Melissa Ferrick-Everything I Need in a Musician

We saw Melissa Ferrick in concert over the weekend. This double-header of shows didn't count as our first shows and hopefully not our last.

We worry now. Melissa took a couple of years off. She cut back her touring schedule. As someone who has been known to follow her for part of a leg of a tour without even doing the work of being on stage--I so can understand. Melissa's almost exactly a year younger than I am and I'll confess my energy's not where it was ten years ago. I can't imagine if my life was late nights, packing up and then "pulling into one more city" nearly every day of the year.

All of you BlogHer Conference Attendees-imagine if you had BlogHer Conference days EVERY DAY.  People you don't know. People you sort of know. People who think they know you because they read your blog. People who love you because of your words. And you have to be nice to them--because it is your job. You want another gig-whether reviewing a product, writing freelance, making it big with your words. I suspect it is like that for Melissa-except instead of a blog--it is music and her stories in concert. Add in the fact that Melissa would likely rather hide behind her guitar like we hide in our blogs--good match up. Public yet...our own space...but not.

Ok, done with "How Melissa Ferrick is like a Blogger" and will spare you the traditional geek follow ups like "What Melissa Ferrick Teaches Us about Online Community Management" and "Melissa Ferrick Lyrics: A Model for Good SEO Practices."  Or maybe never know.

Back to Melissa for real. Like I said, not Melissa Ferrick virgins. We've seen her innumerable times during the past 11 years. The first time I saw her in concert, Atlanta. We had a mommy weekend. The two of us got lured to Atlanta by a different singer-Melissa Etheridge, but we saw that we could see Melissa Ferrick the next night. I'd recently heard all sorts of good things about Melissa Ferrick--mostly on the MichFest message boards. I'd ordered Skinnier, Faster, Live from Amazon. It came right before I drove to South Carolina to get Denise for the mommy weekend. I called Denise from I-475 right before Forsyth. "If this Melissa Ferrick is as good live as she is on this live cd, I may just have to leave with her." I was smitten. Ferrick was rock and roll and folk. She's something sort of Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen. She didn't fall into that group of female singers that formed the "women singers" genre.

We saw Melissa Etheridge. I liked her--ok. I mean it is Melissa Etheridge and this was more than a decade ago. But, she wasn't really right for me. The next night we saw Melissa Ferrick. It was at that point the most electrifying concert I'd ever attended. And the words. Not only that she had a sense of humor. We immediately decided that we'd see her the next night in SC. Again. Another amazing performance. That started a bit of a spree. If Melissa Ferrick was playing somewhere in the south, we'd try to make it within reason. We saw her in Jacksonville, at a tiny show at a club called Jack Rabbits. Seriously-tiny. So, we've seen her at large shows (Atlanta, Chicago,Orlando, festivals) and smaller shows. It's one of those things where we buy the tickets and as we get ready--especially if there's a drive or new venue--I wonder why. Then she walks up to start the show and I remember.

Melissa Ferrick rocks a show. She has a song for every occasion. Soft, sad, suicidal, in recovery, fallen off the wagon, have an ex, need to have an ex, deep in love, hate your job, hate your life, ran into racism, love your job, love your life, need a good song for sex, loud, fast, slow. They are all there. Not only that, she sings them differently on different albums and in concert.

Then in concert, there's Melissa. She'll talk about her family, her struggles, her girlfriends, her successes, a funny story, a story with a moral, and then just sometimes she is just having fun. Authentic Melissa (or at least authentic in the same way our blogs are authentic.) The best is when she truly is having fun. (and if you go to enough Melissa Ferrick shows, you'll learn to tell the difference, though I have yet to be at a concert where there isn't a moment where she's having fun.)

But, no, I wouldn't ever leave Denise for Melissa. In eleven years, I've learned that Melissa and I are way too much alike in some ways. Hey, we can both "win 'em over with our smile, with our charming sense of humor." I'd never get that whole rhythm thing down. I also like an easy confrontation with someone who is always right.

I can just go to her concerts and want to take her home, feed her, give her a short course in the Tao of Tarrant. Ahem Laurie White and Erica can tell you all about that. Sassymonkey can too. I am sure a bunch of you could actually. Actually that happens a good bit and is definitely why I wouldn't take up with Melissa. I have grown up enough to know I can't rescue her and she doesn't need me to rescue her in any case. That doesn't stop me from sometimes thinking about taking her home, feeding her, and mommying her a bit. She's got her own mom for that though and I am very glad.

Then I know I really go to the concerts because she surprises, delights, amazes, and plays just the right song--even when I think she won't that night. I come home with a smile, with the thought that as much as I might think I know her in that way that you think you know someone whose shared their story, their words and you've paid attention--Melissa knows me--sometimes that wee hidden part of me that I don't have the guts to share on a stage--not even a stage like a blog.

I've rambled all over the place here and you can just think of this post as an unfinished song of sorts. I should have gone with "What Melissa Ferrick Teaches about Community." when that started pouring from my fingers instead of what I thought I was going to write which wasn't what I wrote at all.


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