“Wish you would step back from that ledge my friend/ You could cut ties with all the lies/ That you’ve been living in/ And if you do not want to see me again/ I would understand/ I would understand,” she belted out, playing with the alt-rock classic’s iconic melody while her backing guitarist sang along.
After welcoming the audience to the show, the American Idol winner gave some context for the song’s cryptic lyrics. “The song was tragically inspired by the death of a gay teenager who was bullied. It’s been celebrated for its message of support for the LGBTQ+ community, which is why we chose it for today. Because today is Spirit Day!” she explained. “So my band, me and everyone in our audience is wearing purple in recognition. Spirit Day was created to show support for LGBTQ+ youth and speak out against bullying.”
The song, from the band’s eponymous debut album, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1999.
During the show, Clarkson invited Margaret Cho to highlight some of her own LGBTQ+ role models — such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova — and had a Utah mom share a powerful message about accepting your LGBTQ+ child when he or she comes out.
Other Kellyoke tracks performed by the talk-show host in recent episodes include Jackson Dean’s “Don’t Come Lookin’,” “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night” and Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’” with special guest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Watch Clarkson power through Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” below.