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Released: 2024

“Mary Boone” by Vampire Weekend is steeped in a nostalgic meditation on love, reminiscence, and the inevitable passage of time. The lyrics delve into the complexities of the human condition and personal identity, while being shrouded in imagery of urban life and artistic references.

As we delve deep into its lyrical brilliance, we start with “Painted white, new in town / You weren’t hiring, but I was looking.” The protagonist seems to be an outsider to the city, a newcomer yearning for employment. This conveys an undercurrent of desperation and the struggle of adapting to a new chapter in life.

“In those days, my working days / Came in from Jersey, not from Brooklyn,” further intensifies feelings of displacement and alienation. The differentiation between New Jersey and Brooklyn might seem trivial to some, but, in the context of the song, it’s a symbol for the class divide and cultural disparities within the city itself.

The recurring chorus, “Mary Boone, Mary Boone / I’m on the dark side of your room / Mary Boone, Mary Boone / Well, I hope you feel like loving someone soon,” adds a melancholic fabric to the song. Mary Boone isn’t just a figure from the past; she embodies the protagonist’s longing for emotional connection, and their yearning for a love that feels distant and unobtainable. The ‘dark side of your room’ could allude to the unspoken, darker intricacies of relationships or unreciprocated feelings.

Where the song really shines is in its penultimate verse: “Book of hours, Russian icons / And sand mandalas and Natarajas / And hex-sign barns, Ando churches / And whirling dervishes, long exposures / And these two tunnels go west and east.” The imagery of religious, artistic, and cultural symbols suggests a search for purpose and meaning. The “two tunnels go west and east” could represent the crossroads of life and the divergent paths one can take.

In a nutshell, “Mary Boone” is a poignant exploration of love, identity, and the all-too-human endeavor to find purpose in an inexplicably perplexing world. It’s a complexly woven narrative that undertakes the universal theme of chasing dreams in the backdrop of the ever-changing city life. The feelings evoked by the lyrics are universal, yet deeply personal, making “Mary Boone” a gem in Vampire Weekend’s discography.

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