She grew up in a 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 an Indiana night

Well, she moved down here at the age of 18
She blew the boys away, was more than they'd seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin'
She said: "I dig you, baby
But I got to keep movin' on
Keep movin' on,"

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

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 goin' down
Tired of myself, tired of this town

Oh my my
Oh hell yes
Honey, put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come
'Cause I can't stay long

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

There's pigeons down on Market Square
She's standing in her underwear
Lookin' down from a hotel room
The nightfall will be coming soon

Oh my my
Oh hell yes
You got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry, when I woke up alone
I hit my last number
I walked to the road

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

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Mary Jane's Last Dance song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +5
    General CommentI haven't read all 100+ posts here, but my take on the song is that "Mary Jane" refers to the girl and to the smoke. Whatever Tom Petty meant by it, I've always interpreted it a bit like this -

    He's singing point of view of a guy in a small town, going nowhere. The girl, Mary Jane, is a girl who grew up in a similar small town in Indiana with a waste case of a mother who pretty much left her to her own. With no parental guidance, she became prey to the "Indiana boys", so she learned to be tough and take care of herself (she grew up tall and she grew up right).

    When she was 18, she left her podunk town and hit the road, looking for something better. She pulled into our Hero's town - another small town, not unlike the one she left behind. She knew she wouldn't be staying long, but our Hero was smitten with her, and she kind of liked him too, and they started hanging out together (groovin') - and she stayed longer than she expected.

    The verse "i don't know, but I been told" is Mary Jane talking - she's realizing that no matter where she goes, she can't escape her past - she doesn't want to be tied down to one place because it all comes creeping back - but she's tired of running, too.

    The chorus "last dance with Mary jane" is a literal last dance with her, and a figurative one more bowl of weed. They're both trying to numb their pain - her shitty life, his shitty life PLUS the knowledge he's losing her.

    He passes out in their hotel room, but she's overcome with the hopelessness of her life - and goes out the window and jumps ("night fall" will be coming soon) - falls to her death in the square below.

    He wakes up alone - finds out what's happened, and is just numb, not surprised (too cold to cry when I woke up alone). Smokes a bowl for the road and heads out (hit my last number), hoping to find a better life than she did.

    It's like, she was the only good thing that ever happened to him in that town, trying to keep her there killed her. He wasn't going to let the small town kill him too.

    But that's just the way I see it. :)
    fnnkybutton June 18, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song was orginally going to be called "Indiana Girl" or something similar. I'm from Indiana, so is Petty ;)

    Great song, easily one of his best. Pretty obvious what it's about, I don't think it's any secret he's a huge pot head. I don't understand the significance of 'the last dance' part though.
    Muzzyon March 09, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwell yeah, no shit... but above and beyond that, wasn`t he married to a woman named mary jane?
    ramtharon April 19, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe music video for this song has Tom dancing with a dead Kim Bassinger. He apparently is an undertaker and steals her from the morgue, dresses her up and has a dinner party with her. They dance (or he just carries around a corpse) and then he dumps her in the ocean.
    Take what you will from that, but my theory is that Mary Jane jumps from the hotel balcony while Tom is asleep, when he wakes, she is dead.....
    sara_blue_shoeson September 05, 2002   Link
  • +1
    TranslationHere's what Mike Campbell, the guitarist of the heartbreaks, said about the song: ''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'' .
    stefaniaczon February 16, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMary Jane = Marijuana
    Ferthukoon April 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmaybe Tom decided to quit smokin' bowls.

    this is a more obvious example, but ALL of Tom Petty's songs are about drugs.
    roger wilcoon May 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsounds like he's in serious need of a wake'n'bake
    Lioness_Whisperson July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentobviously the last dance part means that it was his last time tokin' up....i dont know why...maybe because his wife/girlfriend made him....then again poetry/songs arent always from the singer/writers could be about some made up guy in his head quitting never know....great song nonetheless
    TSLlovesPHILon March 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentok im sorry, but after reading every post listed on this song it just made me mad to think that everyone thinks this song is about pot. hey dont get me wrong i love pot! ok and im sure alot of you do to, as well as tom petty. BUT unlike some of his other songs THIS particular song is NOT about pot. and if you search and read up about this song, facts from live interveiws will prove from tom petty himself that this song isnt about pot... thanks, oh and whoever said that all of tompettys songs are about drugs... look it up or something b/c not all are, but some.
    pettyfreak...on April 01, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top