Gary Clark’s “Mary's Prayer”: A Yogic Interpretation
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.
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. And nothing in my interpretation contradicts anything the songwriter has claimed for his creation.
A Yogic Interpretation
The narrator/singer of the song, “Mary's Prayer,” is revealing his desire to return 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 awareness of the spiritual realm.
The metaphor for Soul-Awareness, (God-Union, Self-Realization, Salvation are other terms for this consciousness) is “Mary's Prayer.” That metaphor is extended by the allusions, “heavenly,” “save me,” “blessed,” “Hail Marys,” and “light in my eyes.”
First Movement: “Everything is wonderful"
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 God may write his/her own life experiences.
“She" refers to Mary, who has authority to make such judgments, as the narrator states. Mary, as the mother of one of God’s most important prophets, holds special power to know God’s will and dispense wisdom to all God’s children.
Therefore, the prayer of Mary is dedicated to each of God’s children, and her only prayer can be for the highest good of soul, and the highest good is that each offspring of God ultimately know him/herself as such.
Thus, Mary sends the faithful “every single day” and “everything is free.” Every creature, every human, every creation of God’s is given for the nurturance, guidance, and progress of each soul made in God’s image.
Second Movement: "I used to be so careless"
In the second movement, 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 God-union, but through his mistakes he had spurned that offering.
Third Movement: "Suddenly the heavens roared"
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 Movement: "So when you find somebody to keep"
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: "So if I say save me save 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 Mary’s,” 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.
Fifth Movement: "Blessed is the one who shares”
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 Movement: "So when you find somebody to give”
The sixth movement 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."
Seventh Movement: "If you want the fruit to fall”
The penultimate movement 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 Movement: "And if I can't reach the top of the tree”
The final movement 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.
The song finishes with several repetitions of the Chorus, which is not only musically adept but also shares the efficacy of a chant that draws the mind closer to its spiritual goal.
Danny Wilson performing "Mary's Prayer"
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes