Mary Dyer was a protestor—a Puritan-turned-Quaker who did not agree with Boston's law banning Quakers from the colony. Being arrested three times (and narrowly escaping a death sentence) for publicly defying the newly instated law was not enough for Mrs. Dyer, who returned to Massachusetts a fourth time to protest the law. So she was hanged on Boston Common June 1, 1660 for the crime of being a Quaker in Massachusetts, and she's one of the four executed Quakers known as the Boston martyrs.
Mrs. Dyer is but one of many historical figures featured in the Dimes upcoming album, The King Can Drink The Harbor Dry,
a concept album about the people, events and history of Boston, Massachusetts. “These stories, trials, and the willingness of people to stand up and fight for what they believed in have really inspired all of us over the past year. In some ways, it feels like we've actually come to know these people and it's really been an incredible experience,” vocalist Johnny Clay writes via email.
“Lovely Mary Dyer,” one of a few songs off the forthcoming album that the band has been kind enough to share with us, is a short, acoustic ballad about the defiant Quaker. And though the song ends with her death, the tune is not melancholy. Acoustic guitars plucked in major chords and Clay's soft voice crooning, “The lovely Mary Dyer / with her eyes could start a fire / Do do do / Do do do,” do not tell the story of Mrs. Dyer's death, but rather the story of her will. As the chorus breaks into “Mary with her head held high,” Clay gets some help with the vocals, creating a choral sound and heightening the air of the martyr's devotion to her cause.
This is a beautiful track and an intriguing concept for an album. With Clay's knack for literary songwriting and the Dimes' emotive music, it should be a powerful record.
The Dimes recorded a live video of “Lovely Mary Dyer,” for the Mississippi Rising
series, a documentary on the renovation of Mississippi Studios, and will be playing at the new and improved venue tonight with Chris Robley and the Fear of Heights and Al James of Dolorean fame. Maybe if we ask nicely, they'll play us some new songs!
Photo courtesy of Mathias Ailstock