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Quintessential Albums :: Got No Shadow (1998) :: Mary Lou Lord

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A Little History:

Got No Shadow is an album by Mary Lou Lord, released in early 1998 on Work Records.

The first track on the album, His Lamest Flame is a reference to the Elvis Presley song “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame“.

The song She Had You became a hit in the Philippines, it was played in a FM radio NU 107 midnight count down.

The song Lights Are Changing is a cover song, the original done by British band The Bevis Frond, It appeared on their 1988 album, Triptych.

The song Some Jingle Jangle Morning is a re-recording of the same song which appeared on Mary Lou Lord’s debut 7″ EP for Kill Rock Stars in 1993. The song is said to be about Kurt Cobain, as Mary Lou was briefly involved with Kurt in the early 1990’s at the beginning of Nirvana’s rise to fame.

The song Shake Sugaree is a cover of an old folk and blues song written by Elizabeth Cotten.

On the album’s release, Rollilng Stone described it as “…a seamless collection of folk-rock that offers more than a glimpse of Lord’s roots playing for passersby in London and Boston subway stations. Largely a collaborative effort with her mentor and songwriting idol Nick Saloman of the British psychedelic outfit the Bevis Frond, ‘Got No Shadow’ comes two years after Lord’s self-titled indie EP, a subsequent record label bidding war for her services and a spate of publicity she probably could have lived without.”

In the same interview with Rolling Stone, Mary Lou Lord was asked what she hoped people’s reaction to the album would be. She answered with the following response:

The best thing that could happen is if some young woman or person came up to me and said ‘You inspired me to write music’ and gave me a tape of their stuff. If you can jolt someone into writing a song, if they feel they have no choice but to do it, I think that’s just great. Because there’s a point when you’ve listened enough to other people’s music.”

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What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?

The late 90’s found me standing at a crossroads in my life which would lead to many changes, and paths that would lead me to life-altering decisions and moving out of state for the first time. My heart was pulled in so many directions, and I was desperately searching for meaning and self-identification and direction. I’d learn eventually that there are no clear answers, and I would learn eventually to be okay with that, but in 1998 I was determined and curious, and oh so in need of something to hang on to.

Music was what I found. It is what I always find, really. Music ever my religion and my spirituality and my soul mate and forever love. I identified mostly with female artists, grrrl rock and indie folk and all that would be so quintessentially “90’s“. I happened upon Mary Lou Lord’s album at a small record store by the beach and I fell hard and fast for it, listening to it on repeat days at a time. So many of the songs on this album found their way on countless mix tapes I made. I remember wanting everyone I knew to hear the songs, especially Western Union Desperate and Some Jingle Jangle Morning.

This morning I was listening to Bob Dylan sing Mr. Tambourine Man and the lyric came up that sings “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me, in the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you” and I was immediately reminded of this album. I pulled my car over and found Got No Shadow on Spotify, and played it in its entirety for the rest of my morning commute, singing-a-long to all the songs and feeling very nostalgic for me at 29. I knew then that it was the album to write about today. This time around some of the songs hit me differently, new perspectives and new lines that got my attention, I love how that happens with music and books and film. I still love the album so much.

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My Top 5 Favorite Songs:

1. Western Union Desperate

So hey, California here I come,
I’ve got a backpack and a sunburnt thumb.
I hope my compass is tried and true,
cause when I need a friend it’s still you
.”

2. She Had You

“I have respect now,
I always knew I would,
’cause I had a passport out of the neighborhood.
And when I go back,
I always see her there,
I ask how she’s doing,
not that I really care.
She’s still on the corner,
she’s still going nowhere,
but she had you.”

3. Some Jingle Jangle Morning

Somewhere it all got crazy,
and now it’s like a dream,
and I knew that I blew it from the start.
I was too freaked out to deal with it all,
and too fucked up to care;
I stood right there and watched it fall apart
.”

4. Lights are Changing

“All that summertime I revolved around your eye,
in accelerating spirals in an asymmetric sky.”

5. Shake Sugaree

“Oh, Lordy me,
didn’t I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is down in pawn.”

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