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Sweet Mary

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I lived at home as a young man
full of fears that paralyze
I was a believer in truth
and the truth was a lie
then I slept with Sweet Mary
and she made me realize
there are more ways to be born
than there are ways to die

When I was a young boy
I could count one to ten
I caught snakes in glass jars
and kept them for friends
A glass jar’s good intentions
but no natural bed
coiled and uncoiling
and your days never end

I saw the black bird on the sapling
I saw the snake on the stone
Black bird flew down
and took him for her own
That’s the world turns,
that’s the way we must go
You can never be free
till you can be swallowed whole

I’ve stayed true to Sweet Mary
she hides my pain when I call
Her throat’s like cold whiskey
she’s my wailing wall
And her breasts turn the leaves
spin you dreams where they fall
Go to her forgotten and empty
She will give you them all

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I think Sweet Mary was the first song I ever wrote, maybe the second. It was more like a poem. I used to call it Sweet Mary Catbird, but then one day I learned that catbirds don’t eat snakes; they’re vegetarian. I was confusing the bird with the mammal, and changed catbird to black bird. A black bird could be a crow; and crows, like the French, the Chinese, and the very rich will eat just about anything including snakes. So black bird does fine.

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