Mary Gauthier tells her story through her music in Sauvé par une chanson | Characteristics
In the first chapter of his new memoirs Saved by a song, Mary Gauthier recounts one of the most painful moments of her young adulthood. At 28, a young chef who had just opened his second restaurant, Gauthier was arrested for driving while intoxicated. She spent a night in a prison cell, where she experienced a flash of minute clarity. “I had a problem, writes Gauthier. “A serious problem.”
This moment is a particularly low point in Gauthier’s life and in his far-reaching book, released July 6 via St. Martin’s Publishing Group. As she quickly explains, it was the one that led her to discover songwriting as an outlet, which would ultimately become a career giving rise to a widely celebrated body of work. Saved by a song focuses on songwriting, but is compelling to anyone who believes in the transformative power of creating and sharing art. Drug addiction and homophobia-related trauma are among the challenges that Gauthier has faced, and finding ways to deal with them is sort of a common thread throughout the book.
“I wanted to use examples from my own life where songs have really been a big part of my deeper journey in recovering a lot of the things I needed to recover,” Gauthier told Scene in a phone call.
Songwriting played a major role in Gauthier’s recovery from addiction. Each chapter begins with the full lyrics of a song, including some of Gauthier’s most beloved catalog entries, such as “Mercy Now”, “I Drink” and “Drag Queens in Limousines”. Rather than creating constraints, this structure allows Gauthier to write her own story as she understands it, presenting her life as a collection of personal epiphanies rather than a chronological series of events.
The aforementioned first chapter, appropriately centered on its 1999 Drag Queens in Limousines The song “I Drink” clearly describes the circumstances that Gauthier hoped never to experience again. The experience of writing it down and discovering the power to create what she calls “complex simplicity” from such a real and raw moment changed her life.
“It took almost two years to sum up, collapse and find the essence of this song,” she writes in the book. “But our patience paid off. … Years later, Bob Dylan played it in the first installment of his Theme Time Radio Time show, read the lyrics and talked about me, introducing myself to legions of his listeners around the world.
Gauthier was never the kind of writer to shy away from difficult subjects in his songs. She tackled drug addiction, grew up as a ‘lonely queer kid in a fucked up family’ and, with the help of US veterans on the great 2018 Guns and rosary, the experience of war. It’s no surprise that his book expresses the same level of candor. He’s able to do this in even more detail than his songs, and with an eye on how Gauthier ultimately incorporated these events into his ever-changing understanding of herself.
“People who struggle with drug addiction and trauma, with difficult histories or difficult childhoods, are often fractured,” she says. “They bring a different person to different environments. The goal and hope of recovery itself is the integration of these different personalities into a single personality that consistently appears in every environment. … To become a person, to become consistent – that’s what writing songs has helped me. And my story is not that unique.
While most chapters begin with lyrics from one of Gauthier’s own songs, an exception is the third, which highlights the late John Prine’s beloved 1971 song “Sam Stone”. Although it does so obliquely, the chapter is particularly revealing about Gauthier. This allows her to write not only as one of our main songwriters, but also as a passionate fan and believer in honest, quality writing. She also shares her own connection to the Vietnam War, in which Prine’s main character fought. The war claimed the life of Gauthier’s cousin, Philip, and was a violent backdrop to his own troubled life at home.
“In the pantheon of American songwriters, John is one of the greats,” says Gauthier. “He was a friend. But long before that, I was just a super fan who went to see it whenever I could, long before I had written a song or imagined myself as a songwriter. What I wanted to touch on in this chapter was how prescient this song was to me. I was drawn to it, but it was also predictive of a lot of things in my life – one of which was my own addiction and the other was, one day, working with injured veterans who were battling all kinds of things. monsters. … It taught me the power of what one voice can do.
Throughout our conversation, Gauthier frequently refers to his songwriting with veterans. She has been working with veterinarians for about ten years now, and Guns and rosary was a nice showcase for some of this work. The time she spent writing with and getting to know veterans was a major driving force in how and why she wrote. Saved by a song.
“I was asked to write with wounded soldiers, who suffered from PTSD and multiple layers of trauma,” she explains. “I instinctively felt a sense of calm in this environment. It was like, ‘Oh, I see, I use songs and songwriting to overcome my own traumas, as well as to recover from addiction, and I feel like that can be helpful for them. . ‘ It gave me a perspective to look at what I was doing from the start through a different lens.
Gauthier originally envisioned Saved by a song as a practical guide for those hoping to write good, honest songs. This idea quickly evolved, thanks both to a larger publisher expressing his interest and to Gauthier’s realization that much of what makes his songs powerful comes from the life experiences that spawned them.
“For me, it’s a much better book and a broader vision,” says Gauthier. “So I tied the stories in my life to teaching songwriting, and the whole idea that developed as I progressed was that I think songs can be – if you need it – much more than entertainment. This is where I come from as a songwriter. This is where I come from as a songwriting teacher.
At the end of the book, Gauthier offers a short epilogue on his role as a writer and his hopes for how his music can change the lives of others. Writers like her, who care more about someone being touched by their work than they just hear, “aren’t the kind of songwriters who try to write songs for the hit markets. “. It’s a feeling that comes to life in the myriad of examples of how her work has promoted healing – for herself and for others – throughout the book.
“People ask me if I believe songs can change the world,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “My answer is yes, absolutely. Here’s how: A song can change a heart by creating empathy. A changed heart has the power to change a mind. And when a mind changes, a person changes. When people change, the world changes.
that of Marie Gauthier Guns and rosary Brightens up the veteran experience