Your Love Does not Burn Like Mine

Listening to Melissa Etheridge offer up a mighty blast of "Burning Love" from YouTube the other day, I remarked to my daughter, "That's one of Elvis's songs, honey." Elvis, like the Yankees and other forms of good sense, is in her blood; I thought I was linking the King with a woman whom I think is queen of American rock today.

"If Melissa Etheridge is singing it, then it's her song," Adella replied.

Wow, I thought. That's big.

Why is that big? I wondered.

I told my husband about this big thing the kid said. "Why is that big?" he asked.

Why is that big? I wondered.

Because it's big. Because a bunch of words and musical notes is not a work of art without a voice, and a voice belongs to a soul. Each singer turns a song into unique art. It's big. It's also what jazz is all about--taking what you can do with every kind of music, bringing it to your street corner, and making it new, more, and maybe better. It's about the life of art.

Melissa Etheridge is not Elvis Presley. They are distinct. They sing from their distinct souls. The song is a new work of art with each voice. She is frankly sexual and gritty; he is sexy and shy. It's possible; that's what made (makes?) women swoon.

The little conversation with my little guru brought to mind another old favorite of mine, the ballad "Me and Bobby McGee." When Janis Joplin sings it, it's a song about a passionate person with a heart that still aches and reaches for love; when Gordon Lightfoot sings it, it's a reminiscence about bittersweet sorrow that once visited his heart for a time. The passion has cooled.

It's not about ownership--works of art are gifts, and gifts are not kept but released to our beloveds with fear and misgiving and hope--but about being known for who we are. That's big.


  1. Anonymous10:16 PM

    Once you get away from a song being tied to one person as that person's song, you can delve into the art form. If you're not oo literal and rules-are-rules person.

    More creative and artistic folk like you would see it just the way you and your daughter did.

    And that's a good way to see it.


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.