About The Song

Take a Message to Mary: A Look at the Everly Brothers’ Classic

“Take a Message to Mary” is a song by the iconic rock and roll duo, the Everly Brothers. Released in 1959, it became a significant hit, solidifying their place in the burgeoning rock and roll scene. This song explores a range of interesting aspects, from its background and musical style to its lyrical themes and lasting cultural impact.

Background

The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, were already established stars by the time “Take a Message to Mary” hit the airwaves. Hailing from Kentucky, they rose to fame in the mid-1950s with rock and roll-tinged country hits like “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” However, the music industry was undergoing a significant shift towards a more polished pop sound. The Everly Brothers, under pressure from their record label, Cadence, found themselves navigating this evolving landscape.

“Take a Message to Mary” emerged from this period of transition. Songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, known for crafting country hits for artists like Patsy Cline, penned the song. The Bryants presented it to the Everly Brothers, who were initially hesitant. Don Everly, in particular, felt the song was too country-oriented. However, Cadence Records pushed for its release, recognizing its potential to appeal to a broad audience.

Musical Style

“Take a Message to Mary” sits at the crossroads of rock and roll and country music. The driving rhythm section, featuring a prominent backbeat on the drums, and the use of electric guitars provide a rock and roll foundation. However, the song incorporates distinct country elements as well. The prominent use of a steel guitar in the instrumental breaks and the overall melody have a strong Nashville influence.

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The Everly Brothers’ signature harmonies are a major highlight. Their close vocal blend, featuring Don’s high tenor and Phil’s lower baritone, adds a layer of sweetness and emotional depth to the song. The arrangement is kept relatively simple, allowing the vocals and the catchy melody to take center stage.

Lyrics

The lyrics of “Take a Message to Mary” tell a story of heartbreak and longing. The narrator, a young man, has been left by his girlfriend, Mary. He pleads with the wind, the birds, and even the rain to carry a message to her, expressing his regret and desire for reconciliation.

Here’s a closer look at some key lyrical elements:

  • Theme of Regret: The narrator constantly expresses remorse for his actions, suggesting he did something wrong that led to the breakup. Lines like “Tell Mary I’m sorry for the things I made her cry” and “Tell her I was wrong, and my heart is breaking all alone” highlight his deep regret.
  • Power of Nature: The narrator uses various natural elements as messengers, personifying them with the ability to understand and deliver his emotional plea. This creates a sense of desperation and helplessness, emphasizing the lengths he’d go to win Mary back.
  • Hope for Reconciliation: Despite the sadness, there’s a glimmer of hope woven into the lyrics. Phrases like “Tell Mary I love her with a love that’s strong and true” and “Tell her I’ll wait for her, ’til the day my lonely days are through” showcase his unwavering love and hope for a reunion.
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The simplicity of the lyrics, paired with the strong imagery and emotional delivery by the Everly Brothers, makes the song relatable and enduring.

Cultural Impact

“Take a Message to Mary” was a significant commercial success. It reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and charted well internationally as well. The song solidified the Everly Brothers’ status as pop stars and helped them navigate the evolving music scene of the late 1950s.

Beyond commercial success, “Take a Message to Mary” had a lasting cultural impact. It became a staple of rock and roll radio playlists and influenced countless artists across genres. The song’s blend of rock and roll and country music helped bridge the gap between these two seemingly disparate styles.

Here are some specific aspects of the song’s cultural impact:

  • Influence on Rock and Roll: The song’s use of electric guitars and driving rhythm section helped pave the way for the more guitar-heavy rock and roll that would dominate the 1960s.
  • Enduring Popularity: “Take a Message to Mary” continues to be played and covered by artists across generations. Its timeless themes of love, loss, and regret resonate with audiences even today.
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Recognition: The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, a testament to their lasting impact on the genre.
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Video

Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

These are the words of a frontier ladWho lost his love when he turned bad
Take a message to Mary but don’t tell her where I amTake a message to Mary but don’t say I’m in a jamYou can tell her I had to see the world or tell her that my ship set sailYou can say she’d better not wait for me but don’t tell her I’m in jailOh, don’t tell her I’m in jail
Take a message to Mary but don’t tell her what I’ve donePlease don’t mention the stagecoach and the shot from a careless gunYou can tell her I had to change my plans and cancel out the wedding dayBut please don’t mention my lonely cell where I’m gonna pine awayUntil my dying day
Take a message to Mary but don’t tell her all you knowMy heart’s achin’ for Mary, Lord knows I miss her soJust tell her I went to Timbuktu, tell her I’m searchin’ for goldYou can say she’d better find someone new to cherish and to holdOh, Lord, this cell is cold
Mary, MaryOh, Lord this cell is cold

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