Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella
Enjoying Mary Gauthier tunes with my critters!
But I’m closest to the one furthest away … the Jettster❤❤. My little husky- mountain-feist mix. With a little coyote thrown in for good luck! (Jett’s a rescue from Appalachia, land of the coy-dogs!)
Jett❤❤❤! So regal!
So tough! So emotionally lean. Not asking for anything but always thinking of me, aware of my situation. Jett always has my back! Literally inserts himself between me and any stranger, barking like a madman. In the city, in the country. I like that. He makes me feel safe …
Still, the ol’ J-dog is pushed away by pushy young ‘uns!
He finds himself on my bedroom floor – no matter how hard I try to bring him in. I call Jett!, he dutifully jumps up and settles by my thigh. I tell Lilac and (sometimes) Cece DOWN! But in a few minutes the old dynamics have reasserted themselves: Lilac snoozing heavily by my side, her head on my stomach. Cece curled in a ball by my head. Jett is back on the hard floor (where he doesn’t even sleep on his blankets). … Lilac and Cece are suffocating me!
Today, we are all in our places, with sun shine-y faces! Listening to my new musical discovery (3 days old!) – the AMAZING Mary Gauthier. She sounds a lot like Lucinda Williams, a personal fave, even works with Lucinda’s producer. But Mary’s got a voice, a perspective, all her own! She’s gay, ran away from home at 17, lived on the streets, became a successful chef/restaurateur!, got addicted … then clean and sober. Her music was born of the chaos, hurt and … love. Always love …
Her songs are lean and beautiful, like my Jett’s soul …
Gauthier has been around for a long time but I missed her greatness! Until a few days ago! I was listening to my boom-box radio on my kitchen window sill …
… and she came on! WOW! Raspy voiced, killer images … . Such a story teller! A GIFT! For free! To me! To anybody willing to play with their radio dial.
I love when an artist gets to me for the first time! Moves me in a way that most singer song writers/bands don’t because … I’m old! Hundreds of concerts, records, CDs, radio-to-my-ear days (on the beach, in the bedroom, in the car) have left my ears a little jaded (I’m slightly deaf in the left one). I’ve heard it all! Or I tell myself: So and so sounds like this person but is a weak replica.
My great musical loves, many discovered in my youth, like so many of our true loves, have come and gone. Or so it feels for the moment.
But then it happens! You’re driving down a Worcester road. You hear Nirvana on your car radio for the FIRST time and even though you’re already in your early 30s and feel middle-aged, you just gotta PULL OVER, STOP going to wherever you’re going and think: THIS IS FUCKING GREAT! I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYONE LIKE THIS BEFORE! WHO CAN THIS BE? The song, the artist (Kurt Cobain) got to you, the way most songs, places – even people – don’t!
And the next day you’re at Strawberry Records on Front Street asking the kid behind the cash register: WHO IS THIS? because you never got the band’s name on the radio. You sing the kid a snippet of the song: NO, I DON’T HAVE A GUN! NO, I DON’T HAVE GUN!!!
You are making a fool of yourself but don’t care. Neither does the kid. He listens, understands, gets you the Nirvana audio cassette. You tell him you wish it were an l.p. – he says nope – but you still leave Strawberries floating on air!
Hearing Mary Gauthier for the first time, a few days ago, was, for me, like hearing Nirvana for the first time: WHOA! Or the Beatles’ RAIN for the first time … or pogo-ing around my UMass dorm room many years ago as PUMP IT UP played on my turntable. I’m a college kid in Amherst, skipping bio class but hanging with my dorm’s pot supplier and a brilliant English major who uses two crutches to walk and drinks heavily. I’m on fire with Elvis. The second one! He is gonna play at UMass!! My boyfriend, a lighting guy for major rock ‘n’ roll acts, got us tickets. We’ll be going to the show!
Mary Gauthier has been around for a long time, and I listen to music ALL THE TIME. How did I miss her???
I think I heard a few of her tunes on the radio – but not her strongest ones, for me – the ones that grabbed me by the ass!
Everything, for me at least, has always started with a song …
And listening to music takes me to places, like Sigel Street in my beloved Green Island …
… to the crappy three decker where the little baby died recently. My friend’s friend saw the little one taken to the ambulance on a stretcher. He said, IT DIDN’T LOOK TOO GOOD.
No, “it” didn’t. Because it was dead.
And you think: malnutrition, drug-addicted parents or just a mom sleeping with her fragile babe in her bed … and then tragedy, born of love and poverty.
So the city gets a $$$donation and increases the number of baby boxes it gives to poor parents from 10 to 500.
Or you look at all Worcester’s neighborhood community gardens …
… and ask yourself, why are our kids still so undernourished? Why do 1 in 4 Worcester kids go to be hungry?
You see our city swimming pools – only three for the second largest city in New England!! Fuck our spray parks! Glorified sprinkler systems designed to save the city mucho bucks! The kids know the truth! I was an inner-city kid many many moons ago – I used to go into the Crompton Park city built mud-hole to splash around and cool off. That was before the City of Worcester had the vision and compassion to build several magnificent swimming pools in our neighborhoods! What a summer thrill for me! Swimming EVERY DAY IN THE NEW CROMPTON PARK POOL WITH MY KID SISTERS!
These days it enrages me to see the long lines outside the Vernon Hill pool on hot summer days …
… the Puerto Rican babies often held by too chubby grannies, scores of people old and young (most of them poor) waiting in line for an hour or more in the hot late July sun. … waiting to take a dip. Tney – or the cue of folks behind them, most brown-skinned and from all around Vernon Hill – can’t enter the pool area because it’s filled to capacity. That is the law – health and safety regs.
So cruel on the part of our city leaders. But Why should tney care? How can they relate? Their kids are driven to the beach or local state parks or the Greendale YMCA for dips in the cold, refreshing water. Or maybe they’ve got a swimming pool in their backyards for the whole family to enjoy! They don’t understand what it means to wait in line for an hour in the hot summer sun to take a dip … To be poor. To have no political connections. To be on the outside looking in …
Mary Gauthier does. Grateful❤