Back on September 1st I wrote about how I used the Law of Attraction and the Law of Right Action to attract legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist Melissa Etheridge.
At that time I hadn’t met her yet or had my songwriting lesson with her.
Well, now I have.
As I write this in Los Angeles, I had my session with her yesterday, at her home.
She met me outside her door, hugged me, gave me that Melissa million dollar smile, and said, “I didn’t know you were a fan.”
A “fan” is an understatement.
I’m a fan-atic.
I’ve been in awe of her performing and her music since around 1995.
To be standing with her was surreal.
As it turns out, Melissa is a fan of my work, as well as the work of the rest of the teachers from the movie The Secret. She’s personal friends with Tony Robbins. (Tony introduced ho’oponopono to her and her sweet spouse.)
She reads all the deep-end metaphysical books. She says she began around 2003 by picking up Ken Wilber’s The Theory of Everything, which is like learning how to swim by being dropped in the Atlantic ocean.
Her spirituality and understanding of manifestation has helped her awaken and achieve even greater levels of success in more recent years.
She told me that laying on her back, with cancer, and watching the movie The Secret, forced her to think about what she wanted in her life.
“If I am this powerful being who gave myself cancer and can create whatever I want, then I want healed, I want to make more music, and I want to win an Oscar.”
Of course, she went on and did all of that.
My time with Melissa was about songwriting, but she began it by asking about my life in music, my books, and then showing me her guitar collection.
Her favorite guitars are in the trailer that goes on the road with her. But she has a guitar room with them lining the walls like playable art.
And she has a studio with old and new and prototype guitars. (Ovation is releasing a ME electric in January). She also has more guitars in storage.
Of course, I related, understood, and told her of my own collection, which she says she wants to see one day.
We went in her home studio to focus on my actual lesson.
We each had a guitar. I had my songbook, where I jot ideas and snippets and songs. She said the songbook is sacred. (Later, I had her sign mine, making it even more priceless to me.)
From there she had me pick a song idea. She wanted to know the why for writing a song.
“What’s important to say in the song? Why do you want to write it? What’s the intention for it?”
She told me how she wrote some of her own songs, first thinking about why she wanted to write them.
She explained that for her song, Pulse, she wanted people to know that the person who went into a nightclub and shot dozens of people did so because he was in pain.
She also explained that for the Al Gore slide show about global warning, she wanted people to know that “I have to change,” not anyone else.
I found her to be a deep thinker, cutting to the core with her messages.
I told her about wanting to tell people how they could be happy now, and manifest their lives using the Law of Attraction, and more.
She nodded, accepting my reasons.
From there, for Melissa, it all begins with what I call a brain dump.
“Just write words,” she said. “Let it be okay whatever comes.”
She also advised to “fall in love with words.”
She uses a paperback thesaurus to look up other words, so she isn’t using too common or too cliche of words.
While I had been using Masterwriter, a popular software for songwriters, I found using a printed thesaurus slower but more enlightening.
The time spent looking up a word gave my mind time to think, and the alternate words were often surprising and triggered other thoughts.
We began with me wanting to write a song about Miracles, since my new book is titled The Miracle.
But within minutes the song became about The Great Something, a concept I write about in my book The Secret Prayer.
Instead of saying God, or Divine, or Universe, I refer to the super power behind all of life as “The Great Something.”
Melissa loved “The Great Something”‘ because it made you want to know more.
In a song, it would make you want to listen.
I got excited watching the song unfold with Melissa’s help.
Melissa often writes pages of words and phrases, knowing that later she will edit them.
“Editing is the fun part,” she told me.
She pointed to the back cover of my album, One More Day, to the line, “Self-help messages in 3 minutes or so.”
“That’s the challenge,” she said, smiling bright. “To condense pages of ideas into a three minute song.”
“That’s why I’m here,” I said. 🙂
Her songwriting template, more often than not, is to write a verse, then go right to the chorus, then to a versus, chorus, bridge, and chorus again.
“It’s stating the problem in the verse, and often a solution in the chorus,” she explained. “The next verse might spell out the problem more, and the chorus will again offer the upbeat solution.”
One of the biggest insights for me was the idea of writing in the first person.
Melissa says that first person songs are more personal and hit home with people.
Second person, or ‘you’ oriented songs, are one step removed from the listener and have less impact.
More often than not, she writes in the first person.
I started to play with the idea of writing The Great Something song in the first person. I instantly felt more connected to the song, and felt more power in the message.
I also saw myself get more excited and inspired.
“Always write from inspiration,” she had told me earlier.
“Get to that place where you have tingles of excitement for whatever you are about to write,”she added. “Never write without the tingles.”
She doesn’t meditate but often walks in nature, looks at trees and flowers, reads some poetry, reviews songs from people she admires, from Bruce Springsteen to Neil Diamond, all to ignite her inspiration.
I told her I smoke cigars.
She didn’t seem to relate to that.
Of course, she lives in a state where cannabis is legal.
Later she asked me to sing for her.
Now try to imagine that.
I’m a star-struck beginner at singing, sitting in the home studio of a rock and roll legend who has the most soaring voice of all time, and she says, “Sing for me.”
That’s like having Elvis ask you to sing.
Well, I did.
I played a snippet of my song One More Day, off my One More Day album, and a snippet of my song Today’s the Day, off my Strut album.
I also played a little instrumental, to give her a sense of what Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon and I create.
I was off key, out of step, and out of tune, but I did it anyway.
Melissa smiled big and said she bets the recorded versions with the band are stellar.
I then asked about singing advice.
Melissa took a breath and gave me a long, wise, hypnotic answer about watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV and being influenced by Tom Jones, Janis Joplin, Robert Plant and others.
She noticed their joy in singing was what was so captivating.
She went on to say she wanted her music to be ballsy, not girlie.
She didn’t want to sing head voice, though she could.
She wanted something deeper and harder.
I related and told her I often felt more comfortable singing with a baritone guitar, which lowered my voice into my chest.
“That’s a good place for your voice,” she said. “It’s at home there.”
She also gave advice on performing.
“Never perform sitting down,” she said. “It cuts off your breathing.”
“And always eat, be hydrated, and get plenty of rest, so you can deliver your performance with full power.”
I’ll be processing my time with Melissa Etheridge for the rest of my life.
I found her open, loving, generous, spiritual, fearless, talented, present, friendly and wise.
She even invited me to speak on her next cruise ship concert. (!)
I was a fan (fanatic) before meeting her in person.
Today I’m in love.
Hey Melissa, I want to come over – again!
PS – Please note that whenever you have an expert coach you, your experience and expertise leap in incalculable measures. Melissa Etheridge heard a limiting belief come out of my mouth that I didn’t hear and I was the one who said it. We all need a coach. Consider Miracles Coaching.
What an incredible experience. Thank you for sharing all of that priceless advice.
PS – I love the album title and its cover.
Thank you, Mathew! 🙂
Songs don’t just come off the top of your head…they have to start in the heart…where the muse takes over…
when you find your muse…
you will know it…
practice and patience promote power…
Hi Lenny. From what I can see, songs can start anywhere, come from anywhere, and don’t follow any one path. Staying open may be the key, or not. 🙂
Joe! Great story! I think your album title is perfect! I have a cigar recommendation for you: LA FLOR DOMINICANA LA NOX. They use Dominican fillers and a Mexican San Andres binder. Then it’s finished in a dark and oily Brazilian maduro wrapper. Really great!
Thank you, Brad! I’m pretty much a Cuban cigar snob, but I’ll see if one of those comes my way. 🙂
That’s funny you should mention that you are a Cuban cigar fan… I had a hunch about that as I was writing you! I agree; there is nothing like a true Cuban cigar… I will have to say, though, that the LA FLOR DOMINICANA LA NOX smokes very close to a Cuban cigar! If, one day. you happen to smoke one, I hope you’ll remember me sending you good vibes and a whole bunch of gratitude! All the best to you, Joe!
I really enjoyed your story. Is there a chance you might speak on the next !elissa Etheridge Cruise? Would love to have you join the cruise. Big fan of your work. And Melissa’s…this last cruuse was such an amazing experience.
Hi Liz. Yes, there’s a chance. Melissa mentioned me going on the next one and speaking at it. If she asks, I’ll of course say YES. 🙂
Ah, I love this story, Joe. It’s even sweeter that you showed up a fan of hers and she was a fan of yours.
You captured your visit so clearly, I felt I was watching it. Her song writing technique is so neat it almost makes me want to write some tunes. But I’ll restreain myself.
Also, a new idea for your writing techniqe now. You can call it, “The Tingle Writing Technique.”
I have a feeling this is your first visit but not your last together.
Hi Tom. Yes, I’m eager to see her again. She was open and generous and wise and loving. Cool lady! 🙂
What a great story Joe! I am also a Fanatic of hers as well…being so for so many years as yourself, i admire her for all the reasons you descibed in your story. She is an amazing artist in every way, but most importantly, shes an amazingly awesome human being. You are so lucky to have met her..its on my bucket list to someday have the pleasure to give her a big hug and thank her for just being herself and sharing her life stories through song with all of us. Thanks Joe!
You are welcome, Debra. 🙂
I cried buckets as I read this. I have so much experience inside me and I just cant find the way to let it out. All of what you wrote both yours and Melissas, I understand but feel so trapped. have enrolled in the H,opopono course so hopefully that will help ( although I use it often already). thanks for sharing such a precious moment.
Hi Sally. All is well and all is evolving. Enjoy the adventure.
Really amazing article … very nice … Thanks for sharing this!! 🙂 🙂
I love this blog post! I have followed Melissa Etheridge all of her career, and saw her last at The Ritz in Ybor City, FL just weeks before her cancer diagnosis. Was inspired by her journey. But Melissa AND Joe Vitale. Wow! Would love to have felt the energy in the room! Makes me ask if either of you tune your guitars to 444 hz (A), the Key of David? So much healing comes from the solfeggios.
Hi Bonnie! Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon and I have recorded numerous music tracks at alternate frequencies. Check out “432 to Zero” for example. see http://www.allhealingmusic.com