The Stories of Her Life, Sung From the Heart
Melissa Etheridge was in a chatty mood on Wednesday night at DAR Constitution Hall, noting that "My job . . . is to tell you my story." And tell stories she did: The concert was structured as a chronological history of her life, from her move out of Kansas ("California") to her early relationships, which were both passionate ("Don't You Need") and tumultuous ("Bring Me Some Water"), to a more stable, mature love ("Mercy"), to her recent battle with breast cancer ("I Run for Life").
Even though she didn't mention her cancer until midway through the 2 1/2 -hour show, her survivor's spirit shone through all night: She found the silver lining in every anecdote, and every unhealthy relationship was described as a good learning experience. Close to the end of the night, she captured her revived outlook on life: "We don't start living/until we almost die" ("The Universe Listened").
Her songs are memorable not because of any especially catchy hooks but because she takes common experiences and breaks them down to their most basic emotions. The overwhelmingly female crowd's loud singalongs echoed back her passion on such hits as "I Want to Come Over" and "Come to My Window."
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 28 June 2008; Page C02