Melissa Etheridge is eating a scrambled egg sandwich as we talk and politely says, Hold on, honey, I have to chew. Its cute to hear this tough rocker chick be so formal. Her voice is sweet, but it does have her trademark edge. Still, its nothing compared to the aggressiveness she uses to drive home her lyrics on her tenth album, Fearless Love.
And love is what has put Etheridge back in the headlines recently. A few weeks ago she announced she and her partner of nearly nine years, Tammy Lynn Michaels, have separated. When Out
talked with Etheridge last month about her album, she told us she was still searching for happiness and has finally realized she can only find it in herself. This revealing answer prompted us to ask if the rumors that her relationship was in troubled were true. She responded, Well, I will have to answer right now that I cant comment on that. Yeah. Im sorry.
reached out to Etheridges publicist for a follow-up comment, and we were given the statement Etheridge continues to give to all media, We ask for consideration and respect for our family as we go through this difficult period.
But in this turbulent time, its an opportunity for Etheridge, Oscar and two-time Grammy winner, to pick up the pieces and live by the lyrics in Fearless Love
that declare "I need a fearless love, I wont settle for anything less." Although she remained quiet on her love life, she wasnt hesitant to tell us how she feels about Sarah Palin, Adam Lambert, and fame.
Out: The last time we talked you said, Im falling back in love with rock 'n' roll," adding, "People are aching for rock 'n' roll again. We got poppy. We got sugar with Britney and the boy bands, now were ready to rock. How and why did you fall back in love with rock again?
Melissa Etheridge: Because rock 'n' roll is a spirit. Its a spirit that can be in any kind of music and you know when you see it, and you know when you feel it. Its the spirit of rebellion and nonconformity. I just feel that were all about to wake up and go, What are we doing playing that game? I think music inspires that in people.
But did you ever really leave rock 'n' roll?
Maybe Im feeling it more fully. Maybe Im embodying it and doing it fearlessly.
Is there another album in your career that you can compare this one to?
I wonder. Its so big. It would be more like Yes I Am
or the first album.
What is fearless love?
Its a place inside yourself where you understand that any other choice you have at any time in your love other than love only brings you down and takes you back. Im going to love myself enough that every choice I make is going to come from that, which can be full of fear in our society because there is that conformity thing again. Its such a huge thing where you have to be like this. You have to be like that. You have to sound like this or youre not cool.
"I am what I am afraid of is a line in Fearless Love. What are you afraid of?
If I had chosen [to say], Im just not going to talk about my sexuality because I was afraid to speak my truth, then I become a person who is afraid. What you resist persists. You see it all the time.
Who are you saying those words to?
To myself. Oh yeah. My songs are big conversations with myself.
During the last presidential election campaigns, you were an avid supporter of Dennis Kucinich. How do you rate President Obama's performance so far?
The political field has been a real adventure for me. I believed wholeheartedly in 1992 that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican was huge. It was like it was us and it was them. And we are fighting them and we are the good guys and they are the bad guys. When I grew into more of a spiritual being, I started seeing that it is a silly fight that were having with each other because the truth is neither the Democrats or Republicans are in charge. There is a force so much more powerful that dont care who is president. They are still calling the shots and running the show.
Who is that?
The multinational corporations. That what Dennis Kucinich was outside of, and thats why I was giving my support to him. I was like, Look at this guy. He doesnt have a dollar from these people who own our government. If we keep fighting a fight that its us against them, then well never get anywhere.
Do you think dont ask, dont tell is taking too long to overturn?
Of course. Good God! Its such a funny world how we choose to govern ourselves. That fact that dont ask, dont tell is a law is ridiculous! What are we telling our children -- "if you just dont tell you wont get in trouble?" Its all fear. We need to grow up.
Recently Sarah Palin and you shared the same opinion on the government task forces new recommendations about women not getting mammograms until age 50. She called it a dangerous recommendation.
Yeah! I didnt know she did that.
Besides sharing the belief that the task force is wrong, what do you think of Sarah Palin?
Sarah Palin, Im sure, is a fine human being. We as a society tell ourselves stories, and I know I believed the rock star story. I believed that you could sell your soul on stage, move people, make albums, and get rich and famous and then you have no troubles. I believed that story. I got to the top of that and saw that there was nothing there. It was all a lie and a joke. There is no place that you can get to. I see women in politics who believe if they play this game -- if they make this choice and that choice and play by the rules -- they will get somewhere. I see it in politicians eyes all the times. I see it in the eyes of my peers who have been in this business who are super famous, but what does it mean? So, I think Sarah Palin is riding a huge wave, a tidal wave, and shes on the top of it. Its fun for a while, but then it gets a little scary, and I dont know if shes gotten to the scary part yet.
But you've realized there is a deeper meaning than just having fame. What is that deeper meaning?
I could get the whole world to say, Yes, you are a good person, and I still wouldnt believe it if I didnt believe it myself. Look, every night I get up and have thousands of people applaud, and Im still not happy. Thats what the song To Be Loved is about. Im still waiting to be loved. Its ridiculous to think that anyone who is on top, like Madonna, would have self-esteem issues, but of course, we all do. We struggle with that every day.
Lets talk Adam Lambert. Are you still a fan of his?
I love watching his career. Its like someone else jumped into the game, and Im like, Yes! American Idol.
Ah, that was just a start. Hes in a much bigger contest now.
What did you think of his performance on the American Music Awards?
Its funny because I was there and right before someone asked me what would I say to him. I told them I would say, For every choice, just make it from your heart and dont listen to anybody else because theyre going to love you one day and theyre gonna hate you the next. I saw him go out and do this way over-the-top thing, which I understand because you are carrying the weight of our fears and frustrations on your shoulders. Then youre supposed to represent a group of people that its impossible to represent because were completely different. The only thing we have in common are our gender preferences in bed. It was like the kid in class who stands up and screams. Its like, OK, you have our attention now.
What kind of music do your children listen to?
Its really eclectic. My daughter has more of a pop taste, but shell listen to old musicals and stuff. My son is just rock 'n' roll and has no patience for anything thats not authentic. Hell listen to Jimmy Hendrix and the Foo Fighters and Green Day.
Do you ever walk into their rooms and say, Turn that music down?
No, but they walk into my room and say, Mom, turn it down! So, whats wrong with that picture?
Are you planning on touring with this album?
Oh yes. Ill do North America until the beginning of September. Then Id like to go to Europe in the fall and then Australia the first part of next year. Ive got to get there. I love it there.
How important is it for you now to have a hit song or album?
Not as important as it is to have a good song or a great song and album. Thats what I live with forever.
For your male fans, cant you tell us if there is a man out there you just find hot?
Its funny because my idea of hot now has changed. I mean, I enjoy a good romp in bed, but I also enjoy stimulating conversation. Its a big part of it now. A good sense of humor too.
But there are no men that do it for you?
I dont have any juice for sexy guys.
Last year you were on The View and had a debate with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. You told her that the two of you had to do lunch. Well, have you done lunch?
I havent, but every time I go I think, I really have to arrange that lunch. Its going to be awkward if we dont. Im going to do The View
again, so I think we have to do lunch before I go on!
Fearless Love is available April 27. To learn more about Etheridge, visit MelissaEtheridge.com.Send a letter to the editor about this article.