Today in Music History: Melissa Etheridge released her first album 30 years ago.
I am not this old.
I remember hearing about her from my Hair Guy in SoCal. Well, my aunt’s Hair Guy. He was one of those people that visually made you stand back, shared stories that made you worry about his judgment and was probably stoned whenever and wherever you saw him.
He kinda looked like Gregg Allman.
But once you got to talking to him, he was one of those guys that ended up being insanely charismatic. Punctuating his stories with “dude” and “man” in a way that drew you in and then pulled you along for the ride.
Somehow, this generated a credibility, too. So when he told me about this singer after I complimented his choice in music, I knew I had to hear the whole album. He’d effused about the weight of her music, inadvertently bringing to mind The Band and Robbie Robertson for me. Stopping himself midcut to repeat the song Bring Me Some Water and then again during the song to feel the music.
Yeah, he was that type of guy. But it worked for him because he was so genuine with his expressions.
I picked up the disc and proceeded to annoy my roommate playing it on repeat for just about ever.
Somewhere along the line, I learned she was “from” Leavenworth, Kansas. Having spent some of my formative years in Atchison, which is just an hour-ish northward, my connection to her deepened.
What’s that faux–nomenon (Chrisism) called?
Each new release after that disc was an event for me. Seeing her in concert was an equally rewarding experience. I’ve seen her at least a half dozen times, and that seems like a low estimate.
She’s a story teller.
If you listen to her music, the lyrics will bare that out. Still, listening to her chat up the audience between songs as she casually strums her guitar is an added layer of intimacy to the feelings she evokes with her natural raspy voice.
I saw her post-cancer tour when it hit Portland and the connection to the audience was palpable. My desire to perform is nil, but in this situation I wondered what it must be like to stand alone at the front of the stage in Portland’s Schnitzer Auditorium and feel the love and gratitude rolling in from the crowd like a damn emotional tsunami.
She gave us plenty back that night.
Just like she had in every show and album. So, happy anniversary, Melissa Etheridge. Many happy residuals…er, returns!