An Interview with Melissa Etheridge

AE: A reader wanted to know if you think there’s any validity to the notion that artists do their best work when they’re unhappy.
No. I think they do their best unhappy work when they’re unhappy. They sing the angst well when they’re angsting. I think the hardest job is to mirror and reflect what is inside of them to the universe and we’re mirrors of society. I think you just do your job. I think your goal is to be happy. To think you have to be unhappy to be a successful artist, that’s just suicide.

AE: I could imagine that would be very depressing. I feel like so many interviews we read with celebrities or musicians is when they’re at their worst or something bad has happened to them. It seems in all your press lately you are very happy, and that’s great to see. One of my favorite songs on the album is "Nervous," and I think everybody’s had those feelings that you’re singing about. I’m wondering if it’s easier to write a song or sing a song like that now that you’re a single woman.
Sure! It’s a little more fun, yeah! People project all kinds of things onto a song and onto what I’m performing and singing. And my songs are fair game for anyone. And for me, too! I can project whatever I want to when I’m up there singing.

AE: Are you ever worried about Tammy Lynn’s blog and what she might write about you on it?
Oh no, no worry. Tammy is a wonderful, creative person. That blog is her soul and her spirit and I would never want her to censor herself. When I’m out here and everyone’s asking me the questions and writing down all the answers, she’s got to have somewhere to put hers.

AE: And I’m sure she’d never ask you to censor your songwriting in return.
Yeah, no! Not at all.

AE: So we’ve heard you’ll be doing a collaboration with Nurse Jackie creator Linda Wallem. Is that true?
She’s like my best friend, so. We’ve always talked about doing a musical in our spare time. Someday when we can, we’ll do it. Now she has a hit show and I’m going on tour. [Laughs] She’s just a dear. Linda Wallem is just one of the greatest human beings on the earth and I’m blessed to be such close friends with her. I’d love to collaborate with her. She’s a genius.

AE: Would it be original music or songs you’ve already written?
It would be original music, yeah. I’m going to write it. We’re just old gay Broadway show geeks.

AE: Will you please put at least one lesbian in it?
Are you kidding? Yeah!

AE: Just making sure!
Yes, yes!

AE: Is there anything you never really feel like you get a chance to talk about in interviews?
No, good lord — I talk about too much!

AE: Do you ever feel like there are misconceptions about you?
Oh yeah! Because people — they’re not going to know me, that don’t know me. They’re going to project whatever’s going on inside of them and whatever they assume. There’s always assumptions. I can’t go around and tell every million people "Oh, it’s not this way — it’s this way." I had to let that go a long time ago. I have to live my life and the people in my life know what I’m doing, and you’ve just got to walk it.

AE: Now that the album is out and you’re doing interviews and appearances and gearing up for the tour, what’s your favorite part of the process? Is it the day it’s released or seeing how it’s doing — what’s the best part for you?
The best part is when I step on stage and the people are singing those new songs, the ones that I was just having my own little thing with. And they’re just there. The singing them, that’s the best part. Because when I write them, I think "Oh I can’t wait to sing this on stage, and people will do this hopefully!" And then when it happens, it’s a reward.

Fearless Love is out now.

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