Melissa Etheridge reflects on maturity
BY MARK KENNEDY November 7, 2012 6:18PM
♦ 8 p.m. Saturday
♦ Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State
♦ Tickets, $38-$103
♦ (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:23PM
NEW YORK — At 51, Melissa Etheridge isn’t coasting on her accomplishments.
On her latest studio album, her 12th, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter challenged herself to play all the guitar parts for the first time ever.
“I kind of thought when I was 30, you’re as good as your going to get. That’s not true,” she says. “I have gotten so much better and I’m celebrating it on this album.”
The album, “4th Street Feeling,” has a dozen songs that mostly look backward — to her parents, childhood and breakups. It’s named after a street in Etheridge’s Kansas hometown.
“I’m exploring being 51, the maturity, the wisdom that just comes from having gone around the sun 50 times,” she says. “My experience is, ‘Oh, I’m never really going to get it right. I’m never going to get it done.’ But that’s not the point here. The point is the journey.”
Etheridge, best known for her songs “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One,” has also included a few references to her ex-life partner Tammy Lynn Michaels, with whom she’s endured a messy split.
“Say goodbye to the enemy,” Etheridge sings in “A Disaster.” “Sympathy” begins with the line, “There’s a liar in your bed.”
“I am a songwriter. I do get to put my personal experiences in song,” Etheridge says. “Is that my ultimate revenge? I don’t know. I’m not going to tell more than that because that’s my prerogative as a songwriter, and that’s what we do.”
Etheridge has since found someone else — she’s dating “Nurse Jackie” co-creator Linda Wallem. So the album ends on a positive note: “I think I’m ready to try my hand at love again,” she sings on “Rock and Roll Me,” the last song.
“The subjects, the themes really range from darkness — from a bit of heartbreak and darkness and solitude — to opening up and finding new love and opening up about myself,” she says.
Etheridge and Wallem are even working on a musical centered on New York piano bars. She’s been smitten by Broadway all her life and even stepped into the Green Day musical “American Idiot” for eight shows in early 2011.
“I have always loved Broadway,” she says, laughing. “I am gay.”