"Cross-eyed Mary" as written by and Ian Anderson....
Who would be a poor man, a beggarman, a thief - if he had a rich man in his hand.
And who would steal the candy from a laughing baby's mouth if he could take it from the money man.
Cross-eyed Mary goes jumping in again.
She signs no contract but she always plays the game.
She dines in Hampstead village on expense accounted gruel, and the jack-knife barber drops her off at school.

Laughing in the playground gets no kicks from little boys: would rather make it with a letching grey.
Or maybe her attention is drawn by Aqualung who watches through the railings as they play.
Cross-eyed Mary finds it hard to get along.
She's a poor man's rich girl and she'll do it for a song.
She's the rich man stealer but her favour's good and strong: she's the Robin Hood of Highgate- helps the poor man get along.

Lyrics submitted by Motor27

"Cross-Eyed Mary" as written by Ian Anderson


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Cross-eyed Mary song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentWe don't find out that she's underage until halfway through the song.
    "and the jack knife barber drops her off at school"
    Jackknife barbers were common during the American era of Anti-abortion (when abortion was illegal). People would go to abortion barbers to do it illegally. Hense the name. She's already past adolecense because she had to have an abortion. But she's still young enough to go to school and play on a playground. I'll leave it up to you guys who aren't from America to decide what age that is. I doubt a 20-22 year old would "laugh on a playground" tho.

    I love the intro flute part. It makes me visualize a forest setting or some sort of peaceful atmosphere, and then it suddenly drops you into the cynicism.
    IsmAvataron October 23, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"'Cross-Eyed Mary' is a song about another form of low life, but more humorous. It's about a schoolgirl prostitute but not in such coarse terms. She goes with dirty old men because she's doing them a favour, giving people what they want because it makes them happy. It's a fun kind of song."
    * Ian Anderson in Disc and Music Echo, 20th March 1971.
    Digicatson February 06, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree to the meaning, GAnthony. Agreed that that song writers eat by writing/singing songs. If you think this song is shocking, perhaps it was written for you, to kick you into doing something about a situation that still exists in your home town. Take that silver spoon out of your... mouth and help the Cross-eyed Marry in your neighborhood. To paraphrase an old book, feelings without action are dead. Geez, art isn't just to look at/listen to. It also spurs into action (not a reference to Hunting Girl). By the way, I wasn't shocked into buying the vinyl; I bought the 8-track. ;-)
    markkl001on June 04, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually I think by "get along" Anderson is talking more about sex rather than monetary donations.
    Slovakon May 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think Mary is a reference to Virgin Mary, and thus an allegory for the Church. I think he is comparing the organized Church to a 'child prostitute'. The church dines on expensive gruel (fancy priests with gold and expensive wine), takes from the rich (guilts people into giving money, etc), gives hope to the poor. I think the whole song alludes to this theme.
    DMCDon January 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree, this song is definitly more than just the story of a little child. It is about how the modern religions end up being "prostitutes" taking mopney and favors from the rich people. the last paragraph is very revealing. "She's is the poor man rich girl" means she is well loved by the poor and she will help them for a song. Remeber singing is an important part of many religiuos ceremonies. Whe the song says "she's the rich men stealer" it means she takes money from the higher classes for favours.
    Tiraelionon February 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwow thanks RayMan, I never looked at it like that before. I think you really have something there.

    I don't think she's much to do with Aqualung, apart from maybe identifying with him a little bit, as he's another casualty of society broken and unable to function in the manner expected.
    SilentBenon February 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is talking about a little girl who is the play thing of an old lecherous pedophile. Would you like some candy little girl?
    Motor27on January 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMotor27, is the old man Aqualung. Because he is mentioned in the song. This was what I thought, but some of the things about the expense account wouldn't make sense then.
    glovejaon May 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGAnthony has it about right; Mary is a 'child prostitute' (to quote Anderson), who is sensible with 'her favours' - a rich man would pay a lot, but a poor man less.

    No paedophile, though - I see Mary as technically underage, but not actually a child.
    Ministryon June 19, 2002   Link

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