Melissa Etheridge offers a proud declaration of resilience and self-care on “Faded by Design,” the first single from her upcoming LP, The Medicine Show.
“You wanna change me, don’t bother, ’cause I can read the signs,” she sings over a tough-sounding chord progression. “Just rearrange me, don’t call the doctor — the cure is in my mind.”
Starting out with a folky acoustic-guitar riff, the song builds to an upbeat chorus, with Etheridge letting out a triumphant “Oh, yeah,” before singing, “I’m feeling all my angels — I’m faded by design.”
Like The Medicine Show as a whole, the song deals with Etheridge’s unapologetic attitude toward her own well-being, and specifically the use of cannabis — a stance that echoes her longtime advocacy for pot legalization.
“The inspiration for ‘Faded by Design’ and the whole album, for that matter was, the events of 2018, both personal and political,” the singer-songwriter tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “We are changing, fast. It’s a good thing but also a scary thing. One of the places we are changing the most is in how we view health. The legalization of plant medicine is ushering in a whole new era of understanding.
“’Faded by Design’ is a song celebrating that change,” she continues. “An unapologetic statement about how I handle stress and my own health. ‘Don’t call the doctor …’ I am no longer looking to Western medicine for a pill or ‘cure.’ I know how I think and feel about myself and my world will be reflected in my body.”
Produced by Etheridge’s longtime collaborator John Shanks, who has worked with everyone from Kelly Clarkson and Celine Dion to Santana and Bon Jovi, The Medicine Show features a stripped-down band including drummer Victor Indrizzo, bassist Chris Chaney and keyboardist Max Hart. The producer also contributed guitar and backing vocals.
“The sound of the song and the record is purposefully aimed at that ‘90’s rock sound,” Etheridge writes. “When rock was moody and fierce. ‘Faded’ is spot-on a Melissa Etheridge song. You know it from the first few notes. I wrote it on my twelve string and kept it true to that sound.”