January 15, 2010

kd lang and... us

kd lang is releasing a retrospective of her career, recollection - lower case! - on February 2nd. Strangely, this is her first hits collection. The expanded version is spread out over three CDs with a DVD, though the CDs oddly have only 11 songs. I could easily have put 20 on each.

It would be wrong of me not to say that kd lang’s music is an important common interest that I shared with my friend Sheryl, who died last March. Sheryl particularly loved kd in her early sort of "lesbo rodeo girl" phase, but followed her throughout her career. Sheryl and I had already become friends when kd released her mega album Ingénue, which we played incessantly for months and months (along with Annie Lennox’s Diva).

kd is a brilliant, giving songwriter. Her most well known song, Constant Craving (watch it), proves that, but I think her greatest strength is interpreting lyrics in a way that you truly believe what she is saying. Tonight I played kd’s amazing Hymns Of The 49th Parallel album. Probably the best covers record ever made. In particular, her versions of songs by Jane Siberry, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are – to my ears - definitive. Music that feeds the soul.

On kd’s cover of Neil Young’s Helpless (watch it) she sings, “In my mind, I still need a place to go. All my changes were there,” and I think of one particular year with Sheryl, in Fredericksburg, our college town. That period of time is, in my mind, “the hanging out years,” because I remember just hanging out in friends’ apartments rather than actually doing anything productive. Years later I really cherish that time and it doesn’t seem wasted at all.

Her cover of Joni Mitchell’s lesser known song Jericho (hear it) is a touchstone: “Anyone will tell you just how hard it is to make and keep a friend.” Especially a lifelong one.

So. Being very personal on this blog is really not my most comfortable thing. But I’ll share this with anyone who has to go through a loss like this, especially losing a peer so young or anyone taken too soon. Someone you grew up with in the true, emotional sense of reacting to life’s constant challenges and supporting one another. The next album kd lang releases, I'll be on my own, no Sheryl. Almost a year on, I realize that one of the hardest things for me about losing someone I loved is that I also lost someone who loved me.

"and though you trust the light towards which you wend your way
sometimes it feels all that you wanted has been taken away

you will walk,
you will walk in good company

I love the best in you
you love the best in me
though it's not always easy
lovely... lonely

we will walk,
we will walk in good company
the shepherd upright and flowing
you see... "

from Jane Siberry's The Valley, sung by kd on Hymns Of The 49th Parallel and the new hits collection


Paul said...

My friends Ruthiepoos and Lou love love love KD Lang (they saw her in concert last year) and always play her when we go to dinner so I'm somewhat familiar with her. I seem to recall she did an outstanding rendition of Hallelujah that put the x-factor version to shame?

phuzzybear said...

Beautiful post. Beautifully written. x

Dan said...

What a wonderful post. Bravo.

countpopula said...

Lovely words, especially with so much death and loss in the world. My boss at work died this past Monday. His favorites were singers like kd (her Orbison duet is one to cherish--and where is Jane Siberry these days? Certainly she didn't stop writing music?). He once told me his most-played artist was Sinead O'Connor. The words, music, and voices of these artists will continue to resonate long after they're gone.

zen~ said...

Bless you, XO. kd has been a longstanding favourite singer of mine. Indeed, she is a fabulous interpretor of other people's songs -- When The Heart Caves In reduces me to tear, every time!

I have seen her live a couple of times (always front or second row!) and it is impossible to alternative feel intense emotions of joy or sorrow when listen to the appropriate songs. It really is like she is channelling the Big O when she does CRYING every time. x

DanProject76 said...

Oh yeah, I should buy that album because I've always kind of liked her but never owned any of her stuff. A few of her songs crop up on my mix CDs (Helpless is gorgeous and I love her Bond theme that never quite was).

Alicia K said...

One of my all-time favorite singers - love her lush voice! I was disappointed with her last album - it bored me to tears. Lovely post.

Yuяi said...

kd has 60 songs? I had no idea.

xolondon said...

Agreed about the last CD, Alicia. I never got into it.

D'luv said...

Isn't it great how, for whatever reasons, friendships present and past live on through music? I could probably pull out about 20 CDs that remind me of someone different.

Great post. Time heals, but as Take That said so perfectly, Never Forget.

Side note: my roommate in my very first apartment ever back in '97 was obsessed with kd lang and Boy George. She'd make me watch kd concert videos all the time.

janina said...

thanks so much for your post on the recollection cd and personal words. it reminds me that it's not just the music also that makes her special but what she does in her own way different to each of us in a giving and beautiful way with both art and herself.

kd in concert, which i saw her in new york city for the watershed tour, is even better than on record and thank goodness for art and singers like her in this world that bring such joy and beauty.

thanks again for sharing.

Dan said...

Robbie, that's the most brilliant part about music for me - how it defines things and people and relationships. How a song can remind us of something that will cross not a single other person's mind if you had 1000 people listen to the same song is amazing to me even though it really shouldn't be.

"Constant Craving" is probably the song of hers I know best, but I was always fond of the follow-up "Miss Chatelaine" (sp?)

xolondon said...

I am going to TRY and do a kd Top Ten Plus One here, in no order:

Constant Craving
Love Affair
Love Is Everything
Lifted By Love
The Valley
Busy Being Blue
Black Coffee
Outside Myself

xolondon said...

Meant to say that one song I DO really like from her 2008 CD is Thread. Smart lyric.

countpopula said...

I like your top 10 list, although I cannot believe Til the Heart Caves In is not there. Thanks for namechecking the lesser-known Love Affair though--simply excellent. I would have to add Season of Hollow Soul and When We Collide.

small squirrel said...

lovely post Steve. I am sure that Sheryl, wherever she is, is smiling and would have some quirky and equally touching comment for you.

the people we meet and take into our lives and truly love along the way are what makes life important. the things we share with them are the gifts we get to keep with us even when they are gone.

Martin said...

Since Sheryl mentioned loving kd in her lesbo-rodeo-girl phase, it's worth mentioning in this thread that Tuesday will see the 25th-anniversary issue of an expanded version of _A Truly Western Experience_.