I am the first to admit that I am not the best kd lang “fan” out there. What I know of her career overall I could put in a thimble. But certainly I appreciate the more existential properties of her being, not only as an artist, but as a human being. This is why my reaction to a “confession” she made to Tami Simon at the Wake Up Festival a few days ago may not be considered “appropriate”. Yet I feel obligated to discuss it here.
Tami Simon was asking kd how she came to work so closely with a Buddhist teacher. kd’s answer brought up the topic of motivation. Apparently, while kd was with Warner Bros she was unclear about her motivation as an artist. When Tami followed up on the issue of motivation kd admitted that she struggles with the motivation to perform.
There were two basic responses from the crowd (1) Dissenting groans of disappointment (and disapproval) and (2) Silence. To be fair, most of the “groans” came from outside fans who had bought a day pass to the Wake Up Festival just to see kd. The hard core Wake Up Festival attendees remained mostly silent.
What I will remember for a long time was the expression on kd’s face and her reaction to the audience’s response. On the one hand she was playful and lighthearted, but on the other, I felt I noticed her retract into a feeling of imprisonment. Of course kd NEVER said such things; these are merely my perceptions.
What I want to address is the idea that it is not only acceptable for kd not to perform anymore (or at least a lot less), but that it is the natural progression of her spiritual evolution. For the past 27 years or so, kd has suited up and shown up time and time again, most likely to the dismissal of some of her own personal goals and interests. All it takes is a basic Internet search to see that kd makes appearances at one charity event after another, day in and day out.
Her reaction on stage that evening reminded me of the scene from Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ when the angel comes and tells Jesus that he does not have to die; that he has done enough. A large part of me feels this is an appropriate analogy.
Many reading this will immediately say “But kd has chosen to be an artist. If she does not want to sing, she does not have to”. This is an oversimplification of kd’s plight (for lack of a better word) in life. I argue that with such an exceptional talent, there is not so much choice. I believe that kd fully understands that her abilities to bring music and meaning to others is rare, and that it is an unwritten moral obligation to do right by it. She has an understanding that she is more than “just an artist”; that she brings with her voice the added introduction to spirituality.
I want to be clear that I in no way intend to suggest that kd has no autonomy. But what I want to underscore is that there is likely a deep rooted tension between artistic freedom and moral duty. kd is in a position few are. It changes the rules a bit, or least I am arguing that she believes this to be true.
But I do want to say, for the record, that it is OK not to perform anymore kd. Or at least, to perform less. You have indeed “done enough”. I think all of us will agree that your soul, in this life, takes precedence. If not performing is what is next in your soul’s existential process, then so it shall be.