After 34 years and 14 studio albums, it’s fair to say Melissa Etheridge knows her way around a stage.
However, even with thousands of performances under her belt, the esteemed songwriter and activist still finds an addiction in having an audience.
“It’s the experience of exchanging that energy with the audience in the moment that makes some songs live on-and-on-and-on,” she tells Terry David Mulligan for this week’s Mulligan Stew.
“Taking those songs and going on stage — the song, the music, the experience of clicking in to people in an audience, this song means something to them — Of course with the new songs, I’m living closer to. So they definitely vibrate with a more immediate feeling.”
And the immediate feeling of those new songs from her latest release, The Medicine Show, is a sense of defiance — she says the album is a direct response to the political situation in the United States.
“Knowing that this administration, and what came into power, came through fear and divisiveness. One can see right through that,” she says.
But the music of The Medicine Show is not brewed from undirected anger or resignation. That’s not Melissa’s style. She’s always been a fighter: whether it was her tireless advocacy for same-sex rights in the early ’90s, her battle for environmental concerns a decade later, or even her own struggle with cancer in the mid-2000s.
With her music, she isn’t just looking to speak out against the toxic influences she sees. She also wants to think about what comes next.
“I think that’s very last century — coming power, having people believe that their problems are all someone else’s fault. You can lead a good amount of people that way. But it’s all going to come crumbling down because that’s not what moves us forward these days.”