Redbeard:” Tell me about the events leading up to your 2007 cancer recovery album, the cathartic The Awakening .”
Melissa Etheridge:” It’s been such a crazy journey. When I started putting records out, my first couple were very innocent,they were. They were the music that I loved, the music that was coming out of me, that I was playing. And then somewhere along the line, the music business kind of…it started becoming ,’OK, let’s make something that the people want, or that they’ve already wanted, so let’s make something just like that’. And I started kind of fumbling around in my career. I mean , I was still writing from my heart and stuff, but every time I went in (the studio), my intention behind it was … I think there was a lot of fear involved. My own personal journey was getting more courageous and more centered. And then I made the albumLucky which was a lot of fun, but I still felt that I had to make a certain sound to get on the radio, which is an awful thing to be on your back. I felt like I had been to the mountain top and seen it, thank you very much. And then I kind of just shrugged my shoulders and looked up to the universe and said, ‘What now ?’ I really thought that there was something more that I was going to do. I felt like I had stopped dreaming.”
“And literally, I’m not kidding you, I remember it was Ottawa Canada and I was talking to Kenny my drummer and “Chainsaw”, and I said, ‘You know, I just kind of feel like I don’t know what’s going to happen next ‘. And that night I felt the lump in my breast for breast cancer. And it just changed. I was diagnosed, and all of a sudden my whole world was completely blown apart. Just BOOM. Completely exploded and imploded. ”
“And I got to lie still, and I stopped being a rock star. I stopped working, I stopped striving, I stopped everything. And I was completely still. And being still is the best thing you can do for yourself. I mean it. We just don’t do enough of it in our lives, and it is so important. And I just laid still, and I finally got to the point where my brain stopped chattering. It stopped waking up and wandering, and I started dreaming again. I started dreaming of what I wanted the rest of my life to look like .”
RB: “With the diagnosis of breast cancer, you still could make plans for the future even before you completed chemotherapy and radiation ?”
ME:” Oh my gosh, I want the rest of my life ! No no no, I’m not done at all, I’m just beginning. And with that new excitement, I started looking at what I had created, what I’m creating now, and what I wanted to create. I started reading like crazy, I started reading everything from cosmology to quantum physics, string theory, agnostic gospels, Buddhism, everything ! And everybody is saying the same thing, this simple thing : that we’re all here to create, to be happy, and to love. You know, give me the peace signs and all the gooey stuff, but that’s really what I started feeling. And when I started thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to write a new album ‘, I had this joy behind it. I had this great desire to put my experience down and to ignite people and light ’em up and sa , ‘Look, you can do this too. We don’t have to do it this way ‘. ”
RB: What attitudes and behaviors should we all look at ?
ME: Today, right now, we have a choice. We have marketed ourselves into a little bitty corner of sound bites and fast food, and we think we can sustain ourselves on this. We think we can go to McDonald’s every day, eat in our car, and be fine. We can just download that one little song that sounds just like that other son . They’re little pieces. If you want to live your life on just little pieces of life, okay, that’s your choice. But I think that there’s a large bunch of us who really want more, who really do believe that the best food comes from the earth; that it grows up out of the dirt; and then you eat it and it nourishes you. And that music is made channeled through an artist. They craft it, they put it down in a certain place, and you can enjoy it for three minutes, or an hour , or you can even go to a live concert and enjoy it for three hours. Imagine giving yourself that time! But I think our society needs to take a breath and step back, and get off this wheel that we’re on of faster, faster, faster. I do.”