Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand

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"Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand"
Single by The Who
from the album The Who Sell Out
B-side "I Can't Reach You"
Released 2 February 1968
Recorded 24 October 1967. De Lane Lea Studios, London
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:04
Label Track Records
Producer(s) Kit Lambert

"Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" is a song written by Pete Townshend and first released on The Who's 1967 album The Who Sell Out, and subsequently on several Who compilation albums. It was released as a single in The Netherlands backed with "I Can't Reach You".[1] The song has a Latin-influenced melody and ambiguous lyrics that have been subject to a variety of interpretations. The song has been released in several different versions, sometimes under the title "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hands", also hyphenated (on the MCA LP) as "Mary-Anne with the Shaky Hands".[2] It has also been covered by a number of other artists, including The Nils, Petra Haden, Opal Butterfly and Chris Richards.[3][4][5]

Lyrics and music[edit]

Unlike many Who songs from the 1960s, "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" recalls the typical pop song convention of praising a pretty girl[6] but does not provide any description of her appearance,[6] focusing instead on Mary Anne's hand tremor.[6][7][8] The reason for the shaking is not clear:[6][7] Mary Anne may have some affliction[7] or else the song may be, as Chris Charlesworth describes it, The Who's "second great song about masturbation" (after the band's 1967 single "Pictures of Lily"):[7][9] Steve Grantley and Alan Parker suggest that the reason can be inferred from the line "What they've done to a man, those shaky hands", although the actual lyrics are, "What they've done to her, man, those shaky hands." [8] Rolling Stone praised the "barely-beneath-the-surface humor of the lyric".[10]

The song has a melody described by Allmusic's Mark Deming as "charming" and "a tune you couldn't forget even if you tried".[6] Author John Atkins describes the song as a "delightful pop song in the Everly Brothers mold",[9] while Charlesworth suggests that, regardless of the lyrics, the song "would have been a winner on melody alone".[7] Instrumentation on the version of the song on The Who Sell Out includes Latin-style acoustic guitar from Townshend and drum breaks by Keith Moon.[6][7][10] Grantley and Parker describe the vocals as a cross between The Mamas and the Papas and Simon and Garfunkel.[8]

The version of the song on The Who Sell Out was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios on 24 October 1967.[1] Another version was recorded at Mirasound Studios in New York using electric guitar rather than acoustic guitar[7][8] and featuring an organ solo from Al Kooper.[7][8] This version is incorrectly stated as being the B-side of "I Can See For Miles" in the liner notes of the remastered The Who Sell Out, when in fact the mono version without organ solo was on the B-side. Grantley and Parker describe this version as having a "gentle atmosphere".[8] On this version Roger Daltrey employs a "shaky" tremolo on the word "shaky".[7] A mono mix of the electric version of the song was used as the B-side of the "I Can See for Miles" single in the US and Australia.[7][9] A stereo mix of this version was also included on the 1998 remastered version of the Odds and Sods album.[8][11]

Other appearances[edit]

"Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" was also used as the B-side of the "Magic Bus" single in Norway.[12] It has also been included on several compilation albums. The acoustic version was included on the 1968 compilation album Direct Hits.[7][13] The electric version was included on the 1985 compilation album Who's Missing.[7][14] It was also included on the 1994 compilation album Rarities Volume I & Volume II.[15] The acoustic version was also included on the box set Thirty Years of Maximum R&B.[7][16] A live version, recorded on 27 November 2000, was released on the 2003 Live at the Royal Albert Hall album.[17]

Cover versions[edit]

The Nils covered "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" on their 1996 album Green Fields in Daylight.[18] Petra Haden covered the song on her 2005 album Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out.[19] Opal Butterfly covered the song on the multi-artist compilation album What's the Rush, Time Machine Man? Psychedelic Jumble, Vol. 1.[20] Chris Richards covered the song on the Who tribute album Who's Not Forgotten: FDR's Tribute to the Who.[21]


  1. ^ a b Charlesworth, C. "The Who Sell Out Liner Notes". Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  2. ^ "Sinister Vinyl Collection". Sinister Salad Musikal's Weblog. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  4. ^ "Mary Ann with the Shaky Hand". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  5. ^ "Maryanne with the Shaky Hands". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Deming, M. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Charlesworth, C. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of The Who. Omnibus Press. pp. 17–18, 101, 113, 119, 123. ISBN 0-7119-4306-0. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Grantley, S. & Parker, A.G. (2010). The Who by Numbers. Helter Skelter Publishing. pp. 49, 128. ISBN 978-1-905139-26-2. 
  9. ^ a b c Atkins, J. (2000). The Who on record: a critical history, 1963–1998. McFarland. pp. 91–93. ISBN 978-0-7864-0609-8. 
  10. ^ a b "The Who Sell Out". Rolling Stone Magazine. February 10, 1968. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  11. ^ Unterberger, R.. "Odds and Sods". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  12. ^ "Magic Bus". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  13. ^ Eder, B. "Direct Hits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  14. ^ Unterberger, R.. "Who's Missing". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  15. ^ Prato, G. "Rarities 1966–1972, Vols. 1–2". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  16. ^ Unterberger, R.. "Thirty Years of Maximum R&B". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  17. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "Live at the Royal Albert Hall". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  18. ^ Rabid, J. "Green Fields in Daylight". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  19. ^ Sendra, T. "Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  20. ^ "What's the Rush, Time Machine Man? Psychedelic Jumble, Vol. 1". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  21. ^ Sendra, T. "Who's Not Forgotten: FDR's Tribute to the Who". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-26.