Home' LOTL : JanFeb16 Contents Some fifteen years later, that same unmistakable
voice snakes its way down my phone line. Etheridge
almost gushes about Australia, excited to play here
again this March. Since 2012 - the last time she
wowed us - a lot has changed for this rock deity:
New album, new management, new wife.
At 54, Etheridge appears to have come full circle
- from her self-titled debut at 27, to her latest, again
tellingly titled This Is M.E . Her 12th studio release,
This Is M.E. is a paradoxical first for Etheridge - her
first collaborative album and her first independent
one. The collaborative effort does not change her
songwriting - Etheridge says it was the very thing
that pushed her creativity like nothing before. This Is
M.E . signs off with her wedding vows to Linda Wal-
lem, the I’ll-defy-you-not-to-be-moved ‘Who Are You
Sensuality saturates her body of work. Her pleas
speak to the thirst for sexual love in us all - Don’t you
want to get that high? Don’t you want to be satisfied?
And when that love splinters - Does she know just
how to shock you? Electrify and roccckkk you? - you
can almost hear incisors bared, claws unsheathed.
For a woman who dreams in red, this passion is
In 1988 when Melissa Etheridge lit our collective
consciousness, what she really wanted was to be
famous and for everyone to love her. She hailed from
a childhood where both parents were problem drink-
ers, and had described her home as ‘emotionless.’
Pointedly, she later tells me that it is human emotion
that drives her music. Her friend Rosie O’Donnell
enunciated the following words in our New York
interview a couple of years ago: ‘Fame is the im-
pending, glittering disaster.’
In 2004 when Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed
with cancer, what she really wanted was to get
healthy and to be around her loved ones. She now
considered music a pure celebration. Cancer was
an unexpected, upending ‘gift.’ Etheridge told Curve
in 2007, ‘ I touched the part we’re all trying to get to...
and all it was, was just being still. I just am. And I’m
beautiful and amazing and powerful, and everyone
is, and there’s just love.’
Etheridge was now holding mirrors up to every-
thing. She stopped eating meat. She publically
declared what the World Health Organisation de-
clared in October this year: That processed meat is
a carcinogen - something that causes cancer - and
that red meat is a highly probable carcinogen. She
had said, ‘ The meats...it’s really taxing us, and that’s
why we’re seeing this (cancer) epidemic.’
In the mire that is chemotherapy, battered about
by the treatments, Etheridge lost her hair. Still bald,
she did something that is trademark Etheridge - at
the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, she strode out on
stage and shared her searing version of ‘Piece of My
Heart’ by the singular Janis Joplin. Who else could
have possibly pulled this off? Etheridge births a gut-
felt and gravelly ode to Joplin; at one point her vocal
chords seem like a stretched elastic artery, on the
precipice of tearing. More than once has Etheridge
said that music is like breathing. And she sings as
though her very life depends on it. So maybe it does.
WHAT’S THE MOST MOVING MEMORY FROM
MAKING YOUR LATEST ALBUM?
Oh I just had the greatest time cause it was
my first independent album so it was kind of a
learning curve. I couldn’t really blame the record
company for anything! I am the record com-
pany! I learned more about budget, I learned
more about...just how you do things, so that was
fun. And the experience of working with Jerry
Wonda was one of my favourites. He was so
great to me in the studio, such a great musician,
so much so that I asked him to join my band.
Now he and a couple of his musicians are my
WHAT DO YOU FIND SURPRISING ABOUT AUS-
I don’t know if it’s surprising but I love Australia.
I love the people; I love the land - I just can’t say
enough. Every single time I’ve been down there,
it’s just been such a delight. I love your politics, I
love everything about Australia. I always have.
IF YOU KNEW THAT TODAY WOULD BE YOUR
LAST 24 HOURS, WHAT MUSIC WOULD YOU
(Laughs) I’d probably listen to my own! It would
be like listening to my life again and I would
probably say, hey, you know what? I did ok. I
lived an interesting life.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT LINDA THAT MAKES HER THE
TRUE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE?
Awww! You know what? What makes her the true
love of my life is that she made me see that the
true love of my life is myself. It was through Linda
that I learned how to love myself and be good to
myself and be healthy - to have a healthy relation-
ship with myself. It was through that that I could
have a healthy relationship with Linda.
WHEN YOU SANG YOUR VOWS, WAS THERE A
DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE?
Oh no there wasn’t, including mine! That...that
was really special. She is really something.
WHEN YOU STARTED OUT, YOU SAID THAT YOU
JUST REALLY WANTED TO BE FAMOUS, THEN
AFTER CANCER YOU SAID THAT EVERYTHING
WAS PUT INTO SHARP PERSPECTIVE, EVEN THE
WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR MUSIC...
Huh. Yeah. Because it changed my life - my out-
look on life, everything I think about it. It changed
my writing - it just had to.
AND THE RECENT CONNECTION
BETWEEN CANCER AND EATING MEAT
WOULDN’T HAVE SURPRISED YOU.
Oh gosh yes. That’s so clear to me now that
I can’t understand how anyone could think it
wasn’t. I ’m very happy to hear that it’s being
thought of now...that doctors are actually
saying that now. (Laughs) I’m very
happy about that.
IS THERE A COMMON THOUGHT YOU HAVE JUST
BEFORE YOU GET ON STAGE?
Before I go on stage there’s a routine and it’s very
comforting. The people that are backstage...so
one of the common thoughts I have before I go on
stage is that this is one of my favourite moments.
That moment before I go on...you know, the audi-
ence knows that I’m about to come out and they’re
excited. I played too many years in the bars saying,
‘ Hello, is this thing on? ’ You know? I’m always,
always looking forward to that moment.
DO YOU PLAY FAVOURITES WITH YOUR SONGS
(Laughs) Haha, do I play favourites with my songs
and lyrics? Yeah! I really believe that there’s noth-
ing wrong with having hit songs and I will play the
songs that people want to hear all day long. Ever y
night I’m playing Bring Me Some Water - you bet!
And also Like The Way I Do. Cause everybody re-
lates to it - it’s the party and I love being the party,
AND ARE THEY YOUR FAVOURITES?
No, usually the newer ones are my favourites just
because they’re the newest songs!
WHAT WAS THE FIRST SONG THAT SHOOK YOUR
Ohhhhhh. Like really got to me? Umm...probably
hearing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love.’ When
I heard that sound and when I heard the way he
sang...it kinda messed me up. I was 9, maybe 10.
WHAT MAKES HER
THE TRUE LOVE OF
MY LIFE IS THAT
SHE MADE ME SEE
THAT THE TRUE
LOVE OF MY LIFE IS
16 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
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