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Born in 1965, indie folk musician Mary Lou Lord first captured audiences as a subway busker in Boston, particularly on the Red Line. This iconic subway line even inspired the name of her music publishing company.

In the fall of 1991, before Nirvana’s explosion into mainstream fame, Mary Lou Lord developed a relationship with Kurt Cobain. Their relationship has been a source of much speculation. This article will explore this topic alongside details about this important figure in Kurt Cobain’s life.

Who Is Mary Lou Lord?

Mary Lou Lord’s passion for music began early in Salem, Massachusetts. She channeled her interest into a college radio DJ gig from the impressive age of 13 to 16.

After a stint at Boston’s Berklee School of Music, Lord embarked on an adventure across the Atlantic. In London, she discovered the art of busking. She moved back to Boston and continued to play mostly acoustic covers on city sidewalks and in subways, which she eventually continued to do for the next nine years.

Mary Lou Lord shares what led her to sing in subways on her website: “I had never really thought about being a musician myself until I became a busker. It was great…I could play the same song over and over all night, and it really helped me out. The money was minimal, but it was better than being a waitress”.

Meanwhile, Mary Lou Lord discovered bands and artists who would greatly impact her: Daniel Johnston, Shawn Colvin, and Elliott Smith. While these names weren’t yet famous, Lord, besides her compositions, would cover their songs to help bring attention to them.

Mary Lou Lord established herself in the indie rock scene by 1994. Her talent caught the attention of a Kill Rock Stars (KRS) executive, who signed her to the label. After contributing to a KRS compilation album, Lord released her debut EP in 1995. This was followed by another EP, “Martian Saints,” in early 1997.

In 1997, Lord jumped to a major label, signing with Sony Music’s Work imprint. Her full-length major-label debut, “Got No Shadow,” arrived in January 1998.

But between the streets of London and Boston and the contract with Work, Mary Lou Lord met Kurt Cobain, and a friendship was born…

In late 1991, before ‘Nevermind‘ came out, Mary Lou Lord received an advanced album copy. That was the first connection she had with Kurt Cobain. In September, she will meet Kurt Cobain in person in a music club in Boston called “The Rat” after attending a Melvins gig.

In the first few minutes, they discussed bands they liked, particularly Daniel Johnston, Pastels, and Vaselines. A sense of empathy was evident between them from the very beginning. Besides music, Kurt Cobain found someone in Mary Lou Lord to confide in. He spoke of his past, father, and ex-girlfriend Tobi Vail, who had left him, and how that hurt him.

They talked for hours on end, and when Kurt Cobain showed up at her apartment the next day and Mary Lou Lord played him two songs from ‘Nevermind’ on guitar, Kurt Cobain couldn’t believe it. Two days later, on September 24th, ‘Nevermind’ was released, and they were walking hand-in-hand. Kurt Cobain and Mary Lou Lord were officially dating.

Kurt Cobain insisted that Mary Lou Lord attend a Nirvana tour in London. Reluctant and without much money, she accepted the invitation and traveled from Boston at the height of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ‘s popularity on MTV. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were no longer underground, like their last meeting.

At the hotel where they were to meet, Mary Lou Lord found an enthusiastic Kurt Cobain with all the fame the MTV video was bringing to the then-small Seattle band. The first time Cobain saw himself on television, Lord was there to witness the occasion.

After Tracy Marander and Tobi Vail, Mary Lou Lord was Kurt Cobain’s third romantic relationship. And while his relationship with Tobi had been brief (less than 4 months in 1990), his relationship with Lord would be even shorter, lasting only two months. There is much speculation about whether the two had a romantic relationship. Still, based on accounts like Craig Montgomery’s (Nirvana’s live sound engineer from 89-93), who confessed that Kurt once told him about Mary Lou being his girlfriend, we can be more certain that this relationship did indeed happen.

Their relationship was short but intense, mirroring Nirvana’s rise to fame in many ways. The less than two months they dated coincided with Nirvana’s explosive transition from relative obscurity to international stardom.

Why Did Mary Lou Lord and Kurt Cobain Breakup?

When Mary Lou Lord was with Kurt Cobain in England, one of the nights they spent together at the hotel, she intercepted a long conversation between Kurt and someone on the other end of the phone. It was Courtney Love! Lord isn’t sure what Cobain and Love may have spoken about on the phone. However, she became suspicious.

The next day, Kurt Cobain surprised Mary Lou Lord with an invitation to join the band on their next tour stop. Still reeling from their previous phone call, she invented an excuse to decline. Then, the unexpected happened. Lord visited friends in London, where she watched Nirvana on a British TV program. Before the performance, Kurt Cobain declared, “I just want everyone in this room to know Courtney Love, the lead singer of the pop band Hole, is the best F*** in the world.” Lord was stunned.

I had been with him the night before,” Lord said. “I didn’t know who Courtney Love was.

Kurt Cobain had already met Courtney Love when he started dating Mary Lou Lord, but he wasn’t officially dating Courtney Love yet. Kurt and Courtney would start things up just a few weeks after Cobain met Lord, so he had these two women simultaneously.

Courtney Love announced her pregnancy shortly thereafter. This event has been speculated as a possible reason for Mary Lou Lord’s breakup with Kurt Cobain. In less than a year, Kurt Cobain had been involved with three women: Tobi Vail, Mary Lou Lord, and future wife, Courtney Love. And now, a baby was on the way.

Mary Lou Lord and Courtney Love Feud

From the beginning, Courtney Love was jealous of Mary Lou Lord for obvious reasons and claimed to have stalked and threatened Lord several times. She also claimed to have chased Lord through the streets of Los Angeles. In another episode of jealousy, Courtney Love saw a Mary Lou Lord album in Kurt’s vinyl collection and became furious, leading to a big argument.

This didn’t stop Mary Lou Lord from attending Courtney Love’s speech at Kurt Cobain’s funeral in 1994. However, after paying this final tribute to her ex-boyfriend, Lord quickly exits the event to avoid confrontations with Courtney Love.

Twenty years later, a new feud reignited in 2016 as Kurt Cobain’s ex, Mary Lou Lord, lashed out at Courtney Love on Facebook, who she called a “sociopathic money hungry, fame mongering, terribly dressed NO TALENT s–t bag.” Lord has alleged that for years, she endured harassment and intimidation from Courtney Love, which reportedly included threats directed towards Lord and her family. Lord respected Kurt and his daughter Frances and never spoke badly of Courtney Love, but that ended when Lord published the post below:


Has Mary Lou Lord collaborated with any other artists?

Mary Lou Lord has collaborated with several notable artists throughout her career. She has recorded cover songs with Elliott Smith, including “I Figured You Out” and “Thirteen.” Lord has also worked with artists such as Daniel Johnston, Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond, and Sean Na Na.

What are some of Mary Lou Lord’s most popular songs?

Some of Lord’s most popular songs include “His Indie World,” “Lights Are Changing,” “Some Jingle Jangle Morning,” and “She Had You.”

What genre of music does Mary Lou Lord perform?

Lord’s music primarily falls within the folk and indie rock genres. Her songs are characterized by stripped-down acoustic arrangements, emotive vocals, and introspective lyrics. While rooted in traditional folk music, Lord’s sound incorporates alternative rock, country, and punk elements.

What was her big break?

She gained recognition after appearing on a Kill Rock Stars compilation in 1993 and releasing a self-titled EP in 1995.

What is her most recent album?

Lord released a new album in 2022 entitled “She’d Be a Diamond.”

Does Mary Lou Lord have any children?

On December 31, 1998, Lord and Kevin Patey, from the band Raging Teens, had a daughter whom they named Annabelle Lord-Patey.

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