug reference, and if that's what you want to think, it very well could be, but it could also just be a goodbye love song."
Petty made some strange videos, and this was no exception. Tom played a mortician who takes home a corpse played by Kim Basinger. When he gets her home, he puts her in a wedding dress and dances with her. Then he puts her in a pickup truck and throws her into the ocean, and she opens her eyes as she sinks. It won Best Male Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Basinger was not the first choice for the video. Petty wanted Sharon Stone, but she didn't answer his request.
Petty played the guitar solo at the end after Campbell persuaded him to do it. Mike is known as an outstanding guitarist, but he thought Tom had a good sound going, so he told him to play a fuzzy sort of guitar solo. Says Mike, "He actually played a nice little bit at the end of that."
Campbell: "An interesting thing about that record, the same day we did the last overdubs, that guitar and a few little bits, we did a rough mix here at my house, just did it by hand. Then we went to 3 or 4 different studios over the next couple of weeks and tried to do a proper mix, and we could never beat that rough mix, so that was the mix we put out. It's an interesting track, it's very inaccurate, it's kind of greasy and loose. That day we just gelled and every time we mixed it we could clean up the sound and make it more posh, but it just didn't have the juice that one mix had." (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell.)
In 2006, The Red Hot Chili Peppers released "Dani California," which sounded very similar to this and was also produced by Rick Rubin. Petty showed no interest in suing the band, as they felt it was not malicious. The first 8 bars of both songs sound similar, but the chords are different. In this song, the chords are "Am, G, D, Am" and in "Dani California," the chords are "Am, G, Dm, Am." Both of these chord progressions are very common in Rock music. (thanks, Bert - Pueblo, NM)
Petty told Mojo magazine January 2010 that Mary Jane is the same character as the female in "American Girl," "with a few hard knocks."
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Artistfacts
More Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers songs
More songs with girls' names in the title
More songs that won MTV Video Music Awards
More songs with famous people in the video
More songs produced by Rick Rubin

Comments (75):

I love this song... lyrically, it's about anything you'd like it to be.
- Jim, Novi, MI
The parody master, Bob Rivers, did a spoof this song after Tonya Harding was banned for trying to break Nancy Kerrigan's knee and Playboy had (inexplicably) offered her a bundle to take it all off:

"Last skate for Tonya H. Now she'll have to earn an honest wage.
I heard Playboy wants her skin, but I'd rather see Nancy Kerrigannnn.'
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
Funny thing... the people who say to quit trying to interpret the lyrics, the 'deeper meaning'. That's one of the fun things about this website you knuckleheads!!!! If the Songwriters/Artists didn't want people discussing such, they'd be sure to explain the 'true meaning' on their albums/websites etc. That's what ART is about...creating something for people to muse over and apply it the way they see it. And last I knew, music IS a form of Art.
- Doobie , Seattle, WA
May I put in my two-cents worth of my opinion as to the meaning behind this song? Take a look at how old Tom Petty was when he wrote it. 41. It's my humble opinion that the song is about his youth. Not pot or a ghost. Mary Jane refers to his younger days; "I feel summer creepin' in" means he's started looking at the calender (as we all start doing around the age of 40) and has begun to realize he's not gonna be young forever and there isn't really enough time left to do the things he hasn't already done. In the video, he buries the past after one last dance (symbolizing a last "look", if you will, at his yountrising of the corpse at the end, with eyes open, means one's youth doesn't really have to completely disappear; but must at this ripe old age begin to sit in the background and now it's time to act as an adult. That, for better or worst, is my humble opinion.
- Michael, Kissimmee, FL
RESURRECTION MARY, CHICAGO'S MOST ELUSIVE GHOST! There is so much to say about this apparition. Although, actually from Chicago, not Indiana, thje song really fits this story in an unusually eerie: Here is a basic synopsis: Chicago is a city filled with ghosts, from haunted houses to ghostly graveyards. But of all of the tales, there is one that rises above all of the others. I like to think of Resurrection Mary as Chicago’s most famous ghost. It is also probably my favorite ghost story of all time. It has all of the elements of the fantastic from the beautiful female spirit to actual eyewitness sightings that have yet to be debunked. There is much about the story that appeals to me and I never tire of hearing or talking about Mary, her sightings and her mysterious origins.


Experience the Ghosts, Local Legends & Best Kept Secrets of the Windy City!

Weird Chicago Tours!

Although stories of "vanishing hitchhikers" in Chicago date back to the horse and buggy days, Mary’s tale begins in the 1930’s. It was around this time that drivers along Archer Avenue started reporting strange encounters with a young woman in a white dress. She always appeared to be real, until she would inexplicably vanish. The reports of this girl began in the middle 1930’s and started when motorists passing by Resurrection Cemetery began claiming that a young woman was attempting to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles.

Not long after, the woman became more mysterious, and much more alluring. The strange encounters began to move further away from the graveyard and closer to the O Henry Ballroom, which is now known as the Willowbrook. She was now reported on the nearby roadway and sometimes, inside of the ballroom itself. On many occasions, young men would meet a girl at the ballroom, dance with her and then offer her a ride home at the end of the evening. She would always accept and offer vague directions that would lead north on Archer Avenue. When the car would reach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman would always vanish.

More common were the claims of motorists who would see the girl walking along the road. They would offer her a ride and then witness her vanishing from their car. These drivers could describe the girl in detail and nearly every single description precisely matched the previous accounts. The girl was said to have light blond hair, blue eyes and was wearing a white party dress. Some more attentive drivers would sometimes add that she wore a thin shawl, or dancing shoes, and that she had a small clutch purse. http://www.prairieghosts.com/resurcem.html
- Jerry, Shenyang, China
I once read an article in which Tom Petty is quoted as saying "I had to get a really beautiful girl to play the part of Mary Jane in the video. Someone who is so beautiful that it would be believable that some freak would steal her out of the morgue. Hence, Kim Basinger was right for this part." If the song is about marijuana so what? If the song is about a breakup with a girl so what? It's a great song and I just enjoy it without trying to analyze the "deeper" meaning. Tom Petty is GREAT!!!
- Tracy, Shreveport, LA
How about a girl that was initially similar to the narrator until she got addicted to pot and stuck in the dead end world of Mary Jwana addiction. She starts to suck the narrator in but he realizes he has to move on. But not before one last dance.......
John, Wheaton, IL
- john, Wheaton, IL
I dont know guys. there is alot of references in here, alot of slangs that as a FORMER mary J user I was well familiar with! like.. she grew up tall and she grew up right- the way you want the plants to grow- Indiana boys/ indiana nights- one huge pot growing state right there! Marijuana remains the most readily available, and health officials report, the most commonly abused drug in Indiana. Multikilogram amounts of marijuana are transported to Indiana from the Southwest Border by Mexican DTOs using the interstate system and the same decoy vehicle methods used to transport cocaine.In 1999, the U.S. Attorneys for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana reported that marijuana was the most widely abused drug throughout the state. okay- I was introduced- but I got to keep moving on- Looking for a better drug- a "higher" high- last dance with mary jane. Put on that party dress- well I dont know about the rest of yall, but this is what we called a Blunt- party dress- packs more pot and a longer lasting high, you can smoke yourself stupid it you smoke it alone but we liked to have a few heads on it- hence the party part. hit my last number, walked to the road- he called his dealer, walked to the road to wait on him to drop off his stuff. just what i think. could be wrong!!! haha.
- KelitaBlue, sylvestser, GA
It's amazing how many comments were posted here, chewing over what the song was really about, AFTER Maryjane (4th comment) posted her explanation comment that it was about her and why. I've written many songs through the years, and almost always did everything I possibly could to avoid using the person('s) real name(s) - but, once or twice, there was no way around it; it had to be, and so it became. That's why I believe her, and it makes perfect sense to me that the song began as "Indiana Girl" and ended up being "Mary Jane's Last Dance". As for the idea of drug reference, well, why not? Saying something in a way that creates double entendre (2 meanings at once) is the dance of the muse, for songwriters.
- Scruffy, Watersmeet, MI
this song is obviously about weed. its about struggling to quit and fighting the resistance to move onto harder drugs.
- Muammar, Richmond, VA
Tom Petty was not shook up about leaving his wife, Jane. In fact, he walked out on her because she was mean and nasty. So, it must have been about "hooch". Heard it first hand, baby.
- val, cleveland, OH
I think he wrote this whole song just to piss all you people off. Who cares what the song is actually about? Ever consider he just wrote it and it worked??
- Ashley, Madison, WI
i think pretty much anyone who has smoked weed will know this song is about green. & weed isn't addicting, but the feeling it gives you can become addicting, and it can really take over your entire life and mind, i'm a recovering "pot head." & i think the video actually makes a lot of sense if you think of the dead girl as a metaphor for weed. him dancing around and having dinner with this dead chick is so weird and pointless, just like weed is, but you can't help it, you kind of "fall in love" with it. at the end she opens her eyes as if she's going to come back around, just like weed, you may think your over and done with it, but it always comes back around. & before you realize it you're back to smoking all over again. i'm a very deep person though. honestly, i think you should just take the song however it makes sense to you & personalize it to fit your life.
- brit, frederick, MD
Karen, did you know sarcasm, irony, & subtext exists? rockers have always written sex and drug songs carefully disguised so authority figures wouldn't freak out. petty is ridiculing people like you by making pot absurdly obvious. ask any 18yo boy what he means!
- andy, lake city, FL
Andy, Lake City, FL: "what does a man have to DO to write a simple DRUG SONG and not have people throw in ridiculous misinterpretations about a girl?!!!!" I ask, "what does a man have to DO to write a simple Song about a girl and not have people throw in ridiculous misinterpretations about drugs?!!!!" :)
- Karen, Manchester, NH
This song is so obviously not about weed. Just read the lyrics. The girl moves out of Indiana to see the world and meets the narrator. He falls for her but she has to keep moving. Then the narrator hits the road to find her looking for that one last dance. Without her he's been screwing up and just in a downward spiral. When he finally does catch up with her she throws herself out of a hotel window "nightfall will be comin soon". Its a sad love song. One of my favorites.
- Anthony, Cherry Hill, NJ
I definatley agree with brett. It's about getting over pot, obviously. It's not that hard to figure put, but it's still not too clear. Don't go all crazy on me, either, because i've never touched marijuana as long as I've lived- a swear to God.
- Ryan, Somewhere in, NJ
There's only one thing I have to say about the video to this song...Kim Bassinger!
- Thomas, Somerville, AL
The prom queen of La Fontaine High School, the prettiest and most popular girl in Wabash County, the one who put out for all the (right) boys, finds herself stuck in Indianapolis having been used by (and having to "go down" on) one man after another, and here she is left behind (by the narrator) again. If there's any pot in the song, it's probably being smoked by the girl to kill the pain.
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
However, Tom Petty writes alot of clever songs referring "closely" to pot. He's been notorious for it. In "You Don't Know How It Feels", he had to change the lyrics for MTV and he used some wordplay there as well. So I guess it's like anything else, it's all in the eye of the beholder...
- matt, steubenville, OH
The more I read the lyrics, this song just can't be about pot. I feel the exact opposite of the first post. Why do all you potheads have to twist every song around and make it all about drugs...lol. Also, it's not listed in the lyrics on this site, but I've seen plenty of tab's for this song that use the lyrics "one more time to kill the flame" and if you listen to the song close, it kinda sounds more like flame. Now, I guess you could flip that around too and say it refers to pot too...but it just sounds alot more like a one night stand type romance given the general context of the ENTIRE song...
- matt, steubenville, OH
what does a man have to DO to write a simple DRUG SONG and not have people throw in ridiculous misinterpretations about a girl?!!!! petty is clearly describing his PERSONAL experience on weed and the memory, concentration, anxiety, and depression problems. maybe he quits for a girlfriend, but mostly because the ups down match the downs..."i hit my last number (joint) and walked to the road (to being straight) sometimes drug "metaphors" are direct drug experiences.
- andy, lake city, FL
Definately about Pot, Last dance with mary jane goes so good with it haha..
- Anthony, Cape May, NJ
I always thought it was about pot but I never knew he got divorced from a woman named mary so I guess it could go both ways. I recond it is just the way you look at it. I've had my last dance but it wasn't with a woman named Jane.Best thing in the world is to just say "NAY".
- Joe, Tecumseh, OK
Ok, my bad. I meant LAST concert. But anyone whose been increadibly stoned can see how everything in the world mushes together and everything is connected and this song just embodies that with multiple meanings that all kind of mush together to really rock and roll. To the guy in Tiajuanna who claims someone had a heart attack from weed, I doubt it was just weed, 'cause there's lots of really hard drugs readily available down there, or maybe it was from the pesticides they spray on mexican weed. It is non addictive- I smoked 1-8 joints a day for over a year straight of high grade and just quit w/out a problem 'cause the man put me on probation for possesion. I've quit before, too- no problem, mon. Definately not addictive.
- DAVID, TALLAHASSEE, FL
Saw Tom on 7-16-08 in Tampa. He's pretty much the king of rock. I believe this is the dream he's been running down since he was a kid and his uncle introduced him to Elvis. So, someone here mentioned the fact that Elvis's lst concert was in Indiana. I'm sure Tom was aware of this, and I'm sure he was stoned when he couldn't pick up the intended verse about "Indiana girl". So hes stoned, trippin on his rock fantasy of following Elvis, and maybe he wanted to Dance with the chick Elvis danced with. And Yes it is definately also about the weed that "grew up tall and grew up strong" Deep song with lots of room for stoner interpretation. This guy is the king.
- DAVID, TALLAHASSEE, FL
I think she jumps....
- naomi, Woodmere, NY
It's got such a cool harp solo... tough to play unless you find a minor harp to play it on!
- Bryan, Flint, MI
honestly have you listened to the lyrics it has nothing to do with drugs...the hole song is about love
- arthur, pittsburgh, PA
What an swesome song and video! I have been a TP fan since his second album, and he was great during halftime of the Super Bowl. Kim Basinger was a much better pick for this video than Sharon Stone.
- Geoff, Spokane, WA
The song means whatever the interpreter thinks it does. I don't believe this song has sole meaning related to weed, though, and I think it's shallow to think so, but that's your opinion. It seems like everything that is left up to interpretation can be related to drugs somehow. I think it's a song about love gone awry. That itself is a 'typical' response too, but I'm OK with that.
- J.T., Lima, OH
I'm originally from Indiana. For whatever reason, "Mary Jane" is a common name in that state. That was my aunt's name, and of at least one girl in my grade school. Kim's right. Read whatever you want into the name, but he could have been habituated to the girl (as well as the weed).
Market Square refers both to the old basketball arena, and to the City Market west of the arena. No hotel actually overlooks Market Square, that's poetic license.
- Pat, Albuquerque, NM
I like the beginning of this song! I didn't really get the video.
- Stacey, Tuscon, AZ
Last dance with Mary Jane? Several thousand people had their last dance with Mary Jane one Hoosier night. Who did Mary Jane dance with? Elvis Presly. His last concert before he died was at Market Square in Indy. Just this Indiana boys interpretation.
- Mark, Marion, IN
"she grew up tall and she grew up right with them indiana boys on them indiana nights..."
i have taken this two ways 1) it is marijuana that is growing up tall and right or 2) it is a girl taking the wrong path since her mother isnt around. it can fall seemlessly into either catagory and maybe that is what the song was about, how being in love is like a drug addiction
- Ryan, Cleveland, OH
i agree with tyler in buffalo
- dani, hamburg, NY
This song relates to necrophilia as well as marijuana, according to a friend. However, he never elaborated, so I do not know whether or not Dave was telling the truth and/or whether he actually enjoyed the station that I had on the radio (105.5 Bob-FM, KEUG Eugene)
- Darrell, Eugene, United States
If you actually listen to the song, you get the lonely feeling portryaed throughout. I think it is about a hot summer and the possibility of a fling ending badly. the girl wanted to see other places and was not ready t be tied down.
- Maggie, san francisco, CA
I beleive that
"She grew up in an Indiana town,
Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around.
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights."

refers to a marijuana plant growing up and they are female which would account for the she part. the mama never was around would refer to a seed from some dank MJ that was planted and grew up with no mom because the mother of a marijuana plant is never around. She grew up tall being a Sativa plant and grw up right.
the indiana boys is because some young men planted this seed in a sort of "rogue" type thing which account for the use of night which petically refers to secretiveness.

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

refers to the plant bieng harvest and the term 18 is for the amount of weeks until harvest. She blew the boys away a term for smoking and it was more than theyd seen obvioulsy a plant with strong THC amounts. It was then that tom petty met mary jane or tried pot and started groooving(or dancing) He obvioulsy dug it or liked it but he had to move on with his life.

"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."

the famous chorus is jsut part of the fact that he is running out of weed and only gets one more to kill the pain which could be numerous things.

summer creepin in would refer to the nearly end of the pot season and when the reserves get very dry basically the pot is running out in town. And since he has no more to smoke the town is getting boring again and he is waiting for harvest.

"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 going down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town."

this could be talking about the fact that THC and cannaboids are known to slow the blodflow to the memroy and make you have a worse memory so he doesnt remmember or any numerous theories i have many for this line email me at
- Mason, Pendleton, OR
Does anyone else think that this song sounds similar to Bob Dylan? The voice sounds like him and harmonica adds to the similarity.
- Tom, East Lyme, CT
i, personally, like to believe that tom hasn't explained about the meaning behond the story so that people could interpret it the way they want/need to. leave it open so anyone who needs, will have something to save them so they wont reach the level of pain that he has in this song. putting it in a certain category and giving it a definiftion, would only...make it lose it's personal meaning.
- Kim, Houston, TX
why all the stuff about prostitution and drugs? Try to just listen and it is very clear: This is a HAPPY song. If you still don't get it , here it is: the song starts with a verse about a good looking girl. Petty is now alone, he is obviously still in love with her but her is separated (perhaps divorced). He also likes good weed (for the uneducated a dance with Mary Jane is a smoke) one more to kill the pain , which all humans feel from time to time (smoke does this). It is obviously good weed because he crashes out in the hotel or perhaps the market place, and wakes up cold, then immediately lights up another one as he walks out toward the road, at the end of the song. HAPPY
- ross, London, England
Tom is an amazing musician and artist and I will love him and his music as long as I'm on this earth. This song and all of Petty's songs for that matter, is what keeps me going in life. One of my life goals is to find this beautiful man and voice my love and appreciation for his music. Mustic is an art and art is built on opinions.. thats why Tom wrote this song the way he did. You make it what you want..
- Kelsey, Lancaster, PA
There's no real way to be right or wrong on this subject. Like Campbell said above its whatever you think its about. Maybe one of the reasons Petty put Mary Jane in the title is so that it could represent a girl and a drug.
- Justin, Albany, NY
I deffinatly agree with the line being a drug reference. But it doesn't mean it is just about drugs. I also think it is a metaphor. Sometimes words have two meanings. Why do some people on here think when there is a reference to drugs the whole song is about drugs.

Also marijuana is not physically addictave and your body doesn't crave it like nicotine. It can be psychologicaly addicting and you think that you need it but you actually don't.
- Mike, Winnipeg, Canada
My aunt say Tom Petty in concert and apparently all he talked about was weed so...
- Ashley Jade, Cleveland, GA
I personally think its about drugs. It even says it is in wikipedia encyclopidia. I think it's like its a girl who was not raised up gret like her mother was never there as it says and to get away from the pain of no love and stuff she got into pot. This is like society today if kids are not raised up good then they could have behavior problems and get themselves into drugs.
- Tyler, Buffalo, NY
Anyone who is going to claim that this song is about Marijuana is just being ignorant and just wants to think it's about pot. If you listen to the song, besides the one line "Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain," I don't think there is anything that could even be viewed as a drug reference. It looks to me like the song is just about saying goodbye to someone you love.
- Greg, Jericho, NY
don't like the idea but i definately think that this is about a hooker "one more time to kill the pain" recon thet means he hates his life and where he is mary jane is the only thing that makes him forget his troubles and he won't get to see her anymore. question did tom ever do drugs???
- stacey, someplace, Australia
I've never seen the video but I don't imagine even in a twisted Tom Petty video there would be nercophelia. That's too wierd. Maybe dancing witht the dead but I hope no necrophelia.
- Renee, Saint John, Canada
By the way i know someone who had a heart attack from dope so dont be saying its harmless man. I am from Tijjuana the pot capitol of the world and i am sayin that this stuff can kill you.
- Eduardo, Tijjuana , Mexico
This song is about a girl who led an empty childhood and became a hooker. Than she started taking Marijuana. Than one night when she was doing her buisness she woke up in the middle of the night and killed herself but thats just me
- Eduardo, Tijjuana , Mexico
I think its a mix between saying goodbye to a girl and about pot, just because of the chorus
"Last dance with Mary Jane,
One more time to kill the pain"
Thats actually a great lyrical metaphor
- Sam, Earth unfortunately
You have to love petty's "story songs"...he may be the best "story song" writer since Johnny Cash
- Scott, chicago, IL
Marijuana is a non addictive drug. Simply google this and you'll find out that this is a pretty well-known fact.

So I am sure he is not talking about an "addiction" at all, but I still believe he is using smoking pot as a metaphor here.
- thomseye, Detroit, MI
I think it can be about what you want it to be. All of those interpretations seem to work with the lyrics of the song.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I think the song is about how he was in love with a girl and she was tired of being settled. The girl in the song wanted to go out and see the world. That's where I get confused with the line "i feel summer creepin in and im tired of this town again." It's either from her perpective of wanting to see the world and go places or his perspective of shes ogne and now hes sad and tired of this town hes in because it holds too many memories of them. so now he wants to go to somewhere else and something like that. i think thats a good analysis though.
- Nathan, Memphis, TN
I saw TP&HB at Market Square Arena in the spring of 1994 not long after "Mary Jane's Last Dance" was released as a single. Being in Indianapolis, the song got a huge ovation for the local commentary therein, and after the band finished the song, TP said "I've been waiting YEARS to play that here." It was rather cool.
- Dennis, Fresno, CA
i just watched the music video, and i definitly think it is about his wife and the divorce a year earlier. "one more time to kill the pain" i think could possibly be referring to marijuana, but i don't think it is directly referring to it, just to something that helps him through the pain of remembering his wife. btw tom petty rocks like none other...
- jon, columbus, OH
I think the song is about him getting over his wife and the only thing that can help him feel a little better is marijuana. As time goes by the effect of the weed cant overtake the pain of losing his wife, so this is the last time to try to ease the pain and he knows the marijuana wont take the pain away so he's going to kill himself
- dave, myrtle beach, SC
The Market Square reference in the song is indeed an Indianapolis landmark. Most likely chosen because this is the site of Market Square Arena, which is where TP would play concerts, and may have been the only slice of Indy the band ever saw. Market Square Arena (Pacers home) was torn down a few years ago, now replaced by Conseco Fieldhouse.
- Matt, Charleston, SC
Actually, having just listened to the song again, I think Mary Jane is a prostitute. She had to fend for herself since she was a girl, and promiscuity with the local boys in her small Indiana town led her straight into prostitution in order to earn a living.

Tom's protagonist is a local man who hasn't made much of his life, and longs to get away and start over. The only thing that makes him happy, or "kills his pain," is being in the embrace of Mary Jane. (Tom even mentions one of their encounters in the last verse.)

I think Petty is clever enough to have added more than a couple of layers to this song. Songs with great lyrics like these are always fun to analyze!
- Sean, Media, PA
Here's something to chew on. I think maybe Tom borrowed a few ideas from this song from Steve Miller, or perhaps the song is even a subtle tribute to Steve Miller. I noticed some interesting similarities between between Steve Miller's "Dance Dance Dance" (which is a much older song) and Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance"....

1. They both have a 'Dance' theme. (O.K., that's pretty weak)
2. Steve Miller's song contains the verse "Come on Darlin' put a pretty dress on, we're gonna' go out tonight", which is similar to Tom Petty saying "Oh my my, Oh hell yes, Honey put on that party dress."
3. Also, Steve Miller's song contains the verse "I don't know, but I've been told, If you keep on dancing, you'll never grow old" and Tom Petty's song contains and almost identical verse "Well I don't know, but I been told, you never slow down, you never grow old".

Any one of those 3 similarities by itself would be nothing to turn heads at all, but together I think they make a convincing argument that Tom Petty is a Steve Miller fan.

Ted Whitten
Tucson, AZ
- Ted, Tucson, AZ
This song is my favorite song because No one knows exactly what it means. I like the mystery.
- Jennifer Prather, Newcomb, TN
I think he smokes weed to get over this girl he loves that will only be with him for one night and then she has to move on.
- Jennifer Prather, Newcomb, TN
I'm not sure what this song really means, but i could see it as a guy who is trying to get over a drug, or maybe about a guy singing about a girl who he used to know..whats great about this song is that there are gaps in the plot so you can fill in the blanks, i'm doing a paper on the song and its made me really think about its meaning.
- Katie, Medford, NJ
Whether it is about drugs or love, there is also the use of necrophilia as a metaphor (especially with the video). I think it's great to use something extremely twisted as a metaphor for something much less horrible.
- Jessica, Holt, MI
There is a Market Square in Indianapolis, IN, which is referenced in this song about an Indiana girl
- Nick, Arlington Heights, IL
Marijuana is not an addictive drug. However it is a gateway drug. The lipids in the liver becomes more tolerant to the THC content in marijuana and it will take more marijuana to get u high. Most ppl just do other drugs to reach the high they once got from marijuana. I know ive smoked alot of marijuana and have been tempted to try other drugs.
Marijuana is an addictive drug.
- Kurt, Downers Grove, IL
Marijuana is a non addictive drug. People enjoy smoking weed because it is a painstress releiver, and is perfectly harmless beside obvious minor smoke damage. "feels like somethings creeping in, I'm tired of this town again" could be refering to stress and frustration with everything going on, not to an addiction. Some people choose to stop smoking reef for personal reasons, but not an addiction.
The way I interpret this song is about a man who has cancer, and he smokes marijuana to ease the pain. He begins to fall in love with a woman, but knows he's going to die soon. Just how I think of it.
- Lucas Burns, Folsom, CA
It definetly sounds like it is refering to drugs. "Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain..." he's saying that he needs to use marijuana one more time to kill the pain. then when it goes on to say "feels like somethings creeping in, I'm tired of this town again..." I think he is saying his addiction is trying to get the better of him.
- Abby, Huntsville, TX
i remember wathcing this video when i was little and i always wondered who it was because all i could remember was the video. and then one day we were listening to the song and my friend started to describe the video and i was freaking out because i thought i would never figure out who it was.
this song is great, it reminds me of my good friends and going places in the summer.
i think its just about some girl that he used to know in the past. not exactly a love or anything. and how could it be about pot if they mention her mother and the town they were in. it just sounds like a memories song to me.
- Heather, Mead, NE
Nah, it's about getting over pot. Last dance=last intimate encounter. The guy's been using weed to kill the pain but has now gotten over it, possibly by falling in love or something.
- Brett, Edmonton, Canada
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