It's something that every musician dreams of attaining. That album that breaks out, crosses over from a marginal success to a career-defining blockbuster in the same vein as Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" or U2's "Joshua Tree."
After three albums and years of honing her craft in clubs and as an opening act, 1993 was the year Melissa Etheridge finally struck gold and had her blockbuster with her mainstream breakthough "Yes I Am," which showcased what many had already known about the singer-songwriter - She's a bona fide star.
"You never know when you're going to have THAT album," Etheridge said during a recent telephone interview. "It kind of sneaks up on you."
"Yes I Am" was definitely THAT album for Etheridge, selling over 6 million copies and spawning the hits "Come To My Window," I'm The Only One" and "If I Wanted To." Yet, not everyone was convinced it was going to be a game changer for her.
"I remember Chris Blackwell (founder of Island Records) came and listened to the album in the studio," she said. "He said 'this okay, but it's not your career album.' I joke with him now and tell him that he was so wrong."
Melissa Etheridge brings her Yes I Am 25th Anniversary Tour to Gruene Hall at 7 p.m. TONIGHT in New Braunfels - a show that sold out moments after the celebration was announced.
Etheridge said that after recording "Yes I Am" that she knew she had something special, but didn't know how special.
"I had done three albums and done well in rock radio, but I kind of plateaued," she said. "I know that Chris and the record company were really determined to make this right. They were all behind the album. As for myself, I knew that I had to do what I do best and that is to write some good rock and roll songs. You listen to 'I'm the Only One' and that is from that Muddy Waters blues shuffle where rock and roll was born. This was just a straight forward rock record."
But the album wasn't an overnight success by any means.
"I remember that we released 'I'm the Only One' as the first single and it did nothing," she said. "Then we released 'Come To My Window' and then the album took off, but it took a whole year for that to happen."
It was the hit "Come To My Window" and the amazing video starring actress Juliette Lewis that garnered heavy rotation on MTV and launched the album into multi-platinum status, and Etheridge graduated from an opening several shows for The Eagles to a headlining arenas around the country.
"I had been playing in clubs for years and it was like a natural progression once I became the headliner and playing the big arenas," she said. "I never take my fans for granted and always give the best I have no matter if I'm playing a small club or a big arena. It's the same connection you have with all those fans who came to see you perform."
If you've never seen Melissa Etheridge in concert, just know that she is a powerhouse on stage as she strums her guitar and belts out heart-felt lyrics to songs that most fans know by heart and sing a long with her with the same passion. Her connection to her live audience is uncanny and she promises to bring her best tonight at Gruene Hall.
"When I play live, I really try to go back to those early albums and play the songs that people love that weren't the hits like 'Royal Station 4/16, which I love to play," she said. "Everybody expects the hits and I don't disappoint there, but its nice to bring out a gem every once in a while to surprise the old fans as well as the new ones."
"I'm playing a pretty amazing place in Gruene Hall," she said. "It's not often that you get to see me play in such a small place. I get really excited for shows that this because I know that everyone there really wants to be there. I mean we are going to play a bunch from the 'Yes I Am' album because we are celebrating it, but I'm going to bring out a bunch of the rock and roll numbers. It's going to be a real sweaty night for everyone."