For the Sake of the Song: Mary Gauthier “Camelot Motel”

Signature Sounds 2002

I first heard this song being played by Bob Harris and it is not an exaggeration to say it changed my musical outlook. I was aware of americana music (whatever that is) but this was something else. It was a black-and-white film being played out on my radio in slightly under five minutes. The shabby, marginal  life of some working-class Americans laid bare with such stark simple honesty. The Camelot Motel was full of “Cheaters, Liars, and Fallen Angels”.

Occupying the rooms, we found among others, cheating wives, guys who have anonymously hooked up via the internet “whose heads are pounding from last night’s alcohol”. Jumpy armed robbers, “Strung out and nervous…picking up his pistol and putting his pistol down” and several one-night stands “Lancelot and Guinevere bang the bedpost in my ear”. Each had a reason to be there but in reality, they all wished they were somewhere else and almost certainly regretted the fact that they were there at all.

The interesting question is however why was she there? “I lie awake with a troubled mind thinking about what I left behind”. We never find out. All we know is that she had “damn good reasons for her sins”.

This a beautifully written, sparse song with a wonderful cinematic feel and was my true introduction to the genre. If you haven’t heard it before it’s definitely worth a listen, I hope you enjoy it.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments