Friday, September 7, 2012

Melissa Etheridge - "Similar Features"

Similar Features - Melissa Etheridge

(Debuted April 8, 1989, Peaked #94, 4 Weeks on the Chart)

A friend of mine in college clued me in to something about Melissa Etheridge's music that I never paid attention to before: she never addressed her lover by a name in her songs. While I was recounting the lyrics of the songs I knew in the back of my head, my mind focused on the lyric "Go on and close your eyes, go on, imagine me there...she's got similar features with longer hair..." My friend told me, when she's singing about the other woman but doesn't specifically say the other person is means she's a lesbian."

A couple years later, I really wasn't surprised to hear that Etheridge came out of the closet. It has nothing at all to do with the songs she sings (other than giving a frame of reference), but ever since then I've heard other songs where the "other person" was mentioned but not the lover and wondered if the singer or writer was gay.

That said, "Similar Features" works on a level for those of us who are straight as well. She's singing as a woman who realizes that her lover might be imagining another as they're getting intimate. The knowledge that her lover is still hung up on an old lover stings her. However, she realizes that the lover is where he is and lets the fantasy go on. That shouldn't be a straight or gay feeling, that's real life. It's also one of the more memorable debut albums of the era, and a shame to fall off the chart after only peaking at #94.

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