Gary Clark’s "Mary's Prayer": A Yogic Interpretation

Updated on June 27, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Gary Clark

Source

Introduction and Text of "Mary's Prayer"

The song, "Mary's Prayer," is from the album, Meet Danny Wilson, by the 1980s Scottish rock band, Danny Wilson. Lead singer of the group and the writer of the song is Gary Clark. About the song, Gary Clark, the songwriter, has explained,

There is a lot of religious imagery in the song but that is really just a device to relate past present and future. It is basically just a simple love song. In fact I like to think of it as being like a country and western song.

Please note: I am offering my interpretation solely as my own vision for my readers' consideration, not as a counter to what the songwriter claims about his song.

A Yogic Interpretation

This yogic interpretation of Gary Clark's "Mary's Prayer" reveals the spiritual nature of the song. The allusion to the Christian icon "Mary" alerts the reader to the significance of the song as it transcends the stature of a love song to a human lover, although it can certainly be interpreted to include that possibility. The chorus of the tune offers a lengthening chant, which uplifts the mind directing it toward the Divine Goal of spiritual union.

The narrator/singer of the song, "Mary's Prayer," is revealing his desire to return to his path to Soul-Awareness, which he has lost by a mistaken act that turned his attention to the worldly thoughts and activities that replaced his earlier attention to his spiritual realm.

The noun phrase, "Mary's Prayer." functions as a metaphor for Soul-Awareness, (God-Union, Self-Realization, Salvation are other terms for this consciousness). That metaphor is extended by the allusions, "heavenly," "save me," "blessed," "Hail Marys," and "light in my eyes." All of these allusions possess religious connotations often associated with Christianity.

The great spiritual leader, Paramahansa Yogananda, has elucidated the comparisons between original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna.

Mary's Prayer

Verse 1

Everything is wonderful
Being here is heavenly
Every single day she says
Everything is free

Verse 2

I used to be so careless
As if I couldn't care less
Did I have to make mistakes
When I was Mary's prayer?

Verse 3

Suddenly the heavens roared
Suddenly the rain came down
Suddenly was washed away
The Mary that I knew

Verse 4

So when you find somebody to keep
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake
When I was Mary's Prayer

Chorus

So if I say save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Verse 5

Blessed is the one who shares
Your power and your beauty, Mary
Blessed is the millionaire
Who shares your wedding day

Verse 6

So when you find somebody to keep
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake
When I was Mary's Prayer

Chorus

So if I say save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Verse 7

If you want the fruit to fall
You have to give the tree a shake
But if you shake the tree too hard,
The bough is gonna break

Verse 8

And if I can't reach the top of the tree
Mary you can blow me up there
What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

Chorus

So if I say save me, me save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes

What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

What I wouldn't—save me—give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

Commentary

A yogic interpretation of Gary Clark's "Mary's Prayer" reveals the song's spiritual nature. The allusion to the Christian icon "Mary" alerts the reader to the spiritual significance of the song causing it to transcend the stature of a love song to a human lover.

First Verse: Declaring a Spiritual Truth

Everything is wonderful
Being here is heavenly
Every single day, she says
Everything is free

The narrator/singer begins by declaring a spiritual truth, "Everything is wonderful," and that being alive to experience this wonderfulness is "heavenly." The following lines report that each day provides a blank slate of freedom upon which each child of the Beloved Creator may write his/her own life experiences. "She" refers to Mary, who has authority to make such judgments, as the narrator states. The historical and biblical Mary, as the mother of one of the Blessed Creator's most important avatars, holds special power to know the will of the Divine Creator and dispense wisdom to all children of that Creator.

Therefore, the prayer of Mary is dedicated to each children of the Heavenly Creator, and her only prayer can be for the highest good of the soul, and the highest good is that each offspring of the Beloved Lord ultimately know him/herself as such. Thus, Mary sends the faithful "every single day" and "everything is free." Every creature, every human being, every creation of the Divine Creator’s is given for the nurturance, guidance, and progress of each soul made in the Creator's image.

Second Verse: The Care and Feeding of the Soul

I used to be so careless
As if I couldn't care less
Did I have to make mistakes?
When I was Mary's prayer

In the second verse, the narrator, having established his knowledge of the stature and desire of Mary, contrasts his own status. He was not been dedicated to his own salvation; he hardly paid any attention to the care and feeding of his soul. It’s as if he could not have "cared less" about the most important aspect of his being. But that is the past and the narrator now realizes that he made mistakes that have led him in the wrong direction, and he now wonders if he really had to make such a mess of his life.

After all, he was "Mary's prayer" — the blessed mother had offered him the blessing of soul-union, but through his mistakes he had spurned that offering.

Third Verse: Losing Sight of the Blessed Mother

Suddenly the heavens roared
Suddenly the rain came down
Suddenly was washed away
The Mary that I knew
So when you find somebody who gives
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake
When I was Mary's Prayer

The narrator then reveals that through some great and fearful event that caused the heavens to move and rain to pour down, his life had become devoid of the love and caring that had been bestowed on him by Mary. He no longer knew how to pray or how feel the grace and guidance of the Blessed Mother.

Fourth Verse: Missing a Great Opportunity

So when you find somebody to keep
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake
When I was Mary's Prayer

The narrator then offers his testimony that having a soul guide who gives as the blessed Mary gives must be kept and celebrated and not merely cast off as the narrator had done. He confesses again that he "made such a big mistake" at a time that he could have just grasped the heavenly protection, while he was "Mary's prayer."

Chorus: Introduction of the Chant in Four Lines

So if I say save me save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Turning to prayer can be difficult for the one who has deliberately left it behind and perhaps forgotten its efficacy. But the narrator is once again taking up his prayers, calling out to the blessed One, even though he frames his supplication in "if" clauses: he cries, "So if I say save me, save me / Be the light in my eyes." He demands from the Divine Mother that she return to him as the light of his eyes which had left him.

Furthermore, and again framing his supplication in an "if" clause, he cries, "And if I say ten Hail Marys," but yet again demands that she "Leave a light on in heaven for me." The "if" clause followed by a demand seems contradictory, but the narrator is in distress and is confounded by his failures and his former indifference.

The chorus of this song functions as chant as it grows from four line to its final iteration of sixteen lines that complete the song.

Fifth Verse: Rich in Spirit

Blessed is the one who shares
The power and your beauty, Mary
Blessed is the millionaire
Who shares your wedding day

Still in supplication to the Divine Blessed Mother, the narrator now simply voices what he knows to be the influence of the Divine One: anyone who accepts and transforms his/her life according to "the power and the beauty" of Mary will find him/herself "a millionaire." Not necessarily financially rich—but much more important, rich in spirit. The great wedding of the little soul to the Oversoul will be the richest blessing of all.

Sixth Verse: Emphasizing the Need to Celebrate and Remember

So when you find somebody to give
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake
When I was Mary's Prayer

The sixth verse is a repetition of the fourth. It functions to reiterate the importance of the narrator’s awareness of the need to celebrate those giving beings as well as the vital necessity that he realizes what a "big mistake" he made "when [he] was Mary’s Prayer."

Chorus: Continuing the Chant with Repetition

So if I say save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

The chorus again becoming an enlarging presence serves to direct the mind Heaven-ward, while reminding the singer of his purpose for singing, for addressing his Divine Beloved, and keeping the mind steady.

Seventh Verse: Gathering the Effect of Yoga

If you want the fruit to fall
You have to give the tree a shake
But if you shake the tree too hard,
The bough is gonna break

The penultimate verse offers a metaphor of gathering fruit from a tree which likens such gathering to the yoga practice that leads to Self-Realization.

Shaking the tree gently will result in fruit falling, but shaking "the tree too hard" will break the bough. Yoga techniques must be practiced gently; straining in yoga practice is like shaking the tree too hard, which will result in failure to attain the yogic goals.

Eighth Verse: Upward Movement Through Faith

And if I can't reach the top of the tree
Mary you can blow me up there
What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

The final verse also employs a tree metaphor. The narrator, who is once again firmly on his spiritual path, expresses an extremely important truth that each devotee must cultivate: faith that the target of his/her goal can lift the devotee at any time.

The narrator colorfully expresses this truth by stating, "And if I can't reach the top of the tree / Mary you can blow me up there." And finally, he expresses his regret for allowing Mary to escape him: he wants to become "Mary's prayer" once again, and he would give anything to do so.

Chorus: The Efficacy of the Chant

So if I say save me, me save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say ten Hail Marys
Leave a light on heaven for me

Save me, save me
Be the light in my eyes
What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

What I wouldn't give to be
When I was Mary's prayer
What I wouldn't—save me—give to be
When I was Mary's prayer

The chorus doubled from its first iteration of four lines featured after the fourth verse to eight lines following verse six. Then it doubles again following the final verse, finishing with sixteen lines. The marvelous effect of the chant places the song squarely within the yogic practice of employing repetition to steady and direct the mind to its goal of union with the Divine.

The song finishes with the much enlarged chorus, which is not only musically pleasing, but also shares the efficacy of a chant that draws the mind closer to its spiritual goal.

Danny Wilson performing "Mary's Prayer"

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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