1988, Music

Melissa Etheridge (1988)

I know virtually nothing about the history of queer/LGBT performers and especially singer-songwriters in popular music. Depending upon how you feel about the queerness of David Bowie or Freddie Mercury, I may know absolutely nothing. So I don’t truly know how much of a landmark this record is, by a woman who was out, if not in the minds of Average Joe America, then at least to anyone who knew here and anyone with half a brain.

Etheridge has a powerful voice; she could be accused of over-singing at times, but the slight husk makes it seem more like passion. And she is singing lyrics that might have little precedent in mainstream music in the United States. Sure, lots of listeners assumed she was singing about men, and the lyrics are vague enough for you to imagine that, but they are sung with a degree of passion for a “woman with a guitar” that I still feel like you can feel the emotion of her, whether or not you ignored her haircut and the way she dressed.

There are some turns of phrase that are particularly good and affecting; and even when the lyrics are not the greatest, it’s so clear how heartfelt they are, they’re hard to ignore.

There is a bit of an ’80s sheen to this record though, which is unfortunate. (I read that an earlier version was slicker! Eek!) But her voice usually carries the day, so regardless of the slap-bass (or other ’80s cliches) you still get where she’s coming from.

Somehow, this went to #22.


All tracks written by Melissa Etheridge.

  1. “Similar Features” – 4:42
    “Chrome Plated Heart” – 3:59
  2. “Like the Way I Do” – 5:23
  3. “Precious Pain” – 4:15
  4. “Don’t You Need” – 4:59
  5. “The Late September Dogs” – 6:33
  6. “Occasionally” – 2:36
  7. “Watching You” – 5:33
  8. “Bring Me Some Water” – 3:52
  9. “I Want You” – 4:07
  • Melissa Etheridge – acoustic guitar, guitar, vocals, producer, arranger
  • Wally Badarou – keyboard
  • Craig Krampf – percussion, drums, producer, arranger
  • Kevin McCormick – bass, producer
  • Johnny Lee Schell – guitar
  • Scott Thurston – keyboard
  • Waddy Wachtel – guitar

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