Lucy Jordan’s Ballad in Thelma and Louise

*as published on May 21, 2021

Today marks 30 years since the release of Thelma and Louise in theaters. The sexism backstage, with executives shocked by Ridley Scott‘s choice to make a road movie starring two women, is already known and discussed. The film is a landmark and is brilliant. I will return to it to talk about Hans Zimmer, but today I wanted to remember one of the most moving and remarkable scenes in the film. That’s when Thelma and Louise, already wanted, criminal and dead-end, pass through the Grand Canyon at dawn.

Thelma, after a lot of confusion, is a safe woman. Quiet. “I’ve never felt so awake, things feel different,” she says. The scene is set against one of Marianne Faithfull’s classics, The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

The song was written by one man, poet, and musician Shel Silverstein, and describes the disillusionment and mental deterioration of Lucy Jordan, an ordinary housewife who realizes that her romantic dreams will never come true. Lucy climbs to the top of a building to kill herself (super spoiler of what would happen to the characters soon after) but is “saved” by a man who reaches out and takes her in a white car “to Paris”, which is, a nurse in an ambulance who takes her to a psychiatric clinic.

The version used in the film is one of the best known, the recording by Marianne Faithfull. From the 1979 album Broken English, the ballad also reflected the singer’s life as she struggled with drug addiction. It is one of the biggest hits of his career and he already had a hoarse voice, which today is his strongest characteristic. Critics, who called Marianne the “Debbie Harry of the ’60s”, loved the song’s pained rendition. In fact, it completes the scene and gives greater emotion to the conclusion.

The morning sun touched lightly on
The eyes of Lucy Jordan
In a white suburban bedroom
In a white suburban town
As she lay there ‘neath the covers
Dreaming of a thousand lovers
‘Till the world turned to orange
And the room went spinning round

At the age of thirty-seven
She realised she’d never
Ride through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair
So she let the phone keep ringing
And she sat there softly singing


Little nursery rhymes she’d memorized
In her daddy’s easy chair
Her husband, he’s off to work
And the kids are off to school
And there were, oh, so many ways
For her to spend the dayShe could clean the house for hours
Or rearrange the flowers
Or run naked through the shady street
Screaming all the way

At the age of thirty-seven
She realized she’d never
Ride through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair

So she let the phone keep ringing
As she sat there softly singing
Pretty nursery rhymes she’d memorized
In her daddy’s easy chair

The evening sun touched gently on
The eyes of Lucy Jordan

On the roof top where she climbed
When all the laughter grew too loud

And she bowed and curtsied to the man
Who reached and offered her his hand
And he led her down to the long white car
That waited past the crowd

At the age of thirty-seven
She knew she’d found forever
As she rode along through Paris
With the warm wind in her hair

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