ONE of our favorite three-year-olds has officially entered...

Salmagundi

March 23, 1993

ONE of our favorite three-year-olds has officially entered her Mary Poppins phase.

Move over, Barney. Take five, Big Bird. In this little girl's household, every day's a holiday with Mary. Which means the video and the soundtrack are played and replayed to the point where the kid's parents are driving each other nuts unconsciously humming "Feed the Birds" day and night.

This Mary-mania reminds us there have been an inordinate number of popular songs that mention or pay homage to various Marys. Besides the "Poppins" tunes, we can think of George M. Cohan writing, "For it was Mary, Mary, long before the fashions came."

Baby Boomers ought to remember a number of Mary songs from the '60s: "Along Comes Mary" by the Association. "The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix. And another by a group whose name eludes us, which went, "Mary, Mary, where ya goin' to?" Anybody out there recall who did that one?

In 1970, the Beatles' "Let It Be" cited "Mother Mary," taken by some listeners to mean the mother of Jesus, while others thought it referred to Paul McCartney's mother, whose name was you-know-what. McCartney, by the way, had a minor hit in the '70s with a musical version of "Mary Had A Little Lamb."

Clearly there's something about the name -- a wholesomeness, an honorable plainness, a mellifluous quality -- that makes people want to sing about good old Mary. Will songs of the future trill similarly about, say, Nicole, Taylor, Lindsay, Ashley or any of the other popular girls' names of the moment? We have our doubts.

Mary. As Bert the chimney sweep says, "The cream of the crop. Give 'er the top." It's a grand old name.

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