“The Wind Cries Mary” is a rock ballad written by Jimi Hendrix and released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience as the band’s third single on May 5, 1967. It reached no. 6 in the UK Charts. It is ranked number 379 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It has been covered by musicians such as Jamie Cullum, John Mayer, Xavier Rudd, Richie Sambora, Sting, Popa Chubby, Pat Boone and Caron Wheeler.
In the United States, the song was first released as the B-side to the “Purple Haze” single in June 1967 and later appeared on the August 1967 American version of the album Are You Experienced, where three tracks were deleted from the British LP version to make way for the band’s three singles that had been issued in the United Kingdom.
The song was recorded at the end of the “Fire” sessions. It is said to have been inspired when Hendrix and his then girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, had an argument over her cooking; after she stormed out of their apartment, Hendrix wrote “The Wind Cries Mary”, as Mary was Etchingham’s middle name. Another possible inspiration could be the poem “To Mary” by the English poet John Clare. Etchingham has said that many of the Dylanesque lyrics describe the test card that appeared at the end of BBC television transmissions at that time. However, this is probably a mistake on her part as that particular test card was not first broadcast until July 1967, while the song had been written, recorded and released months before. Hendrix mentioned “The Wind Cries Mary” in an interview with Sue C. Clark in December 1969, saying “…it’s like ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ is representing more than one person…”. Billy Cox, who was the bassist for the Band of Gypsys and long-time friend of Hendrix, has cited Curtis Mayfield’s influence on the song:
“‘The Wind Cries Mary’ was a riff that was influenced by Curtis Mayfield, who was a big influence for Jimi.”
The last line to Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict” was “and the wind cried Mary”.
The song was in included in Guitar Hero World Tour along with a live version of “Purple Haze”. It was also included as a downloadable track for the Rock Band series. “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Highway Chile” were re-released in 1983, on The Singles Album compilation.
“The Wind Cries Mary” is the title of the second episode of the fourth season of the FX Network’s Archer television series, with “Mary” being a reference to the gay-romance element of the storyline.