Singing her stories: Mary Gauthier has put her hard-living days behind her, but you can hear them in the music.
Her only other comfort, was music: Springsteen, Dylan, Patti Smith. "I don't think there's a gay kid my age, male or female, who didn't fall in love with Patti Smith," she says with a chuckle. Gauthier enrolled at Louisiana State University, but her bad habits forced her to drop out, and she relocated to Boston. She worked her way up through various kitchens, attended culinary school, and eventually opened her own Cajun restaurant, Dixie Kitchen.
She finally got clean in her mid 20s, but Gauthier still had plenty of experiences to draw on while making Mercy Now (Lost Highway), her fourth album of edgy, half-sung, half-spoken vocals and desolate, folk-tinged songs, including her frank signature number, "I Drink." "I've been sober for a long time, but it's not like I've forgotten all the trials and tribulations," the singer, now 43, admits.
Gauthier, who moved to Nashville in 2001, applauds pioneers like Ferron and the Indigo Girls for paving the way for her to sign as an openly gay artist to a major label. But her own fan base rims heavy on the testosterone. "My audience is mostly straight guys who have had an inordinate amount of trouble with women. Just like me! They can relate."
In fact, one of Mercy Now's other highlights, "Your Sister Cried," was penned by a straight guy, Canadian alt-country vet Fred Eaglesmith, whose credits also include the Dar Williams fan fave "Wilder Than Her." "Fred has a huge lesbian following ... the same way fags are drawn to Dolly [Parton]," she claims. "You look around the audience at Iris shows, and it's a bunch of dykes going"--she sniffles--"'I love this guy!'"
After all her adventures, Gauthier is content with a troubadour's life, however unpredictable. Does she ever miss running a restaurant? "No," she replies. "I would say I miss the paycheck, but I make a pretty good living doing this." She laughs again. "Hell, this is a great gig. I feel like I'm getting away with something!"
Reighley is the author of Looking for the Perfect Beat (MTV/Pocket Books).
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|Author:||Reighley, Kurt B.|
|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Date:||Mar 29, 2005|
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