Grammy-winning musician and gay rights activist Melissa Etheridge debuted a new song this week in response to the terror attack that claimed the lives of 49 people over the weekend in Orlando, Florida.
Titled “Pulse,” after the name of the club in which a gunman who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State opened fire early Sunday morning, Etheridge’s song vows that “love will always win” because “everybody’s got a pulse.”
“Everybody’s got a pain inside/ Imaginary wounds they fight to hide/ How can I hate them, when everybody’s got a pulse?” the 55-year-old two-time Grammy-winner sings over a sparse acoustic guitar-based arrangement.
“Who you gonna hate now?/ When there’s no one left but you?” Etheridge defiantly sings in the latter half of the song, in an apparent challenge directed to gunman Omar Mateen. “Who you gonna gun down?/ If you can’t kill the truth/ That it’s inside of us/ Inside our blood/ Inside our pulse.”
In an interview accompanying the release of the song, Etheridge told Rolling Stone that as a musician, she felt she had to respond to the terror attack in the best way she knew how: through song.
“When such violence, when such horrible hideous violence is turned against people who are loving, it’s like the greatest of the opposites just clashing,” she told the outlet. “That’s where my heart always goes. When it comes to my community, the gay community, it doesn’t make sense to me, to be so vilified and so hated for who we love. It’s something that doesn’t make sense.”
Etheridge added that whatever the terrorist’s personal ideology (he was reported to have called 911 to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State), the killer suffered from a “terrorist cell of a state of mind.”
Etheridge told Rolling Stone:
“Who knows what [the shooter] was going through? Who knows his own pain and his own reason for hating and fearing? Homophobia is hideous. It’s the ultimate hating of yourself, so you got to take out other people. We can’t; we can’t; we can’t. We have to show up. We have to bring a friend to Pride this weekend. We have to. We have to be more. Love has to be stronger than hate, which is just fear. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear – and that’s exactly what this is. We have to. For generations to come, we have to be the generation that showed up. That kept getting on the frontlines. The frontlines are clubs, are parades… They’re being out and living. We have to keep doing it.”
“Pulse” will reportedly be made available for purchase soon, with Etheridge pledging all proceeds to an unspecified LGBT charity.
— Melissa Etheridge (@metheridge) June 13, 2016
Listen to the full song at Rolling Stone.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum