The Wind Cries Mary

Album: Are You Experienced? (1967)
Charted: 6
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Jimi wrote this in 1967 for Are You Experienced?; it was inspired by his girlfriend at the time, Kathy Mary Etchingham. He'd gotten into an argument with her about her cooking. She got very angry and started throwing pots and pans and finally stormed out to stay at a friend's home for a day or so. When she came back, Jimi had written "The Wind Cries Mary" for her.

    Kathy Mary recalled, "We'd had a row over food. Jimi didn't like lumpy mashed potato. There were thrown plates and I ran off. When I came back the next day, he'd written that song about me. It's incredibly flattering." (Source Q magazine February 2013)
  • Jimi wrote the song quietly in his apartment and didn't show it to anybody. After recording "Fire" (which was about his sexual relationship with Kathy), he had 20 minutes to spare in the recording studio, so he showed it to the band. They managed to record it in the 20 minute period they had. The band later recorded several more takes of the song, but they all seemed very sterile and they decided to go with the original recording.
  • This was the third single from Are You Experienced?. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for above 2
  • A lot of people assumed this was about marijuana, which is also known as "Mary Jane."
  • This song begins with a distinctive and recognizable introduction, in which three chromatically ascending 'five' chords are played in second inversion. A 'five' chord consists of two notes (first or "root," and fifth) instead of three (root, third and fifth). The missing middle note gives the chord a more 'open' or 'bare' sound. A second inversion "flips" the notes in the chord, so that the fifth, not the root, is the lowest sounding note. This makes it more difficult for the listener to immediately identify what key the song is being played in. In addition, a syncopated rhythm makes it difficult for the listener to identify the "down beats" of the song. This combination of musical elements creates a unique and disorienting experience when the song is heard for the first time.
  • Jamie Cullum covered this song, replacing the guitar part with a jazzy piano. Other artists to record the song include John Mayer, Popa Chubby and Robyn Hitchcock. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tonyz - Mandelieu
  • According to the book Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy, Hendrix wrote this as a very long song, but broke it down to fit the short-song convention and make it radio friendly. Hendrix was concerned that listeners wouldn't understand the song in its shortened form.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 35

  • Chris from TransitoryMusic - "A Bridge". Jimi Hendrix - "A Gateway". There are artists who prefer to not make music videos. Their reason goes something like this: A song's interpretation/understanding is for the listener and more often than not that reception is fluid. Lynyrd Skynyrd put it this way: "Was I Right or Wrong"?
  • Dreese85@yahoo.com from CaliforniaThis is not just my favorite Jimi Hendrix song; it’s one of my favorite songs of all time (top five or ten). I love finding the meanings behind songs and I hate giving false information. According to some of these meanings, I did just that earlier today. Although I am I only thirty and wasn’t alive at the time, I have always believed the song to be about the trauma of the Vietnam War. Even now that I have learned new meanings, I will continue to see it as I did, due to the connection of the time period the lyrics.

    I envisioned jacks and clowns to represent politicians and protesters (of sorts). From there I think/thought of paying attention to the happiness staggering (stumbling) due to bloody footprints. I also largely think about his talk of the emptiness, sadness and destroyed lives of a man or woman due to their loss of a loved one in war.

    Mostly I have always thought of the wind as a metaphor for the death and destruction of war. In turn I always believed Mary to be the wind’s sort of plea for innocence. Thus, as the song progresses the body count and years raise and the wind cries louder. Finally the song ends with the question of whether or not people will be remembered for their sacrifices.

    Regardless of his thoughts when writing the song, like almost all of Jimi’s songs I think I think they are beautiful works of art that capture the era beautifully.
  • Ryan from StockportLovely poetic imagery and accompanying music, it all conveys the ultimate image. I find it typical, most people presume the song is about a "relationship" or some unoriginal, non creative nonsense like that. Your average band yeah, but Jimi Hendrix, C'mon...

    The song is written from the perspective of a "watcher", someone who is merely watching the world and all its frantic affairs without getting heavily involved with what society deems "real", "permanent" and "serious". It does this through beautiful metaphors.

    "After all the jacks are in their boxes,
    and the clowns have all gone to bed,
    you can hear happiness staggering on down the street,
    footprints dress in red. "
    (After the frantic people, who overlook life itself, with all their trivial selfish concerns have gone to bed. After the loud brutes are worn out from their decadence, after societies eat themselves from the inside, the lone people who have always been there, happy with nature, the simple authentic beauty of life can be heard staggering down the empty streets, content, because they aren't striving for material transient possessions, they are content with life itself.

    "And the wind cries Mary"
    (this is expressing how all the signs are there, how nature is urging us to wake up to the real beauty of life, of the earth, as apposed to destroying it for selfish impermanent gains, such as money. Mary is of course a reference to Mary of Jesus, its used because its addressed to a western audience, if it were eastern it would be "buddha". The wind is crying the name of a saint, to urge people to WAKE UP! and get back to nature, love, oneness!)

    "A broom is drearily sweeping
    up the broken pieces of yesterday's life.
    Somewhere a Queen is weeping,
    somewhere a King has no wife."
    (it should be obvious now. he is poetically expressing impermanence, nothing lasts, yesterday is now a mere thought, relationships are fickle things, don't get attached)


    "The traffic lights they turn blue tomorrow
    And shine their emptiness down on my bed,
    The tiny island sags downstream
    'Cos the life that they lived is dead."

    (Traffic lights are the symbol of a civilization obsessed with order and control to the point of insanity. In saying they turn blue he is conveying a fantasy: when everything stops, civilization sags away, the life's we lived, endless laboring for corporations, for money... is dead and we are FREE!)

    "Will the wind ever remember
    The names it has blown in the past,
    And with this crutch, its old age and its wisdom
    It whispers, "No, this will be the last."
    (will the wind ever remember the names of prophets from previous dictatorial civilizations eg, Egyptian, roman... This time we've screwed the planet up, so it whispers no this will be the last, and so the wind is now crying Mary!because no one seems to be listening)
  • Mike from Pawtucket, RiThe Jimi Hendrix song The Wind Cries Mary has long been understood by a few select individuals whom I know not one as of yet. Even when I try to express its meaning in details like the following examples it falls on dead ears. So let me try it again and see if anyone has ears to hear:

    1- The wind is the spirit of God.

    2- Mary is the Virgin Mary who bore the son of god

    3- The king who has no wife is none other than God himself

    4- The wind spoke to many prophets in the past to proclaim his will.

    5. The queen is Mary the mother of Christ
    6- The wind will call no more prophets as the son is the last in a line of proclamation of God's final word;Hebrews chapter 1.
  • Lisa from New York, NyThis song does not contain a reference to the BBC Test Card F, as previously noted, as the song was recorded on May 5, 1967, and the test card was first broadcast on July 2, 1967.
  • Jim Kimmel from The Blue, Blue Skies Of Albuquerque, NmThe Song With "The Never-Ending Ending"........................................
  • Jana from Los Angeles, CaI am actually teaching "The Raven" in my class, and as I was driving home, I heard "The Wind Cries Mary" and a lightbulb went on. It is amazingly similar! I'm glad someone else thought so.
  • Craig from San Diego, CaI agree with Jeff's comment below.
    I think Jimi was emphasizing that he had
    been burned one to many times by a
    relationship gone bad...( "it whispers
    no, this will be the last" in F major ).
    Cool melody and interesting guitar riffs
    during the solo.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, MoTry listening to this song alone in your bedroom at 2 am with the window open during a thunder storm. The last chords have a habit of synching up with the thunder. It's nothing short of incredible.
  • Jeff from Baltimore, NvJust as easily as the wind passes through your fingers, so can women. I believe this is what Jimi is trying to exemplify here, as cheesy as it sounds.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InSimply gorgeous, gentle playing, rivaled only by the likes of "Little Wing" or "Angel."
    Some of the best songs are those with a wistful tone, and Jimi puts voice and guitar to that so well.
  • John from Lafayette, LaThe plot reminds me a bit of Poe's "The Raven". Its a weak link, But the first verse of both poems establish the time as late at night (...Clowns have gone off to bed... Midnight dark and dreary), The last verse in each poem has the protagonist wondering poetically if they will ever meet up with their lovers again. Both are bluntly denied by their respective antagonists (The Wind in the case of Hendrix (No this will be the last) and the Raven in the case of Poe (Quoth the Raven, "Never More".) Incidentally, both poets had a hankering for opiates.
  • Shivam from Ranchi, Indiathanks to Matt ..
    John Mayer has a pretty good cover of this song..
    you can hear it at:
    http://www.esnips.com/doc/ef895381-5550-4fa4-b3be-0477b168ff3c/John-Mayer---The-Wind-Cries-Mary(Jimi-Hendrix-cover)
  • P.a. from Paris, Francenope, for an F (the tone of the song and the third chord in the intro, the notes played are C,F and C (from low to high).
    A power chord would be F,C and F (where the 1st two are the same notes as the last two in the one played by Hendrix).
    I really like his psychedelic rock songs, but I have to say I have a thing for these ballads, little wing, castles made of sand, the wind cries Mary...
  • Sam from Seattle, Waim no music man, but is the intro to this song a power chord?
  • Musicmama from New York, NyNow we come to song #9 on my all-time list. Most people, if they play at all, can only mimic moods or even other sounds when they play guitar. Good guitarists show us the way a mood sounds; great guitarists evoke it. Jimi--especially in this song--makes what he plays into the moods themselves. And the lyrics fit seamlessly with his guitar work, and so do his vocals. To Shannon of Mobile, AK: One sign of a great artist is that he or she can create fine work out of mundane or dreary things. To Travis of Blicksburg, VA: Pat Boone doing this song? I've got to hear it to believe it. It sounds as implausible as Debby Boone covering "Love or Confusion."
  • Td from New York, NyI have always believed this song has been about the women in Jimi's life and the few ones that were special to him. As someone who has been with a fair share of women, there are a select few who leave an impact and who you may regret tosssing aside. To me, Mary represents the last special girl in his life and the Wind basically tells him that Mary was the last special girl he was ever going to get. "It whispers no this will be the last"
  • Jef Van Ruyssevelt from Antwerp, BelgiumI verry much like the cover of Cassandra Wilson.
    Just heavenly.
    sheers
    Jef
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis song reminds me of my recently deceased dog.
  • Matt from Birmingham, EnglandThe lines

    "After all the jacks are in their boxes
    And the clowns have all gone to bed"

    refer to the old BBC Test Carf "F" that used to be shown once programs had stopped broadcasting for the night. You can see it here http://usera.imagecave.com/spamm/BBC-TCF.jpg
  • Joe from Bethlahem, PaMy all time favorite Hendrix song, with Castle's Made of Sand, Hey Joe, and Remember right behind it.
  • Tracy from Normal, IlJamie Cullum does a wonderful job with Radiohead,it's one of my favorite remakes, but I have to agree that he does not do justice to "The Wind Cries Mary". I was really dissapointed when I heard it.
  • Dane from Honolulu, HiThe solo for this song, is one of Hendrix best in my opinion
  • Shannon from Mobile, Akthats sort of dissapointing that such a beautiful song was written because of sucky cooking ya know. but its still my favorite song i love it.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaOne of my fav Hendrix Songs
  • Rhedyn Williams from Bristol, EnglandCullum murders this song...in fact he murders all the songs he covers.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scgreat song... Jimi rocks!
  • Kesami from Concord, CaThis is about Fire. I got a valid explanation from Bassist Noel Redding. It was jan. 1969, and it was freezing in London. When the band got inside of Redding's mother's house, Jimi politely scooted up to her and asked if he could "stand next to her fire". Imagine what you wish, but this is the full explanation.
  • Gage from Millville, NjUm, Fire was not about sex man. That is bs. Its about hm going to bandmates moms house for Christmas or something and wanting to stand next to the fireplace. Rover was the dog that was lying down in front of the fireplace vefore he got there. Hence the "Move over Rover"
  • Tom from Fillmore, CaCullum is cool, check out his version of Cole Porter's, "I Get A Kick Out Of You" I don't know how old he is but he is on!
  • Ali from East Lansing, MiThere's a newer jazz artist that I recently heard about that covers a different variety of songs in a great jazz format, and he did a wonderful job with Wind Crys Mary... his name is Jamie Cullum and I suggest you check him out. He also covered Pharrell & Jay-Z's Frontin', and Radiohead's High and Dry.
  • Daniel from Cape Breton, CanadaThis is one of the best songs from Are You Experienced! Definetly a 'Want To Hear song'!!
  • Loran from Columbus, GaDawn from Colonial Heights... if you're who I think you are, we went to High School together... in fact, you were my very first girlfriend :) -Loran
  • Travis from Blicksburg, VaHilariously as it seems , this song was covered by pat boone on his "In a metal mood " album
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaThe arguement was over whether Kathy was using dirty pots and pans while cooking, if I recall.
see more comments

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Rock Revenge SongsMusic Quiz

John Lennon, Paul Simon and Lynyrd Skynyrd are some of the artists who have written revenge songs. Do you know who they wrote them about?

Boz ScaggsSongwriter Interviews

The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.

Alan Merrill of The ArrowsSongwriter Interviews

In her days with The Runaways, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform "I Love Rock And Roll," which Alan Merrill co-wrote - that story and much more from this glam rock pioneer.

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TVSong Writing

Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.