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Mary Gauthier finds hope in hard lives, and even in a busted guitar

Mary Gauthier grew up an orphan in New Orleans. She was drinking by the time she was 12, ran away from home at 15 and spent her 18th birthday in jail.

Photo by Chad Cochran

Still, she managed to build a career as a chef. But she bottomed out at 27, getting arrested for DUI on the opening night of the restaurant she co-owned in Boston. That was in 1990 and she’s been sober ever since.

After she got sober, she started writing songs, then performing, and eventually, she made it to Nashville, where her songs have been recorded by everybody from Jimmy Buffett to Boy George.
She released her 11th album this year — it’s called “Dark Enough To See the Stars.” And she has also written a book, called “Saved By a Song,” which is part memoir, part study of some songs she’s written and others she loves.

Mary is wide open about her past, her place in the music world, and her belief in what music can do. She makes me believe, too.

Mary Gauthier songs in this episode

  • "I Drink"
  • "Mercy Now"
  • "Drag Queens and Limousines"
  • "Till I See You Again"

Other music in this episode

  • Indigo Girls, "Strange Fire"
  • John Prine, "Sam Stone"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.