Melissa Etheridge's 'The Awakening': Let the Fascination Come on and Rain all Over Me
Rock singer, song writer, and multi-faceted activist Melissa Etheridge has never been short on passion. Every song she sings comes from a spirit sure of what it loves, how, and why. The same holds true with The Awakening (2007), her first release since her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004. Now, though, this passion is the love at the heart of all compassion as words and music dissolve into peace. There are no hard surfaces or sharp edges here.
The theme of her album--and of her life and career--comes down to choice. You make your life as you live it. Consider this rhetorical question from "An Open Mind":
If my choice is despair or wonder
On the line between truth and belief
Do I just let the tide take me under
Or do I let the fascination come on and rain all over me...
In her jacket notes, Etheridge says after her 10 weeks enduring the "rather barbaric practice" of chemotheraphy, she "walked away enlightened. I no longer fear death, nor so many of the aspects I used to fear about life....I came to my own understanding of God, what God is, and where God is."
Her lyrics are a blend of the lessons of Buddha and Jesus processed in the mind of an American. "The Awakening: What Happens Tomorrow" reveals this:
What happens tomorrow...All is love...All is choice
Everyone and every voice
All of life that you see
All are possibilities
As above so below
To wed the senses into the soul
This is truth I believe I believe I believe...
Truth is of the people by the people for the people."
So says a soul who has outrun fear.
I have thought of my grandmothers as I have listened to these songs. Both were ravaged first by cancer--breast, lung, bone, thyroid...---and second by a medical industry that hacked at their lives on the off chance it might prolong life. I sometimes think the anxiety and the fear of waiting to see if the doctors passed the God test did more to reduce the quality of life than did the cancer. They focused our attention on death and then they presumed to ameliorate that fear with their knives. They failed utterly. It seems we held our breath during that long wake between diagnosis and death.
Hearing these songs of The Awakening, though, I'm inclined to think of my grandmothers as foremothers of cancer survivors. As guinea pigs decades ago, they were part of a huge process that led to advancements in the quality of cancer treatment so women like Melissa Etheridge can sing to their kids and to you and to me.
My daughter was born 17 years to the day my beloved grandmother left this world. I recall her passing as I celebrate my daughter's birth and know better than I know anything that love never dies. It only changes form.
Sample The Awakening here.
Check out the American Cancer Society here.