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
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