Help Me Mary

Album: Exile in Guyville (1993)

Songfacts®:

  • American indie rock singer-songwriter Liz Phair's debut album, Exile in Guyville, was a song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones' 1972 record, Exile on Main St. and this song corresponds to "Rip This Joint." Phair explained how to Rolling Stone: "'Rip This Joint' is totally about their lifestyle and I'm like, sitting in the apartment when these rock stars come in being like, and look at the mess you make, I feel extremely uncomfortable with you here. It was Nash [Kato] and Blackie [Onassis] and all those guys from Urge Overkill and Material Issue and stuff. I'm like, did you guys not realize how you impact me? 'Soul Survivor' is such a song about like, coming through on the other end, battered, bashed, but kind of at peace with it. And so is the last song on my record. It's sort of saying, all right, I understand my part in this, and I don't really understand it either. The first song is an accusation and the last song is yes, I've played a part in this too."
  • Phair compared the two songs further in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, saying, "'Rip This Joint' was all about sort of the attitude of these rock guys that would just kind of roll into town, create trouble, sleep with other people's girlfriends and leave a big mess behind. I was writing about my own experiences hosting these spontaneous gatherings of rock dudes and how just hidden my real self was in that male scene. There weren't that many women in the scene and, like, everybody either was like a girlfriend or a den mother."
  • As she predicted in the lyrics - "Weave my disgust into fame, and watch how fast they run to the
    flame" - skewering macho rock stars is what finally opened doors for her in the male-dominated rock scene. "It's weird, isn't it? That was prophetic: Men would be attracted to the very thing that was criticizing them," she told Details magazine in 1994. "The indie-rock guys would have to pay attention to me as a figure of respect, instead of as the band wife bringing food and blankets."

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