Melissa Etheridge returns with the hits, deep cuts and guitar solos
March 31, 2022 Updated Mon., April 4, 2022 at 10:24 a.m.
Melissa Etheridge headlines Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Wednesday evening. (Elizabeth Miranda)
Melissa Etheridge has no idea what she’ll perform when she returns Wednesday to Northern Quest Resort & Casino. “I never know what I’ll play since I write a different setlist every night,” Etheridge said while calling from Grass Valley, Calif. “I do know one thing. I will not call your city Spo-kane. It took me a few years to say it correctly.”
Count on Etheridge, 60, to pronounce Spokane correctly and deliver a lengthy show since the veteran singer-songwriter is playing songs from most of her 16-album canon, including cuts from her recently released “One Way Out.” Etheridge’s latest isn’t comprised of new tunes composed during the pandemic.
“People might think that, but the reality is that the songs from ‘One Way Out’ were written during the early ‘90s,” Etheridge said. “I was going to release them as part of a boxed set when CDs were a thing, but when they were no longer happening, I didn’t know what to do. Then it hit me that I could just release them on a record. I enjoyed the process so much, I think I’m going to do it again.
“So, I have some songs from ‘One Way Out” and much more. I have a lot of ground to cover. I’ll tell the audience that I’m putting a spotlight on two albums, one from the last century and one from this century.”
However, Etheridge will deliver more than that during her two-hour set. Expect a combination of hits and deep album tracks. “I love taking the dives into my albums,” Etheridge said. “The seldom-played songs please the die-hard fans. Those songs are like new tunes for the casual fans.”
Expect familiar cuts such as “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One.” Etheridge was criticized by some in the gay community nearly 30 years ago after those songs charted for not writing gender-specific songs.
“After I came out (in 1993), I wasn’t going to just sing ‘I love her so much’ unless it fit the song,” Etheridge said. “I like writing songs that resonate with everybody. I think I do a service when I write a song that everyone can connect with – I think we all can use a little unity now.”
Etheridge is pleased with the progress the LGBTQ+ community has earned over the last generation. “We’ve come a long way,” Etheridge said. “I look at my twins, who are 15, and some of their friends have come out. We’re saving lives. I wish I was comfortable with my sexuality at their age. It would have given me a head start.”
During the 1980s, Etheridge cut her teeth in lesbian bars. “I couldn’t get gigs in regular clubs,” Etheridge recalled. “So I played gay bars and became a better guitarist and musician because of it.”
Speaking of axe work, Etheridge plans to play more guitar on this tour. “I’m showing people I can play guitar this time out,” Etheridge said. “I’m out there playing more leads. It’s awesome. I’m having so much fun on and off stage these days.”
When Etheridge isn’t touring, it’s hangout time with her wife, actress Linda Wallem, and her children, 15-year-old twins Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven and daughter Bailey Jean, who is 25. Her son Beckett passed away two years ago.
Legendary singer-songwriter David Crosby is the father of Baily Jean and Beckett. “David is a very unique individual,” Etheridge said. “David is an amazing musician. My daughter will play the guitar and sing in the living room, but that’s about it. She didn’t get David’s musical stuff, but she’s very much into political science, and that political awareness came from David.”
Next up for Etheridge is a memoir. “I’m writing a book,” Etheridge said. “I’m taking it one day at a time. I have so much to say and do. I want this book to be inspiring.”
And then there is more music. Etheridge is excited about crafting fresh material. “I have so much to write about musically,” Etheridge said. “I’m inspired by so much that is coming out now. I love the queer country music that is happening now. I love the Black country artists. Country is where the real songwriting is.
“All of that is moving me. I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin, and I can’t express how much I’m enjoying these shows. I’m at a wonderful point in my life. It’s only going to get more interesting from here. I’ve been on this amazing journey, and fortunately it’s not over yet.”
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