Written By: Mandi Lauren Nowitz
1993 was Melissa Etheridge’s breakout year, in my opinion. When she titled her fourth album “Yes I Am,” she was making a statement, whether it was conscious or not as it was the same year that she answered the question fans had been asking since she came out (no pun intended) in the late ’80’s: was she a lesbian? Her choice of album titles pretty much makes it clear and the woman with the Janis Joplin/Joan Jett voice and fierce attitude was now an icon for the gay community. Etheridge’s hit single “Come To My Window,” off of YIA, was about her secret relationship with Julie Cypher, married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips. The power of her vocals and the longing in her lyrics garnered her a much-deserved Grammy Award.
Her personal life was often questionable as she had two children with Cypher thanks to the help of David Crosby. That particular choice raised many eyebrows and questions and let’s be honest: Etheridge is friends with Brad Pitt so Crosby? At least the two kids will be musical, fingers crossed. When Cypher decided she was questioning her sexuality, the couple parted in the early 2000s and Etheridge went on to marry actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, who also gave her two children. They had a rocky ending but during happier times together, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer and came back with a tribute to Janis Joplin that blew the roof off of the Grammys! Michaels was a constant during the recovery process so some of the things that went down post-relationship made Etheridge look quite bad and selfish but Melissa is married with her 4 kids.
All of this aside, Etheridge has been a key fighter for equal rights, including Prop 8 where she declined to pay taxes after it was overturned and was recognized by GLAAD in 2006. But what really defines Melissa is not her sexuality or scandals but rather her phenomenal music. An amazing guitar player and lyricist, she filled the void that was missing in ladies rock and when I put on her music, I do what it is intended for: getting lost and finding its special place in my heart. Here are my personal top five Melissa Etheridge songs and I hope that you will understand why! And if you watch the videos, you will notice that Brad Pitt’s exes are in several videos, just saying.
5) Breathe: “I played the fool today. And I just dream of vanishing into the crowd. Longing for home again. But home is a feeling I buried in you…I’m all right, I’m all right. It only hurts when I breathe.” Yeah, that’s pretty much my life at times. What about you?
4) I Want To Be In Love (with a cameo by Tammy Lynn Michaels and Jennifer Aniston): “In front of total strangers won’t you kiss me. Flowers for no reason but you miss me. Oh I want to be in love. You’re standing on the doorstep in the rain. Cause you couldn’t wait to see me once again.” We hear ya, Melissa. We all want to be in love and get random flowers. Preach!
3) I Want To Come Over: “I know your friend. You told her about me. She filled you with fear. Some kind of sin. How can you turn. Denying the fire. Lover I burn. Let me in.” I feel like this is a song that would be perfect for anyone struggling in high school, personally or with friends. So many times, people will say things that are so untrue about you based off of jealousy or lies and that can burn inside. But then she hits you with the chorus: “I want to come over. To hell with the consequence. You told me you loved me. That’s all I believe.” That’s some Romeo and Juliet or Romeo and Romeo or Juliet and Juliet feels right there and you just want to scream it in your car or in the shower!
2) I’m the Only One: “But I’m the only one who’ll walk across the fire for you.” How many times have we felt that, maybe in just daily life?
1) Come To My Window: I’m so cliche with this one but I just love Come To My Window. I love the rasp, I love the grit, I love that it is applicable to anyone. This is the one song where I actually think I am Melissa even though I so am not! “I would dial the numbers. Just to listen to your breath. I would stand inside my hell. And hold the hand of death. You don’t know how far I’d go. To ease this precious ache. You don’t know how much I’d give. Or how much I can take.” And some trivia: Juliette Lewis, also a Pitt ex, was in the video and according to Pop-Up Video, she was so good at playing the part in the video that they had to stop a few times to make sure she was not breaking down.
So there you have some Melissa Etheridge love. A music icon, cancer survivor, advocate, and all things great, with a few exceptions. But her music…no exceptions!