I stopped by the library this weekend to pick up a few movies and I also picked up a few CD’s. One that I picked up is one that I had in high school and has always been a favorite of mine is Yes, I Am by Melissa Etheridge.
The interesting thing about any art form is that it can hit you different at different times in your life. This particular album really struck a chord with me (no pun intended) because of it’s passionate (some might say erotic) lyrics and it’s gruff blues sound. These are strengths of Etheridge as she seems to bleed all over her music, especially in this album. Strictly, from an artistic standpoint, this is an incredible album.
Most everyone knows about Melissa Etheridge and the mystique that surrounds this album. Supposedly, Yes, I Am is the answer to everyone’s speculation that she was a lesbian. And sure enough, right around the time of this album, she did confirm that she is indeed, a lesbian. Seen in this light, these passionate lyrics take on a different understanding as you really feel her personal struggle with this issue. The opening song, “I’m The Only One” can be seen as her struggle with her jealousy toward another woman. Her ode to being out of control, “If I Wanted To” seems to show a struggle with her feelings for another person and how she would change them, if she only wanted to. This song assumes that one’s sexuality is out of their control. “Come To My Window” suggests, like many songs, that she cannot live without her love. “Silent Legacy” none too subtely suggests that silence is not the best way to deal with this issue of sexuality. “I Will Never Be The Same” suggests that she will never be the same after this…whatever this is. “All American Girl,” one of the better tracks on this album because it seems like it’s the only one not pushing an agenda, still contains the lyrics, “How could she keep the baby; she could barely keep her head.”
I could review every one of these songs and find some sort of agenda with them. When I first heard this album in 1993 as a senior in high school, none of this jumped out at me then as much as it does now. And it’s not just the blatant sexual references or the gay theme to this album. The humanist worldview of Etheridge shines forth in this as she promotes finding your happiness in your partner or something other than God. As a believer, I understand how dangerous this thinking is and it is made even more dangerous by its subtlety.
Here my advice: Appreciate this ground-breaking album for its catchy blues rock sound and passionate and well-written lyrics, but be aware of its agenda and recognize when works of art start preaching to you and what exactly they are preaching.