Infinite and Unforeseen: k.d.lang on Acceptance

iStock_000045990778Small

Most of the articles in this  blog are spent trying to put into words the unnameable aspects of k.d. lang’s artistry. I think this is important because we tend to get caught up in k.d.’s delivery of her own message; it is distracting. Recently I have begun  to see k.d. lang’s voice as the chattering that often goes on in our minds. It can get in the way of focusing on important aspects of our lives. To  use  a meditation analogy, k.d.’s talent is like the constant wandering of our minds, taking us away from focusing on the present moment. Seen in this way, it is easier to acknowledge there are messages in her stuff that are easy to miss because her voice and performances are so overwhelmingly exceptional. Sometimes I wonder if k.d. gets frustrated at times because of this; she is almost too good and her insights on life and living are “lost” so to speak.

I could have picked several songs written by k.d. lang to illustrate the idea of acceptance. In my view, it is an idea she has explored in some depth over her career. But I chose “Infinite and Unforeseen” because it has few words. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the reasons there is a difference between how k.d.  sings covers and how she sings her original songs  has to do with the amount of words in the lyrics. I also picked it because this song has forced me to confront certain Truths.  One of the things I learned was about the nature of acceptance and its intricate relationship to love. I want to argue that this song “technically” is about the L word (love), but that it is also about acceptance. In fact, I want to take a somewhat bold stance and say that the word “love” can be replaced by “acceptance” in this song, and that k.d. intended this. (k.d. if you are reading this, feel free to chime and and kick me to the curb anytime!).

For those unfamiliar with what song I am talking about, it can be  found on the album All You Can Eat.

The first reason why I want to claim that this song is really about acceptance is because of the way it is performed. I wouldn’t say that this song sounds “happy”. In fact, k.d. almost sings this song under duress. The mood is a bit dark, even though it is about this great life mystery revealed. And, as I have noted before, it is almost amelodic; not exactly a toe tapper. Further, at points, k.d.’s voice is inarticulately breathy so it is hard to ignore the suggestion that she is not a happy camper; that perhaps tears are very near. Part of this is because the entire song is sung at a very high register, so breathy-ness is par for the course. But another part is because k.d. wants the song to teeter just on the edge of sadness. Acceptance is like this; we often cry and it is usually, at a minimum, borderline excruciating.

The second reason why I think this song discusses the nature of acceptance is because the lyrics talk about love. Love, as we all know, is a strange thing, and it is the only experience (besides death perhaps) that can evoke a continuum of human emotion. The very first word in the song is “after”. Right a way, this word makes us think of a decrease in intensity; a let down if you will. This feeling is true for both love and acceptance; after an experience of each, there is an emotional slump; a fatigue and sense of calm. The second word “always” points to the idea of constant change. Not only does love change, but so does our understanding of it. This is also true for acceptance. Acceptance has many facets. Like love, it is a curriculum for a lifetime. Hence, “infinite and unforeseen”. We often understand that love hits us without notice. But so does acceptance. We either are accepted, or have to accept something without any time to prepare.

I could continue this discussion by playing “chicken or the egg” with love and acceptance, but it seems that k.d. takes the wind out of the sails of such an inquiry with the line “a place you’ve always been”. The point, I think, is that both love and acceptance are deeply related and timeless, and, of course, both are unforeseen.

Infinite and Unforeseen

After
Always
Love becomes
A dream
Infinite and unforeseen
It takes you by surprise
There, before your eyes
A place you’ve always been
A place you’ve always been
It takes you by surprise
There, before your eyes
A place you’ve always been
A place you’ve always been
Infinite and unforeseen
Infinite and unforeseen

“Infinite and Unforeseen” as written by K. D. Lang and Ben Mink.

6 Comments

  1. well said kath ~ I enjoy reading these post. like k.d. lang I appreciate your thoughts, humor and honesty. this is one of my favorite songs of k.d. lang and that’s not easy with such a wonderful range of tunes but although the lyrics are few in infinate and unforeseen, they are power and so beautifully delivered in so many ways. she’s as great a songwriter as almost singer in my opinion. thanks for sharing. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your thinking re:k.d.’s music has given me a sudden new understanding of her whole artistry. Every song I hear again is huge with a depth and richness I never heard before. It is a wonderful experience and I so thank you for leading me to it.
    Heh! kicking off a whole new marathon of k.d.! This is going to take weeks and I am looking forward to every minute of it. :-)))

    Like

  3. I hope others aside from me are reading your gifted words, kath. you have truly become an inspiration to those of us who need some depth and breadth vis-à-vis such a mystifying celebrity. and thank you for your honesty that shines so eloquently through your exquisite utterances. please keep them flowing ……best, virginia

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s