The Blasters

Marie Marie

Composed by Dave Alvin

Song Review by

A guy sits in his car, waiting for a date with his girlfriend -- does the essential iconography of rock & roll songwriting get more timeless and concise than this? Dave Alvin wrote more than a few "instant classics" during his tenure with the Blasters, but "Marie, Marie" was one of his first, and one of his finest. While early rock & roll has always been regarded as "teenage music," its roots were in R&B, country, and jazz styles where performers often dealt with more mature subject matter, and "Marie, Marie" takes the cars and girls combination of early rock and puts a more thoughtful spin on it. In "Marie, Marie," it's Friday night and our just-got-paid narrator wants to paint the town red with his gal. However, her parents don't approve of him (another classic theme), and all he can do is sit in his car and watch as she decides if her greater loyalty is with her family or her boyfriend. Thematically, "Marie, Marie" is a bit more emotionally complex than the average rockabilly tune, and Alvin's pithy but vivid lyrics paints our hero's longing in broad but telling strokes. Alvin married his lyrics to an indelible rockabilly shuffle which left him room for a pair of blazing rapid-fire guitar solos, and with drummer Bill Bateman and bassist John Bazz cooking up a mighty backbeat behind the tune and Phil Alvin's vocal giving the tune all the fire and finesse one could hope for, "Marie, Marie" took the best of old-school rock & roll and served it with a passion and intelligence that showed the old dog had lots of new tricks left in him. The Blasters first recorded "Marie, Marie" in 1980 for their debut album, American Music; while the track quickly became a fan favorite, the album soon went out of print. In 1981 the band signed with Slash Records and the song became the lead-off number on their first nationally distributed album, simply called The Blasters. By that time, British retro-rocker Shakin' Stevens had already had a hit with the tune in Europe, and while his version wasn't much to write home about, it did provide the band with some much-needed publicity (and royalty checks). In 1987, zydeco star Buckwheat Zydeco recorded a rollicking cover of "Marie, Marie" for his album On a Night Like This, with a number of other Cajun and zydeco versions soon following; the song became something of a staple among Louisiana musicians, which became a subject of both amusement and great pride for songwriter Dave Alvin. And Christian pop-punkers MxPx reminded listeners of the Blasters' ties to L.A.'s punk and new wave scenes when they recorded a stripped down and sped up version for their EP On the Cover.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
American Music 1980 Hightone / Shout! Records 2:02
The Blasters 1981 Rhino / Slash 2:05
The Blasters Collection 1991 Rhino / Warner Bros. 2:05
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1980-1981 1995
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:08
No Image 1997 Private Music
Teen-Age Cruisers [Part] 2000
Various Artists
Part Records 2:05
The Slash Recordings 2002 Wounded Bird 2:07
Trouble Bound 2002 Shout! Factory 3:56
The Blasters Live: Going Home 2004 Shout! Factory 3:22
HighTone Anthology: Rockin from the Roots 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:04
Live 1986 2011 Rockbeat Records 2:43
blue highlight denotes editor's pick