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Last dance with Mary Jane (1993) - Tom Petty - All about the song ...

About how the hit was written ...

Song History: "Last dance with Mary Jane" (1993) - Tom Petty

Many people are still wondering what or who Tom Petty had in mind when writing this amazing little thing. It is quite possible that the singer dedicated the romantic composition to his ex-wife Jane, with whom they broke up a year before the "birth" of the hit. However, no one excludes the possibility that marijuana can also be hidden under the tender name "Mary Jane" ...

Let's delve into the background

The single was first released in 1993, along with the Greatest Hits album. Very soon, the work topped the Billboard Rock Tracks chart, and the single itself became No. 1 on the Billboard Top 20.

The Live Anthology cover
The Live Anthology cover

Interestingly, the song was originally called "Indiana Girl" - in honor of one of the guitars of Mike Campbell, the guitarist of the Heartbreakers. It was the instrument with this female name that gave the single the first chords of the chorus. Later, Petty decided that "She grew up in an Indiana town ..." was more suitable for the main text, and the chorus was a verse beginning with "Last dance with Mary Jane" ("Last dance with Mary Jane").

Video clip

Later, a rather funny video was shot for the song with Tom Petty in the title role. In it, the singer plays the role of a mortuary orderly who takes home a pretty, but, alas, dead lady, who, by the way, is played by Kim Basinger. Bewitched by her charm, Petty is trying with all her might to awaken her beloved to life: she dresses her in a luxurious wedding dress a la the 18th century, arranges a romantic candlelight dinner and even “invites” the so-called Mary Jane to dance ... But all in vain. In general, the gentleman decides to let the lifeless lover go free swimming in the truest sense of the word. At the end of the video, he brings a woman in his pickup truck to the sea, where he betrays her body to the dark sea depths. But the main drama unfolds after Petty leaves: Basinger, completely immersed under dark waters, opens her eyes.

It is worth noting that in 1994 the video for "Last dance with Mary Jane" was awarded the MTV Video Music Award in the category "Best Actor".

The plot of the song

Tom Petty in 1976. Photo: Richard E. Aaron/ Redferns/ Getty Images
Tom Petty in 1976. Photo: Richard E. Aaron/ Redferns/ Getty Images

Well, now let's move on to the most interesting - the plot of the song, in which Petty skillfully hid the true message. In general, in "Last dance with Mary Jane" a girl who grew up in Indiana speaks in the first person.
Verbatim:

"... She grew up tall, and she grew up straight, with Indian boys on Indian nights", "The boys trudged from her more than from anyone else high."

Producer Rick Rubin recalls Tom Petty's "captivating" poetry as he reflects on their work together in the nineties. Here they are with Johnny Cash
Producer Rick Rubin recalls Tom Petty's "captivating" poetry as he reflects on their work together in the nineties. Here they are with Johnny Cash

Probably, every second listener, these lines suggest hemp, which, however, is not surprising. In particular, these conjectures are fueled by the refrain, which begins like this: "The last dance with Mary Jane to kill this pain in yourself once again ...". It's unlikely that dancing with an ordinary girl helps to drown out the inner pain, hmm? But, on the other hand, the third verse confuses, where Petty sings that she is standing on the balcony of the hotel in her underwear, looking down. This is where you can really break your head! But one thing is clear: the joint can hardly stand on the balcony, and even in underwear! This, at least, smacks of complete nonsense. In general, Petty asked everyone a riddle that no one can solve even after his death ... But it’s worth paying tribute - the song really turned out to be mysterious and melodic, and if a hit catches, this is much more important than knowing its true meaning!

Interesting Facts…

Officially released on the Greatest Hits (1993) compilation, "Last dance with Mary Jane" was the last album featuring Stan Lynch, the drummer of the Heartbreakers. Lynch left the group a year later.

Greatest Hits vinyl LP cover
Greatest Hits vinyl LP cover

In 2006, a very interesting situation happened: one of the popular North American radio stations for a long time called on Tom Petty to sue the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The reason was the theme music allegedly borrowed by the latter from "Last dance with Mary Jane", included in their hit "Dani California". However, the singer refused to sue, explaining that the listener may have a feeling of similarity between the two compositions, and this is normal. It turns out that both hits were produced by Rick Rubin, who has collaborated with both groups for a long time.

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