Consisting of Los Angeles band groupies, the GTO’s were one of many experimental music projects undertaken by rock legend Frank Zappa in the late 1960s. Girls Together Outrageously’s most famous member was best-selling author Pamela Des Barres, who wrote tell-all books about her exploits with the many musicians she slept with. A condensed history of the group can be found here.
Yet, it was a song credited to GTO’s member “Miss Cynderella” that would perk up the ears of any Arkansan, “The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady.” It appeared as the opening track on their album, “Permanent Damage,” with the line, “She creeps down the lane as sane as you make her … ” with following lyrics that are, at times, indecipherable.
Now more than 40 years later, “Permanent Damage” is more of a sociological time piece with a “who’s who” of rock and pop music that included contributions from Davy Jones of The Monkees, Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart.
“The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady” should have a good story behind it, but any details fall flat except for one online forum post that suggests it was a retelling of a story by group member Miss Cynderella, whose parents honeymooned in Eureka Springs. (“Miss Cynderella,” a k a Cynthia Wells, was briefly married to John Cale of the Velvet Underground. She died in 1997.)
Yet, Eureka Springs, in the late 1960s, was on the verge of coming into its own counter-culturally. The town with steep, curvy streets lined with Victorian-era buildings made an attractive location for artists and hippies that, today, has led to a city government decriminalizing marijuana usage and become one of the more LGBTQ-friendly towns in the South. (Roger McGuinn of The Byrds used to spend summer vacations in Eureka Springs as a child.) It was a perfect local for a GTO’s song, whether the group members were aware of it or not.