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 dressed in red
And the wind whispers Mary
A broom is drearily sweeping
up the broken pieces of yesterdays life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife
And the wind, it cries Mary
The traffic lights, they turn, uh, blue tomorrow
and shine their emptiness down on my bed
The tiny island sags down stream
'cause the life that lived is,
is dead
And the wind screams Mary
Uh-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
And the wind cries Mary

Lyrics submitted by , edited by cgbigfoot, carl115821

The Wind Cries Mary song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI believe the lyrics of this song are multilayered and can also be interpreted in a multitude of ways, but I will try to break them down how they seem to work imho:

    "After all the jacks are in their boxes
    and the clowns have all gone to bed"
    >The jacks (pieces of the children's game, jacks) are put away because the players grew tired of playing. The game of jacks is the game people play in life to be the "best" or the "winner" (such as war), regardless of who loses in their wake. The players are the clowns, though, because they, themselves, eventually lose and just go to bed (or even die).

    "You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
    footprints dressed in red"
    >So when the game ends, the people whose voices are heard are those left in the wake who were not playing the game. And they continue happily on the path of righteousness, although staggering. Their blood can be seen in their footprints while they still walk the path. They are visibly harmed, but do not divert.

    "And the wind whispers Mary"
    >"Mary" is Mary of Bethany from the Bible. (Mary walked the path of peace and faith, in contrast to her sister Martha, who lived in selfishness and doubt.) Hence, the wind now quietly speaks her name, the wind being the age or the times.

    "A broom is drearily sweeping
    up the broken pieces of yesterday's life"
    >Those who are left after the fighting try to pick up the pieces of their destroyed way of life.

    "Somewhere a queen is weeping
    Somewhere a king has no wife"
    >The queen is sad because the man she married is not the great man she believed he was. He was only a malevolent leader orchestrating senseless fighting for his own gain. She leaves him after the fighting because he has nothing left to offer her.

    "And the wind, it cries Mary"
    >The people who played and lost the game, like the king and queen, have lost almost everything. So the wind is louder now, crying for change.

    "The traffic lights, they turn up blue tomorrow
    and shine their emptiness down on my bed"
    >The traffic lights are the old leaders, like the king and queen, who used to tell you when to go and when to stop. People followed their directions because it got them to where they were headed. But now, the traffic lights are turned blue (sad because they lost their power). Those who followed the traffic lights are now also blue because they have no direction for the future. Even the narrator is awoken by the empty blue.

    "The tiny island sags downstream
    'cause the life that lived is, is dead"
    >The great kingdom that was is now only a "tiny island." It is isolated and all the pieces that are left fall apart without its surrounding structure. The old society that once thrived is now totally dead.

    "And the wind screams Mary"
    >The wind is so loud now, that it cannot be ignored.

    "Will the wind ever remember
    the names it has blown in the past?"
    >The narrator questions whether the wind will consider the names it has blown before, such as kings' names, or perhaps Martha's name.

    "And with this crutch, its old age, and its wisdom
    it whispers no, this will be the last"
    >The wise, old, wind now has Mary as its crutch to keep on flowing while the people get together to repair and build a better place to live in. The wind whispers to the narrator (so the people don't hear and become complacent) that this is the last name that needs to be blown. The people finally recognize the error of their ways.

    "And the wind cries Mary"
    >The wind calms a bit but still cries Mary for the stragglers. Perhaps later the wind will quiet down and no longer need to blow Mary's name, when the people realize their happiness and harmony depend on their own actions.
    tideallon April 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJimi had a fight with his girlfriend and while she was he wrote the song using her middle name mary and he then recorded it in a recording sesson that night
    anoyans54on August 15, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"The tiny island sags downstream" is probably that deflated sadness of loss and also that erogenous zone. He is not feeling very potent, at this time. A very sensitive metaphor.
    Happyness staggers- drunk? Footsteps dressed in Red- No happyness is not drunk its stabbed and bleeding and thats why it staggers. This is particular because Red shoes are typically womens and happyness has been killed from loss of a woman. This guy is a total poet genius. The solo is great a sad lullaby but unmistakably hendrix.
    Whatsthewordon April 02, 2003   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI believe this song could be about a little girl down/across the street who got hit by a car. Someone mentioned that to me and it seemed reasonable. Open your mind to the idea.

    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.

    And the wind whispers Mary.

    A broom is drearily sweeping
    up the broken pieces of yesterday's life.
    Somewhere a Queen is weeping,
    somewhere a King has no wife.

    And the wind it cries Mary.

    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.

    And the wind screams Mary.

    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."

    And The Wind Cries Mary.

    Either way you look at it, it's a beautiful song and Jimi Hendrix is amazing.<3
    xbob2axon February 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationPart 1: Boy meets girl, party late at night, she has "footprints dressed in red" cute red shoes...

    Part 2: Their relation ship ends in sadness. She weeps, he is now alone.

    Part 3: "The traffic lights they turn blue tomorrow" is a positive pregnancy test. "The tiny island sags downstream
    'Cos the life that they lived is dead."
    She has an abortion.

    Part 4 is about his own regrets...
    TotoLeTrollon March 04, 2015   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationInterpretation of “The Wind Cries Mary” (1967) by Jimi Hendrix.

    The received opinion is that the lyrics were inspired by an domestic row with his then partner Kathy Etchingham, whose middle name was Mary. While probably true, I have attempted a wider reading of the lyrics, which are in any event left well open to interpretation.

    The mood of the song is heavily reflective; features little band accompaniment and attempts towards poignancy. It carries a sexy, bluesy, rock style and hints in the direction of intimacy while containing little fact on Hendrix’s personal life.

    “After all the jacks are in their boxes”
    Hendrix was bullied while in compulsory military service prior to his career success. The opening line is a reflection on this part of his life which would have been well behind him by the time he wrote this piece. The Jacks denote the cavalier military characters of his past. The term Jack the lad would have been in widespread use, originating from an 1840 song of the same name.

    “and the clowns have all gone to bed”
    In his more recent memory, Hendrix is referring to entertainment businessmen who may have used charm to manipulate, and with whom he no longer had much involvement on account of his independent success.

    “You can hear happiness staggering on down the street”
    In this part of his storytelling, he is bringing himself and his audience way apart from the familiar, heady and inebriated merriment associated with youth culture of the day, to subdue the atmosphere and gain attention for the lyrics which follow.

    “footsteps dressed in red”
    The line refers to his trail of affairs and liaisons, which would have peppered his recent sexual history. In the lyric, each footstep represents an erotic incident. The separation of footsteps depicts the disconnected pattern of sexual adventure which characterised his Casanova lifestyle. Red is usually associated with the erotic and the song carries a typical sensual and fiery Hendrix resonance.

    “And the wind whispers Mary”
    The diminished influence of religion on 1960s youth culture had, in his view, reached a point where the religious voice had been sent to a whisper.

    “A broom is drearily sweeping
    up the broken pieces of yesterdays life”
    His recent career success had gained Hendrix the opportunity to rebuild his life from its fractured past. However, the slow pace of this reconstitution, caused through drug addiction and lack of domestic stability, had proved to be a matter of personal disappointment.
    More widely the world, and in particular London where he would have been living at the time, were emerging from the fall out and devastation of World War II.

    “Somewhere a queen is weeping
    Somewhere a king has no wife”
    Hendrix is expressing feelings about a lack of credibility caused by his philandering. This is coupled with emotions of guilt about the impact of his lifestyle on women. According to the accounts of his female lovers, including Derby born Kathy Etchingham with whom he was in a relationship at the time, he was prone to anger. Hendrix has been recorded as violent towards his sexual partners.

    “And the wind, it cries Mary”
    “The traffic lights, they turn blue tomorrow”
    His prediction about the rise of pornography. The song was written just two years before Andy Warhol’s “Blue Movie.” Blue had been used to refer to risqué content since the 19th century.

    “and shine their emptiness down on my bed”
    An anticipation about the effect of pornography on the fullness of his future sex life.

    “The tiny island sags down stream”
    The tiny Island refers to Britain where he was living at the time. Although not tiny, it would have been small in geographical and economic terms to his homeland in the US. The intended slight on Britain’s size was a statement about her diminishment in international importance. Although experiencing a post-war cultural and economic boom in the sixties, the lyric is a reasonably obvious foretelling of the depression of the seventies that took hold of the nation shortly after his death.

    “'cause the life that lived is,
    is dead”
    A reference to the granting of independence to colonial countries, and in particular the decolonization of Africa, that would have been frequent around and in the years leading up to the time the song was put together.

    “And the wind screams Mary
    Will the wind ever remember
    the names it has blow in the past?
    And with this crutch, its old age, and its wisdom
    it whispers no, this will be the last
    And the wind cries Mary”

    In summary, the song is personally charged, expressing notions around the fading of romantic ideals of the preceding 1950s, the decline of religion, the passing of a broken age of war and the dawning of a new age of the blue movie.
    I hope you like my interpretation of The Wind Cries Mary. It is evidently utter opinion.
    RayComanon January 20, 2013   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningMy interpretation of this song has evolved a bit over the 20 or so years that I've held it as a favorite. Heres my take:

    First verse

    I always thought the jacks were playing cards (maybe because of the mention of kings and queens later on). And the clowns are people who find happiness in a bottle and maybe sit around gambling and wasting time. Happiness has been personified and is drunkenly staggering off to find another party, leaving a trail of sex and violence, evoked by the color red. Imagine a smokey room full of drugs and booze and probably women and just being depressed because all you can think about are all of your ex girlfriends and bad breakups.

    I think the wind is your subconscious mind, always sort of making sure you're thinking about what's important, even if its a painful memory, cause you know you have to deal with fears and doubts to really be happy. So his mind just whispers this girls name, could be any name, but Mary sounds nice and peaceful. She is a specific girl, maybe the one he still loves or the one who hurt him the most.

    Second verse

    Basically the depressing stage where you might have to literally clean up your house after a drunken rage fest. But then the first step to getting better when you come to the comforting realization that even kings and queens, who can represent any powerful or desireable or beautiful people, can be lonely and heartbroken and that what you feel is painful but it sort of connects you with humanity. But then that ONE girl keeps popping into your brain and now the wind seems to yell because all the other thoughts are gone so this one is louder.

    Third verse

    He's become withdrawn and the world is upside down and he doesn't know what to expect. Traffic lights would never turn blue, but he's at the point where he wouldn't even be surprised because all he can think about is that ONE girl whose memmories are now screaming in his head. And so he just slumps his shoulders and closes up and plods on, the island sagging in the stream of life.

    Fourth verse

    Its about realizing that you have to let go and move on. Realizing that all of the depression and the bad relationships and the loneliness are because you still feel brokenhearted about that one girl and that makes you feel like a victim sorta so thats a crutch and you'll never improve yourself. And now the wind is weeping catharticly because despite everyrhing, Mary made you realize it was time to let go, move on and be happy.

    Jimi was the greatest!
    mcboonon January 20, 2014   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningMost songs are open to varied interpretation. Wild deviations from the writer's intent might make some sense, though they often require particularly agile and poorly-aimed leaps of imagination: for example, this song does not, did not, will not, never has, and never will have *anything* to do with religion. Jimi himself insisted that the use of the name 'Mary' had nothing to do with the Biblical character who shared that name, but then - as now - people who interpret everything in a religious context said he must have using the name 'unconsciously', insisting that because *they* see everything in Biblical terms, there is no way *Jimi* could not have seen it that way.

    But Jimi, his girlfriend (whose middle name was 'Mary'), his manager, his producer, and his drummer *all* said that the song was *inspired* by Jimi's break-up with then-girlfriend Kathleen Mary Etchingham, but *about* the pattern of failed relationships Jimi left in his wake, and the question of whether anything had been learned, or would he continue to do the same things that caused the list of breakups? The lyrics imply, somewhat heavily, that the answer is no, that there is more pain to come. He wants things to be better, but he hasn't grown up enough to prevent the same things from happening.

    The symbolism people are finding in this song - Biblical references, social commentary about the 60s, abortion, drugs, whatever - is fascinating. But believing what you believe is one thing; believing that what you believe is *true*, even in the face of conflicting evidence, is a completely different, and somewhat unsupportable, proposition.

    Beautiful, but very sad. Like many Hendrix songs.
    adriaan101on September 29, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat is this about???? little help please!
    Girli2318on May 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about longinf for someone, "After all the jacks are in their boxes and the clowns have all gone to bed." the longing for this person will not fade and mary will always linger in his ear but as the wind blow away so will the thoughts mary.
    Eggos=yumon May 23, 2002   Link

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