Friday, January 22, 2010

There's Something About Mary: The Ballad of Mary Magdalen

Richard Shindell: The Ballad of Mary Magdalen


Cry Cry Cry: The Ballad of Mary Magdalen


This tale of Jesus' girlfriend's inner life after the ascension is one of my favorite songs from Richard Shindells' canon, and it's not hard to see why: the song offers a perfect set of all the things the ex-seminarian does best, from the fully humanized religious setting to the heartbreaking first-person portrayal of broken dreams framed in wistful imagery.

Shindell clearly likes it, too, as he has recorded this song three times: once on his sophomore release Sparrow's Point, again with folk supergroup Cry Cry Cry, with fellow coffeehouse circuit artist Dar Williams singing lead, and finally on his live album Courier in 2001. I actually posted the live version back in June for our Gender Benders theme, but since it's so apropos, here's his other two takes as a continued study in song evolution.

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