From Robert Palmer's 1980 album, Clues. Rod Stewart said at the time that this was one of the best songs he'd ever heard. It was ahead of its time; that's for sure. Perhaps he was listening to a lot of Kraftwerk?

The first time I heard it was in the mid-80's in Chicago, IL, while spending a few days with some old college buddies up there. One had become a big shot in an ad agency, and we were staying at his house in the city. It was amazing how much he'd changed with his newfound wealth and position. And not for the better.

After a morning of golf at Kemper Lakes and an afternoon of serious croquet in his yard (and I mean serious, with bets and loud cursing and tempers flaring), we cooked out and sat on the deck listening to the boom box.

This song came on, and I was immediately taken with the sound of it. This guy's name was John, and it just seemed so correct as the story of his new life and his new situation. If his wife had been named Mary, it would have been perfect. (Her name did start with an M.)

I don't know how many times in a row I played this song, each time louder and louder. He finally got his fill of it and stormed inside. The ad game had not only turned him into a raging alcoholic, it had ruined him as a person worth caring about.

Johnny’s always running around,
Trying to find certainty.
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain’t lonely.

Mary counts the walls;
Knows he tires easily.

Remaining lyrics removed due to © considerations.

Heck, I thougt I was alone in this...

I can recall hearing Johnny and Mary for the first time. I was in school, and we were testing the school internal sound broadcast system, because we were allowed to made a sort of radio program in the last 15 minutes of class. We had the Johnny and Mary single and we were running from class to class (it was late in the evening and the school was deserted), pumping up the volume to test how louder we can play the music.

I remember feeling something very weird an intense. I didn’t understand English at that time, so it was the music, it had to be the music. I was very young, 11 years old, maybe, it was something sexual, something that made me feel my life larger than it was, something outside that was pulling me.

Later on, I came to the conclusion that this was just another youth awakening, for the first time, I felt moved by a song that I heard by myself for the first time.
I mean, Lou Reed and David Bowie are my favourite artists, because I had two sisters older than me, and I heard that music all time at home. But I remember this song as a personal discovery, as a revelation of something very cool and at that time very powerful.

BTW, I had the chance to meet Robert Palmer when I was working at EMI, but that day we had two different artists in the city, so we have to split and I couldn’t go to the supper. My workmate later told me that he was a “gentleman”…

Cool damn Everything!

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