Monday, May 08, 2023

This Year: 1988

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

This is another "us" song, another one my wife loves too, another one that has meant something to the two of us for three decades now. We saw the performer live a few times, way back then, and at one memorable concert at the Beacon we were really close to the stage, on the left, and joked for years afterward that the performer was checking one of us out in the audience, but which one was it?

It was her. I think we knew that, even then.

The song is Like the Way I Do, by Melissa Etheridge. I've hit a couple of songs of obsessive love before, but this one tops them all. Even the studio version does, but I prefer an early barn-burner of a live rendition, available on a couple of Etheridge's early singles and then the deluxe edition of her first record. It's still the best single song I've ever heard from her, but it's also one of the best songs by anyone anywhere, and possibly the best ten-minute song ever.

It is not a song you would expect a couple to both like; it's a song about a bad breakup. (Pretty much all of Etheridge's first record is; it's one of the great break-up records.)

But, bluntly, this is a deeply sensual song, one that asks the musical question "Baby, your new lover isn't crazy enough to be as good a fuck as I was, is she?!" And who doesn't secretly, somewhere deep in their hearts, believe that they are the Best at Sex, at least with the One Perfect Person, the one they know better than anyone else, certainly better than that new...well, you get what I mean.

But, most of all, this is a sexy song, a song that you can scream along with in the car, a song that has more energy than some people's entire careers, a song that makes you feel alive and vital for the space of it's time. And it's got a rhythm that can't be beat: songs that start with a particular rhythm that you know instantly are always great, and this one does that from the jump. 

Because we've all had that moment where we want to say "Nobody aches, nobody aches just to hold you, like the way I do." And Melissa Etheridge makes that moment real and vital and loud.

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