One Hit Wondering – Meredith Brooks

One Hit Wondering is a series of columns where I listen to the album of a one hit wonder, and find three songs, other than the hit, that people should hear. 

“I’m a bitch, I’m a lover / I’m a child, I’m a mother / I’m a sinner, I’m a saint / I do not feel ashamed.”

If you were listening to music in 1997 you can probably still recite this chorus to this day, because Meredith Brooks gave us a memorable, in your face classic with “Bitch.”

Off her sophomore album, Blurring the Edges, “Bitch” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the Top 40 / Mainstream chart, with the video staying in heavy rotation on MTV.

The song exuded strength, and an honest comfort with oneself, turning it into an anthem for many. Brooks wasn’t just recognizing she was multifaceted, she was reveling in it, and it inspired others to revel in their own multifaceted nature.

There was a definite maturity to “Bitch,” and that’s because by the time it came out Brooks was already a 20 year veteran of the scene.

Yes, that’s right, Meredith Brooks’ first musical project was in the ‘70s.

I’ll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor, because I’m guessing most of you, like me, thought she was born in the ‘70s.

It was in 1976, however, that a then 17 year old Brooks kicked off her career in her native Oregon as a member of an all-female band named Sapphire.

Being that other bands have used the name since, it’s tough to find information on the Sapphire Brooks was in, or any of their music, but I came across the following PR photo Brooks posted on her Facebook page in 2018

Sadly, the photo was accompanied by the news of the passing of Sapphire bass player Pam Johnson. While writing of her passing, Brooks added the following about the band

“When I was 17 I was in an all girl band in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) called Sapphire. There weren’t many girl bands at the time, maybe two, and our goal was to be as good as any musician male or female! It was my first great rock’n’ roll experience. We did it all, played live, made records, did the full on van tour, met and partied with KISS (that’s all I’m going to say) and to this day are still family.” 

Meredith, if you’re reading this, I want to do the interview where you tell those KISS stories!

Sapphire split in 1982, and Brooks moved to Los Angeles to become a solo artist. Her self-titled debut was came out in 1986, but it was only released in Europe, and never made its way to the States until a re-release over a decade later.

Shortly after her initial solo endeavor she joined Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go’s, and Gia Ciambotti to form the pop-rock band The Graces.

Active from 1987 to 1991, The Graces had a moderate hit with “Lay Down Your Arms” (peaking at #56), but after their 1989 debut album, Perfect View, and three subsequent singles, failed to achieve mainstream success, the band was dropped by their label.

The Graces were almost re-signed in 1992, but before anyone could put pen to paper Gia was offered a gig singing backup with the E Street Band, and opted to hit the road with Bruce Springsteen rather than work on a new Graces project (I can’t imagine anyone faulted her for that).

Brooks decided that after 16 years, two bands, and one solo album, it was time for a break, and temporarily retired from the music industry. Her lack of interest in the cynicism of grunge also reportedly played a role in her decision.

A few years later, however, a spark was reignited in her, and she decided she wanted to write music with a positive message. Enter her friend, prolific songwriter Shelly Peiken (seriously, her resume is insane!).

Brooks, and Peiken began working on what would become Brooks’ sophomore album, Blurring the Edges.

In 1995 Brooks landed a contract with Capitol Records, and two years later, in March of ’97, “Bitch,” co-written by Brooks, and Peiken, and produced by noted West Coast punk rock producer Geza X (Dead Kennedys, Germs, Redd Kross, Black Flag), hit the airwaves.

Two months after that, in May of ’97, just over 20 years from when she started her career as a member of Sapphire, and 11 years after the release of her first solo album, Blurring the Edges was released.

Off the success of “Bitch” the album went platinum, and Brooks would become a Lilith Fair mainstay.

Unfortunately, not every live experience was as positive for her as Lilith. In 1998 Brooks opened for The Rolling Stones in Argentina, and it would prove to be a truly awful time. The Stones fans were violent, throwing various objects at her, and on the second, and final night, she cut her set short after “Bitch,” told the crowd what she thought of their behavior, and left the stage.

Even with all the touring, the three singles released after “Bitch” never made it into heavy rotation, and while she released three more albums through 2007 – her final being a children’s album she was inspired to write after the birth of her son – a second lightning in a bottle moment wasn’t in the cards … at least not as a performer.

While Brooks was working on her music she was simultaneously building her own studio, and becoming an early adopter of Pro Tools. In fact, Brooks is credited as one of the first women to learn Pro Tools, and she became so accomplished with it she represented them at NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in 2000.

Over the years, Brooks has worked as a writer, and producer for a number of recognizable names, including producing Jennifer Love Hewitt’s fourth album, 2002’s BareNaked, and co-writing and producing for Hilary Duff’s multi-platinum album, Metamorphosis, the following year.

To make a long story short (since you’ve already read the long part. YES!) – Meredith Brooks is remarkably underrated in regards to her place in music history.

Rewinding back to when “Bitch” made Brooks a household name, I gave my copy of Blurring the Edges a spin, and found three songs, other than “Bitch,” that you should hear.

“What Would Happen”


“What Would Happen” was the third single released from Blurring the Edges, and it’s a sultry gem. When I say it’s hot, I mean it’s hot, and part of the reason it’s hot is because rather than being lewd, it’s alluring. Brooks has the listener legitimately imagining all the things that could happen “if we kissed.”

I’m not sure why this song didn’t hit, because MY GAWD!

For the record, if I’m ever sharing an elevator with Meredith Brooks, and she’s rockin’ a black leather jacket, lookin’ like a super fine badass, and shoots me that glance … let’s just say I’ll consider it a great day!

“It Don’t Get Better”


I’m a sucker for a good blues riff, and “It Don’t Get Better” has a nice blues backbone. Throw in Brooks making her vocals match the strength, and soul of the song, and add in a nice guitar solo, and it really “don’t” get much better than this.

I’ll admit this song isn’t as commercially viable as some of the others on Blurring the Edges, but it’s definitely one of my favorites, and everyone should give it a spin.

“I Need”


Released as the follow up to “Bitch,” I have absolutely no idea why “I Need” didn’t hit. It’s pure ‘90s girl power alt-rock goodness, and it should’ve fit into rotation on pretty much every radio station, and been a mainstay on MTV.

It seems unlikely that the promotional budget was a limiting factor being that the label released two more songs from Blurring the Edges after this, but in 1997 there was A LOT of music being released – in August alone, when “I Need” was came out, Backstreet Boys released Backstreet’s Back, and Biggie posthumously hit #1 with “Mo Money, Mo Problems” – so maybe there simply wasn’t enough airtime for everything, and “I Need” fell through the cracks.

Regardless, it’s well worth finding no matter what year we’re in!

Until next time, here’s to discovering more great music from one hit wonders!


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