Catchy title but it’s probably the only album of Mary Gauthier that I do not have… yet. On it is Our Lady of the Shooting Stars – she tells the story of her early days as a struggling singer/songwriter in the story behind that song.
Drag Queens and Limousines reminds me of my early days in San Francisco, of taking visiting family/friends to the famous Finocchios. Of starting work in the typography studio early in the morning next door to a restaurant and bar in what is now trendy SOMA (“South of Market”). As I ate breakfast before starting my work day, those coming off of graveyard or just up all night were knocking back a few beers. Great material for a song, right? I’ll have to file that away.
It took me a decade as a songwriter before I was able to tackle this project. It took me another two years of focused writing to complete the songs. It was by far the hardest work I’ve ever done as an artist—hard emotionally, physically and spiritually. I had to come face to face with some damn scary monsters. I had to make myself sit at my desk for 10 to 12 hours at a time, week after week. I had to research trauma, childhood trauma, and adoption trauma, and come face to face with my own denial of the effects of what had happened. But the inner work I was doing in therapy coincided with the work I was doing as an artist, and The Foundling songs crept up and out, cracking the floorboards of my fear, one at a time. I kept walking, and writing.
Listen to Mary’s own words about adoptees fighting the good fight for open adoption about 8 minutes into this video as the intro to Blood is Blood. As Mary says, “It’s time to stop the secrets, lies, and shame and let people know who they are and where they came from.” Amen!
Ironically, it was an article in The Oregonian in 2001 about adoption records becoming open (much to the protest of many birth mothers) that prompted me to start my search for my father. I am not adopted (I was raised by my mother and step dad), but the adoption community was really supportive in helping me in my own search.
Starting late as a singer/songwriter (38), Mary Gauthier spent another decade as a songwriter before writing her emotionally powerful The Foundling album so I shouldn’t be too disappointed that I haven’t been able to accomplish anything like that in my own songs… yet.
And while Mary Gauthier inspires me as a songwriter, I am not Mary Gauthier. We already have one of those. I’m still discovering who I am as an artist and very excited about the song I’m currently working on.