I'm the Only One

Album: Yes I Am (1993)
Charted: 8
  • In "I'm the Only One," Melissa Etheridge is confronting a lover who is tempted by another. Rather than begging her lover to stay, she's almost daring her to have the affair, knowing that in the end, she'll realize that Etheridge is the only woman who can truly love her.

    The song was inspired by Etheridge's relationship with Julie Cypher, who was married to the actor Lou Diamond Phillips when she met Etheridge in 1988. Etheridge and Cypher paired up soon after, but according to Etheridge (revealed in her book The Truth Is: My Life in Love and Music), Cypher wanted an open relationship so she could explore the lesbian lifestyle, something Etheridge found devastating. Those feelings are expressed in this song, as Etheridge loved Cypher so much she was willing to let her have affairs, but at the same time yearned for monogamy.

    The couple had two children (born to Cypher), but split up in 2000. Etheridge claimed that Cypher admitted during one of their therapy sessions that she was not gay.
  • Asked during a Reddit AMA what was the original idea for this song, Etheridge replied that "a terrible heartache" was her inspiration.
  • Etheridge came out as gay in 1993, and her album title Yes I Am is a nod to this admission. Her songs, however, remained gender-neutral, as she could be singing this to a man or a woman. In "I'm the Only One," only the paramour is identified as female.

    Many songwriters use this technique, as it tends to make songs more relatable to a wider audience.
  • This was Etheridge's highest-charting song on the Hot 100, and also her only #1 Adult Contemporary hit. The song was a rare mainstream pop number by an emerging artist at a time when grunge and hip-hop had fractured the Contemporary Hit Radio format.
  • The steamy video was directed by David Hogan, whose credits include "U Got the Look" by Prince and "You're Still the One" by Shania Twain. The clip won for Outstanding Music Video at the GLAAD Media Awards.
  • Etheridge's early song "Bring Me Some Water" was also inspired by a girlfriend who wanted to see other people. This topic comes up again in "Lover Please," a song released in 2001 after her breakup with Cypher in which she sings about her lover stepping out. Etheridge has described these songs as a trilogy.

Comments: 7

  • Michael from IrelandA song that is gender-neutral should have no pronouns or mention of Gender in the song. To say that I'm the only one is a gender-neutral song is wrong. A gender-neutral (love) song, doesn't have 'she/her' or 'him/he' or mention of a specific gender in it. This song does therefore it isn't gender-neutral. Any gender-neutral songs that I know of have 'me/myself' or 'you/yourself.'
  • Chad from Austin, TxIf I may; I'm a guitarist of 35 years playing-all kinds and styles but mostly rock. Rock and roll is about a heart that loves, needs, enjoys, and shouts about everything that is really awesome and beautiful in this world, and that's why Women are such a prolific subject of the genre. Of course Etheridge likes boobs: boobs are SUPER awesome. That's rock and roll and that's what Etheridge does- very freaking well I might add.
  • Pat from Virginia Beach, VaI do not agree with the songfact about this being a song from Etheridge's trilogy that includes "Bring Me Some Water" and "Lover Please". Melissa has many, many songs about breakups...certainly more than just three. I do agree with all the comments about love. If you can't get over the fact that Melissa is a lesbian, you don't deserve the privilege of hearing her music!!!
  • Dee from New York, OrLove this song. The choice of it's vocabulary accents the extreme desire and passion Melissa had. Sometimes I sang this to my baby. Weird, I know, but it was like I was the one up rocking her to sleep and probably someday she'll choose her Mom as her hero. It is a similar passion....parents also feel like they are "the only one who'll walk across the fire for ya...:
  • Rick from Boston, MaI agree Shannon. Love is love, that's it, doesn't matter your gender or your partner's gender. My band covers this song and I love it every time.
  • Shannon from Phelan, CaI feel sorry for anyone who changes the way they feel about a song because of the sexual preference that the singer has who is singing the song. Are you really that concerned with what a person does behind their own closed doors that you can't hear the beauty of their music? That's just sad and narrowminded. Melissa Etheridge has some of the deepest lyrics written today. And to label her and her music is simply asinine. Of course, Melissa is laughing all the way to the bank, so I guess it really doesn't matter.
  • Karen from Crystal Lake, IlI don't think it matters if she is a lesbian. I think this song applies to love no matter your sexual preferance.
see more comments

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Pam TillisSongwriter Interviews

The country sweetheart opines about the demands of touring and talks about writing songs with her famous father.

Christopher CrossSongwriter Interviews

The man who created Yacht Rock with "Sailing" wrote one of his biggest hits while on acid.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.

Chrissie Hynde of The PretendersSongwriter Interviews

The rock revolutionist on songwriting, quitting smoking, and what she thinks of Rush Limbaugh using her song.