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Melissa Etheridge Returns to "Slamming" Rock on March LP "Fearless Love"

October 5, 2009 3:50 PM ET

Melissa Etheridge had a simple message when she met with producer John Shanks to discuss her next album. "I told him that I wanted to make a record that's a hundred miles an hour all the time — unabashedly drawing from my all of my influences," she says. "What we've done rocks harder than I've rocked in years. There's a couple of ballads on it, but the majority of it is just really slamming." The disc — Fearless Love — is due in March, with the debut single (also called"Fearless Love") coming out in January.

Shanks, who has worked with everybody from Ashlee Simpson to Bon Jovi, began his career as Etheridge's guitar player more than 20 years ago. "He likes to say I discovered him at [L.A. punk club] Madam Wong's," says Etheridge. "That's where I first heard him play." On Fearless Love, Etheridge says she is no longer trying to write pop hits for the radio. "I can't play that game anymore," she says. "You can't win because if you sound like you are trying to write a pop song nobody likes you."

Etheridge was discussing her new disc at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square last week shortly before taking the stage for a concert that aired live on Sirius XM's the Pulse. The five-song set featured hits like"Come to My Window" and "I'm the Only One," but nothing from the forthcoming disc. The show was the beginning of Pinktober, a month-long initiative to raise money for breast cancer research. "There's so many survivors now, but unfortunately we also have so many of us getting diagnosed," Etheridge says. "Our whole paradigm of health is upside down. The money is made when we're sick. It's a sinking ship and I think we're seeing that. That's why I like getting the message out."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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