March 11, Birthday of Mary Gauthier (b. 1962)

Since July 2016, I have been concentrating solely on female composers.  You can read about that in my post from July 19.  If I can’t find one born on the calendar day, I may not post.  On with today’s composer.

Mary Gauthier was born in New Orleans, where she was given over for adoption.  She was raised by an Italian family in Thibidaux, LA. She struggled with alcohol and drug abuse for years, then went to college and almost got a BA in philosophy.  She dropped out in her senior year and moved to Boston where she studied at a culinary school, after which she opened a restaurant called Dixie Kitchen.  She ran that for 11 years and began playing and writing music.  I know it’s not classical, but her songs, inspired by events in her troubled past, and her voice are quite powerful. Here’s her wikipedia entry.

Mercy Now
I Drink
Drag Queens in Limousines
Last of the Hobo Kings

About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

10 Responses to March 11, Birthday of Mary Gauthier (b. 1962)

  1. kvennarad says:

    I know and love the song ‘Mercy Now’. The trouble I find with Gauthier’s songwriting is that she has a chord-progression in her head and tends to be drawn back to it again and again.

    ‘Last of the Hobo Kings’ is poetry set to music. It reminds me a little of Bob Dylan’s ‘weird period’ but less weird. It reminded me of a poem I wrote ages ago, and which I want to share with you. I guess it’s a song looking for a singer. If you object, just delete this comment.

    The Ballad of the Northward Traveller

    I started out in Mexico with nothing much to say,
    Dressed in my brother’s shirt and jeans – got sunburned on the way.
    My name is Rosalita, but they knew me as Jose,
    And I kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    I met her up in Texas, in a beat-up whiskey joint,
    After seven days of drivin’, always drag and never point.
    I told her I’s a cowgirl – didn’t want to disappoint –
    But we kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    We spent our nights together underneath the prairie stars,
    While hands that roped the cattle made sad music on guitars,
    In kisses and in whispers we forgot the whiskey bars,
    And we kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    And when the drive was over, and the beeves in the stockyard,
    We cussed like blue-backed soldiers, for the drinkin’ it was hard.
    I shot a man to death for double dealin’ one marked card,
    So we kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    We bummed on board a freight train to Chicago in the night,
    A thousand bucks upon my head because of that gunfight.
    She whispered “Rosalita” from sundown until first light,
    And we kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    I dressed up in a stolen suit, we walked like man and wife.
    I made some money gamblin’ and got handy with a knife,
    But we longed for the prairie stars, got tired of city life,
    So we kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    It was in North Dakota that we met a Blackfoot girl,
    Played tambourine for quarters, and danced in a spinnin’ whirl.
    I minded us for movin’, but she stole my Texas Pearl,
    And I kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    So when I got to Calgary I rode in the Stampede –
    A girl will take a buckin’ bronco in her time of need –
    They said I shot a Mountie and it was a wicked deed,
    So I kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    I went on up the Yukon trail in search of yellow gold.
    I lived just like an Eskimo when winter snow got cold,
    And, somewhere west of Dawson, realised that I’d grown old,
    But I kept on, kept on travellin’ north.

    I wish I was in Texas underneath the prairie sky,
    To hear her whisper “Rosalita” as the stars spin by.
    Maybe I’ll take a southern trail some day before I die,
    Or I’ll keep on, keep on travellin’ north.

    My soul lives under Texas skies where cattle trails are long,
    My mind is set on headin’ south where surely I belong,
    My heart is with a Texas girl, her kisses, and her song,
    But I’ll keep on, keep on travellin’ north…

    Yes I’m the Northward Traveller; for ever and a day
    My eyes are on the polar stars, my feet are on the way
    That winds towards the Northern lights. The folk who know me say
    That I’ll keep on, keep on travellin’ north

    The South is for the desert sun, the shining Rio Grand’,
    The West is for the tumbleweed, the sagebrush, and the sand,
    The East is for the lawyers who condemn you out of hand,
    So I’ll keep on, keep on travellin’ north.

    Yes I’ll keep on, keep on travellin’ north…

    Liked by 1 person

    • kurtnemes says:

      Thank you. I love it. Are you looking for someone to set it to music? My brother-in-law plays in a band named the Subdudes. It reminds me of a song he wrote called Sarita and also a song by Doc Watson.


      • kvennarad says:

        Yes, I would dearly love someone to set it to music (along with several other of my ballads!). I think it wants sung. By all means see if your brother-in-law can do something with it, although it needs a female voice to carry off what I intended. The original idea was a kind of lesbian Brokeback, but when I got into it, it came out as a magic-realist journey through iconic images of ‘the West’.

        It’s one of my ‘American Voice’ poems. I have no direct connection with the USA.

        I had to go searching for the Subdudes as the link above didn’t work, but having found ‘Sarita’ and having listened to Doc Watson’s ‘Tennessee Stud’ (I am familiar with that track). Yes, there’s a similar feel there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • kurtnemes says:

        I was thinking about Brokeback when I read it! Can you send it to me as a .PDF with all your contact and copyright information? Want to make sure it’s protected. The subdudes are close to the New Orleans music world and some female artists as well. Best

        Liked by 1 person

      • kvennarad says:

        Sure, please give me your contact details.


      • kvennarad says:

        Sent. By the way, are you aware that there’s an unmoderated comment from me on this thread?


      • kurtnemes says:

        No. Where is it?


      • kvennarad says:

        I can see it down below, bearing the legend “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” You should have received an email telling you it was there and needed approval.

        If your site is anything like mine, click “My Sites” (top left), then “WP Admin” bottom left, then “Comments” (somewhere on that menu), and you should find one unmoderated comment from me.


  2. kvennarad says:

    I thought I would share some of my ballad-writing with you. It’s something I do from time-to-time. Often I take a Child Ballad and re-work it.

    This one is a reworking of a Scottish song. I imagine it being sung to a banjo in an Appalachian voice. Though the subject is sombre, I can ‘hear’ the song with a steady beat, almost quick, in a major key: The ‘crime’ of Susie Clelland was to love an Englishman; the ‘crime’ of Susie Dean here is (implied) miscegenation* and having a child out of wedlock.
    *I imagined the song as a period piece, from a time from when that kind of thing was, well, a thing!

    This one is much closer to a ‘British’ Child Ballad:

    I wrote this one for a Civil War (American, that is) re-enactment society, but never found out if they used it:–an-American-Civil-War-ballad–by-Mairi-bheag


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