(Debuted June 6, 1987, Peaked #23, 20 Weeks on the Charts)
I knew a girl named Mary in 1987. She lived in a different town so I never got to see her that often, but I enjoyed the few times we spent together. She was a couple of years older than me, so she moved on with life by the time summer came around. Ironically, that same summer I heard this song in heavy rotation on the local radio station. I thought of her every time I heard the song that year. Actually, I still sometimes wonder how things turned out for her because I never saw her again after that.
But I'm not here to write about her.
Danny Wilson wasn't a person. Instead, it was the name of the group, which -- like Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper and others who used names -- led to a little bit of confusion. They were originally called Spencer Tracy but changed it after objections from the late actor's family. Instead, they used a fictional name, taken from the 1952 Frank Sinatra film Meet Danny Wilson. That film also served as the title of the album that included "Mary's Prayer." Despite their obvious affection for American screen legends, Danny Wilson hailed from Scotland.
While the lyrics point to the good girl who got away after the one she liked took her for granted, there certainly is a fair amount of religious imagery as well. Going beyond the use of prayer in the title, other words such as "blessed," "heaven," "save me" and "light" appear, as does the idea of saying ten Hail Marys. This may have confused listeners who assumed Mary was the one in the Bible, even though a line like "blessed is the millionaire who shares your wedding day" implies that it doesn't.
"Mary's Prayer" showed up later on in the 1998 film There's Something About Mary. It appears in a segment that was supposed to take place in 1985, which annoys the part of me that keeps shouting, "wrong year!"