Watching the video of Melissa Etheridge’s 2005 Grammy tribute to Janis Joplin always starts me shimmering. She performs Piece of My Heart mere days after her last chemo treatment for breast cancer. Melissa is bald. Too tired to move around, as she usually does, she stands radiant and defiant. (Watch the video or Listen to the song)
In her words: “If I said no I would have hated sitting at home and watching someone else sing it. So I had to do it, bald or not, or just off chemotherapy, I didn’t care, I had to perform that song.”
I think I know why.
I want to show you a woman can be tough.
So come on come on take another little piece of my heart
It felt that she was singing about something much more expansive than Janis was.
Hers is a love song for everyone and everything she holds dear. For every which way she, her family and mother earth’s heart is being picked to pieces.
For scars, losses and violations. And for doing something about it.
If you listen closely you can hear her slip in the phrase How dare you. I don’t think I’m imagining this. There it is… I’m sure of it.
How dare you take another piece of my heart.
Did you hear it too?
If you know the song you know there’s a primal cry of defiance as the song concludes. (Here it is) Forlorn. Soulful. Defiant. Liberating
A howl of outrage hurled at all our hurts, injuries and insults. A release of fierce love. A warrior’s cry. Enough.
“The secret in our culture is not that birth is painful…It’s that women are strong,” wrote writer and mother Laura Stavoe.
Strong enough to understand that creation emerges on the other side of pain, and desecration.
We are made from such epiphanies.
Women’s strength. Women’s knowing. Women’s outrage. Women’s leadership.
More please. It’s time.
I promise to listen closely.
Play “Impact Swings.” The closest guess to the number of song-writing references in my book Impact gets 10 free copies including shipping. Send your list of references plus the name of the song or songwriter to al at impact6 dot ca. Contest ends February 29, 2016. Count early and count often! More details here.