"Johnny And Mary" as written by and Robert Allan Palmer....
Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain't lonely
Mary counts the walls
Knows he tires easily

Johnny thinks the world would be right
If it could buy truth from him
Mary says he changes his mind more than a woman
But she made her bed
Even when the chance was slim

Johnny says he's willing to learn
When he decides he's a fool
Johnny says he'll live anywhere
When he earns time to
Mary combs her hair
Says she should be used to it
Mary always hedges her bets
She never knows what to think
She says that he still acts
Like he is being discovered
Scared that he'll be caught
Without a second thought
Running around

Johnny feels he's wasting his breath
Trying to talk sense to her
Mary says he's lacking a real
Sense of proportion
So she combs her hair
Knows he tires easily

Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain't lonely
Mary counts the walls
Says she should be used to it

Johnny's always running around
Running around

Lyrics submitted by boomslang20117

"Johnny and Mary" as written by Robert Allan Palmer

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Johnny And Mary song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentActually, Robert Palmer himself said that he wrote it about a specific sector of political people he knew personally, political people in the Bahamas, I believe. This song was about the shallowness & neediness of the policians themselves (all male, in this case) & the wives of those said men. Wives who were tired of the political game-playing, the jockeying for attention, the endless social obligations. But those same wives were not about to leave the life of privilege given to them, essentially making them into powerless shadows behind their men. Hence, the ennui, the boredom, the self-esteem issues written into the lines. How many politicians do we see "always running around, acting like he's being discovered"? Brillant but subtle writing, this one. So it's still about marriage to an extent, but there's a deeper meaning behind this song than that.

    Not surprised it wasn't a hit in America, as they weren't & still in general aren't able to appreciate a darker song like this on the whole. And yes, I'm an American, and no, I don't hate my country. From what I've read, this song is still the most-respected in RP's catalogue in Britain to this day.
    elawtonon November 25, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI understand this song was written about political behaviour. Nonetheless, as it happens with many songs with open metaphores and general meanings, it can be easily translated into any meaning. And since we're most of all sexual beings, of course that love is one of the most popular subjects for this song to be read into. besides, political ground is a fight ground, just as love is. I think that's why River Wolf and Dogmanstar interpreted it as a song about a relationship falling apart.

    In that context, I take this song as a description of a very insecure man who thinks the woman he loves will leave him, that everybody cheats, that love will always end early, that love is always a fight, that love (as Joy Division said) will tear them apart, that he can trust nothing. He just have found a woman who is not willing to get into those games. She's not dumb nor simple. She's wise and she knows relationships are hard-working enterprises, but she has no intention to get into those mindgames, she knows nothing about those painstaking questions to oneself and doesn't care about them. But she likes him all the same, that's why she awaits for him in bed ("so she made her bed"). From then on, she will just sit and wait. He loves him, but she's convinced that all that internal fight has to be won from the inside.

    He thinks he's doing things right, that talking is the way to sort things out with her. He doesn't realize that he has to sort things out with himself. That's why he believes he's wasting his time trying to talk sense to her.

    So she combs her hair. She THINKS he tires easily. But he will never stop running around. Certainty is not something you find on the world. You find it inside yourself. It's only that Johnny doesn't know it.
    Alienoon July 16, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is great, Placebo's cover is as well. i think it's about a relationship falling apart
    River Wolfon February 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, I think it's about a relationship falling apart as well. But both Johnny and Mary are too numb to do much about the whole thing. They're 'happy', if you will, with the status quo.
    dogmanstaron August 08, 2009   Link

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