To us the songs of Mary Gauthier combine everything that is good about American music. The music is raw and honest Americana and her songs tell stories about real life that are so touching that they have an emotional healing effect.
Writing about real life is important to Mary Gauthier. “Because real life is the thing that presents the greatest challenge, and writing about it helps clarify it.” She explains. “Clarity comes from stories, and people will always go to stories because it helps them (us!) make sense of our lives. Witnessing other people’s lives through stories is a kind of medicine, and if those stories are full of lies and distortions, the magic is lost. I am sort of the anti-Disney. I think the magic is in getting it true, real, and emotionally honest.”
Your songs are very beautiful and often heartbreaking stories, where do you find the subjects and inspiration to write them?
“Inspiration is the easy part of writing. Inspiration comes all the time, through senses. The hard part is figuring out how to write about those things in a way that other people can feel it too. Van Gogh said he painted to show Theo (his brother) what he saw, and how he sees what he saw. Starry Starry Night was simply LOOK! Do you see that? It’s so beautiful! Like I said, inspiration happens to people every day. But the artists are the ones to transcribe it, and make it their life’s work to do so.”
Many of Mary Gauthier’s songs are autobiographical or about the people she has met in her life. She started writing songs when she was 35-years old. She was born in New Orleans where her mother left her in St Vincent’s Women and Infants Asylum. Mary was adopted when she was a year old by a couple from Thibodaux, Louisiana. When she was 15-years old she ran away from home. Struggling to deal with being adopted and her sexuality she used drugs and alcohol and she spent the next several years in drug-rehabilitation houses and halfway homes. Her 18th birthday was spent in a jail cell.
She opened a Cajun restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, called Dixie Kitchen. Mary ran the restaurant for eleven years. On opening night, July 12, 1990, she was arrested for drunk driving. She has been sober ever since.
How did your career evolve?
“My career has been about adding one fan at a time. It’s slow, but it’s building, and the method of adding one fan at a time works well. It’s not trendy, it’s not hip, it is not a fad. It’s a slow build.”
How do you feel about getting older?
“The physical part sucks. The spiritual part is fantastic. Wisdom comes in time.
It’s neither good nor bad. It’s the life cycle, and we are all in it. Acceptance of this is an important part of finding peace, and I accept, today, where I am at. I suppose it will get harder to accept as I get closer to the end, but maybe not. Depends on how much work I do in that area.”
Does ageing influence your work?
“I am sure it must, but I can’t measure it. I don’t think of myself as an age when I work, I just work. I think maybe I m getting better at my job, but who knows? It’s all a matter of opinion.”
What have you learned in life so far?
“That our bodies are not who we are-we are souls passing through on a bridge between two eternities. That love is the greatest calling, and the hardest row to hoe. That kindness is its own reward. That compassion is essential, but it needs boundaries. That I am in charge of my own journey here. That freedom is frightening.”
Watch our clip of Mary singing her song “Karla Faye”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbioUv_1fPY
Mary loves many things about her hometown Nashville: “I love walking the parks, Warner Park, Radnor Lake. I love my home, my Green Hills neighborhood. It’s comfortable, friendly, and safe.“
Mary Gauthier’s website: http://www.marygauthier.com/
Mary Gauthier’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/marygauthiersongs
Warner Parks facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Warner-Park-Nature-Center/274466987605
Radnor Lake’s friends facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofradnorlake