And as we walked down the streets of Boston that hold all those hallowed college bars, which look so very Good Will Hunting, I spotted her from across the street.
"That's Mary Lou Lord."
She was playing out on the street for about five people, one of them a friend of my friend with the knife, who showed us his stoner art, which we thoughtfully scrutinized before coming to our verdict: "More stoner art."
With us sitting there the audience numbered eight. Assholes walked by. One man who looked like Nick Nolte at his most white trash and even a little more white trash than that asked my friend with the knife to go for a ride with him, and she flashed him her knife. Mary Lou Lord recognized my friend and they had a little friendly chat, and Mary Lou Lord asked for requests and no one said anything, so since I felt sentimental I said "Nick Drake," and then she started talking to me, asked me to play a song, but I acted bashful and refused her invitation, partially out of stage fright and partially out of being too high to remember any lyrics.
A very drunken homeless man staggered by, veering more and more toward Mary Lou until he passed out violently on her microphone and amplifier, groaning tiredly and causing very loud feedback that made the upscale shoppers who filed by give us all some very sharp looks. People yelled at the vagabond vegetable until he got up, muttered something incomprehensible and shuffled off.
Mary Lou played some Big Star but I was starting to sour on the scene and started finding the thing too anti-stereotypical-indie to enjoy it. I started getting annoyed, so when she asked for more requests I shouted out, "Everett True," who was my music editor at The Stranger and who wrote an even meaner article about her than this one is going to be. She pretended not to notice, but I saw the brief psychological wound I'd inflicted, which thrilled me in a cheap bitter bitchy Northwesterner kind of way.
Really though, it was all right being there, if only because it was a destination and we had nowhere else to go. I got to tell you, though, all those songs about the cool wild girl Mary wishes she could be like, they're so high school, so My So-Called Life. This fucked Kurt Cobain, or claims to? It's like when I saw her on the streets of Olympia when I was 13, a big carnival with bad fireworks and a bad Beatles cover band that wouldn't play anything after Help, the first time I got high and went on a ride and they played "Rainy Day Women."
Afterward we saw her on the streets and went and watched her play for a little while because it was Olympia and we had nothing better to do. That's how I feel about Mary Lou Lord; she sort of sucks, but she's there, and you've gotta respect that.
Mary Lou Lord plays CB's Basement as part of CMJ on Thursday, Sept. 16.