Melissa Etheridge continues to shine

Melissa Etheridge smiling at the camera
Melissa Etheridge photo by Elizabeth Miranda

A music industry icon that still discusses all

Melissa Etheridge holding her clasped hands to her mouth, smiling with her eyes closed
Melissa Etheridge photo by Elizabeth Miranda

From topping the charts, battling breast cancer, numerous marriages and divorces, experiencing the loss of her son, earning fifteen Grammy® nominations and two wins, Melissa Etheridge has been through it all. A music industry icon, Melissa sat down with me to discuss everything from never sticking with the same set list, her venture into cannabis and CBD, her foundation to fight opioid addiction, and her new comic book!

Melissa, how are you? It’s a pleasure to speak with you again.

Melissa Etheridge: I am very, very good! Everything is great and I am happy to be back.

What have you been up to over the past year?

ME: We have been out on tour and were successfully able to complete a couple tour runs. I have also been home taking care of the family.

What can fans expect this year on the One Way Out tour?

ME: New York and New Jersey are some of my favorite places to play because you guys love your rock and roll. That is so evident even after all these years. With every show you attend, it is going to be different. I do a different set list with every show because I tailor it to the place, the people, the day of the week, and so forth. If you are a big fan, come to multiple [shows], because I will be doing something different with every show.

You can tell you are in the business for the love of it. I have worked in Top 40 radio for a decade, and it is extremely rare for an artist to change their set list, much less change it every single night. Props! Do you do this for the fans?

ME: I do it for me! I would absolutely lose my mind if I did the same show every night (laughs). I came from playing in bars and doing cover songs. I have been performing since I was twelve. I do not fit what I try to do with every audience. I really have done this long enough to know my audience, understand what New Jersey audiences are like, Chicago audiences are like, Germany audiences are like, et cetera. I know what did well in different parts of the world. I try to take after Bruce Springsteen, who does a different show every night.

Let’s talk about One Way Out. This is a unique album in that it consists solely of unreleased material. What is the backstory?  

ME: The One Way Out album came about when I was considering releasing a retrospective box set. I found these older songs and it made me wish I had recorded them. I got together with the original musicians and engineer I worked with in 1988, and these new recordings sound like new versions of older songs. It has the feel I had in my late twenties and early thirties. I integrate a couple of them in the show.

Melissa Etheridge playing a guitar with a dark red curtain in the background
Melissa Etheridge photo by Elizabeth Miranda

You have been touring for a couple of years now. Throughout touring have you started work on your next studio album?

ME: I am in the writing phase right now. I think at the end of this year I will sit down to create another album. This is the longest I’ve gone without making another album. Everything is different now; I can release one song or ten. I just have to figure out what I am going to do.

It is interesting how the music industry has evolved from vinyls, to cassettes, to CDs. However, now vinyls are making a comeback. What are your thoughts in how the industry has evolved and do you see CDs making a comeback in the same manner vinyls have?

ME: Wow…I think the industry has grown in a way it naturally would. I think music is such an important part of everyone’s life, particularly choosing music that feeds the soul, mind, and body. Of course, our society would come up with a way to have thousands of songs at your fingertips versus buying record by record.

Once we got CDs the digital age began. Truly, the CD is a much lower quality of fidelity in music. I do not see CDs making any sort of comeback because the digital technology is best in a downloaded form. The music industry did not even think CDs would take off because they sounded so bad. However, everyone loved the convenience factor. With vinyls, it is because there is that sound, that tape, that warmth, and that realness in it.

Let’s discuss Etheridge Botanicals and Etheridge Organics. What inspired you to get into the cannabis and CBD business? Was it your personal love or did you realize it would become a booming business?

ME: Both! It was personal due to the fact I went through breast cancer 18 years ago, and cannabis helped me. I felt everyone should have the choice to choose that type of medicine. I became an activist and wanted to put my own brand out. It is very difficult to put a brand out (laughs). We got into the CBD market because the people I work with make such incredible medicine and it is so pure, we know exactly where it comes from a la the growers in Santa Cruz. And it is really some of the best CBD medicine you can get. We are proud of Etheridge Organics. Our cannabis line, Etheridge Botanicals, are exclusively available at California dispensaries. Our CBD line, Etheridge Organics, can be purchased online.

I would like to discuss the Etheridge Foundation, whose mission is to find alternative solutions to opioid addiction outside of pharmaceutical norms. I understand it was inspired by the loss of your son Beckett. How are things going with the foundation and its mission?

ME: I love the work the foundation is doing. I am so excited and so proud of it. We have given our first grants out. We have given a grant to researchers in Spain who are researching iboga and using ibogaine to take patients off methadone. They got off heroin but now are addicted to methadone. It is working so well; these people don’t need their methadone and have even quit smoking and drinking. It’s really changed their lives.

Melissa Etheridge hugging a mahogany colored guitar
Melissa Etheridge photo by Elizabeth Miranda

Are there any projects approaching or that you are working on which you want fans to know about?

ME: There is a graphic novel, sort of like a comic book which is loosely based on my life, called Heartstrings which just came out in June. I cherish it. I also have another autobiography I am in the process of working on.

What are some topics that are going to be discussed in the upcoming autobiography?

ME: The last book I wrote encompassed the first 20 years of my life, and so much more has happened since. I have also grown and have different thoughts and feelings about things. It is probably not going to be released until either 2023 or 2024. | |