Elevate Difference

Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled

I’ve always been a sporadic fan of Melissa Etheridge’s work; perhaps it’s because, to me, her lyrics often feel oddly a little sophmoric and platitudinously P.C.—even when her sound is rocking tough, true and primal. Her guitar sounds dangerous, but her words don’t. The disconnect in poetic feeling between her amazing guitar work and lackluster words is one of the reasons she’s not, up to now, been included on my ipod. However, I have just downloaded Etheridge’s version of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.”

A year or two ago, I saw her perform the song with Joss Stone at the Grammy’s and was transfixed. Etheridge’s performance was appropriately wild and snarly and shocked and bitter and betrayed and hopeful and all those emotions that escape and explode up through the cracks of a shattered heart. And the fact that she came out on stage bald— clearly in the midst of chemo treatment—ramped up the drama considerably in the endlessly fascinating drama of the human heart and what it can withstand and seek to rise above. Joplin probably would have toasted Ethridge with a little Southern Comfort after that tour de force reprisal. It’s too bad this studio version didn’t include Stone, but the song still zaps your soul with a major electrical charge.

For Melissa Etheridge fans, the Greatest Hits CD will not disappoint. It covers her seventeen-year career with an equal number of songs. You’ll find “Come to My Window,” “I Want To Come Over” and “Bring Me Some Water.” Newer songs are “I Run For Life,” an inspirational anthem for those dealing with breast cancer themselves or supporting a loved one through the struggle. Another great song that I also downloaded was “I Need To Wake Up,” the cautionary song accompanying the credit roll in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” I also liked her do-over of Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” It’s as tough to take on Tom as it is Janis and she rocked it.

Written by: Cheryl Reeves, June 12th 2007