The Sounds of Weirdness, Pt 7

The seventh title on the Sounds of Weirdness album brings us to New Brunswick, New Jersey and features a location and story that I’m very familiar with as I grew up right next door in East Brunswick. When I was a kid there used to be a large store right before the bridge crossing into Edison called Route One Flea Market (It was originally the Great Eastern Discount Department Store but that was before my time.), which was purchased and turned into an AMC Loew’s Theater and a couple restaurants, which were recently joined by the ugliest apartment/condo buildings that I’ve ever seen.

Through all these changes, which I damn well hope includes those horrid eyesores, there has been one constant: on the grounds of the Market and then later on in the Loew’s parking lot on a raised plot of land protected by concrete and an iron fence, there stands a grave. This is the final Earthly resting place of Mary Ellis, her story well-known to visitors, local residents and historians, and even the knowledgeable music buff.

By historical record, Mary was a spinster who was born in 1750 and died in 1828. By popular oral tradition, she was a lovelorn woman who fell in love with a sea captain. As such stories go, the captain vowed to marry her when he returned from his voyage, which of course never ended up happening. It’s said that Mary would go to the spot where the grave stone now stands (It’s actually a communal family plot. Mary isn’t the only person interred there.) and watch for his ship on the Raritan River below. More romanticized versions have her perched on the “Widow’s Watch” of the family house that then occupied the land.

Her story and lasting mark on local Jersey history was not, in fact, the inspiration behind Looking Glass’s “Brandy”, but it is the tale behind Autumns Fall’s “A Place For Mary”. On such an eclectic, varied, and plain strange album the song’s lovingly tuned acoustic folk style is a beautiful standout, bringing Mary’s story and changing world to vivid life for anyone who has lived in or visited the area as it blends history with cleverly embedded references to the town’s growth over time.

Autumns Fall on YT

This was another case where I was lucky enough to find a music video recorded by the band. The studio clip has also been included for clarity.

Mary, we met at the movies
But would could top your life
The love you lost and the time you spent waiting
For your captain to come home

(whistling)

Mary, the years have changed your world
But you’ve always held your ground
You weathered storms with [an] angels grace
Even with your captain not around

You spent your mornings dreaming
Days by the riverside
You rode into the sunset
Waiting for your time

A place for Mary
Is where she’ll stay and wait
For all eternity behind Heaven’s gate
A place for Mary
A space for her to rest
Dressed in her Sunday best
A place for Mary

Mary, if I saw you at the market
You’d have a smile on your face
A modern world was built around you
But you’ll always have your space

A place for Mary
Is where she’ll stay and wait
For all eternity behind Heaven’s gate
A place for Mary
A space for her to rest
Dressed in her Sunday best
A place for Mary

Is where she’ll stay and wait
For all eternity behind Heaven’s gate
A place for Mary
A space for her to rest
Dressed in her Sunday best
A place for Mary

A place for Mary (x3)

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