No doubt love is the single most inspiring force in life. In our modern lives, we throw the term around as if we have clarity about what it is and means. We say we want it, have it, miss it, did it, hope for it and more; just add any verb. But here is the kicker; albeit Love is THE singularly most important aspect about the human condition, it is abused and misunderstood by the majority of us. Whether this is out of ignorance, or greed, or selfishness may be or another discussion, but this seems to be a fact. Most of us just don’t get it. And if you think you do, think again.
The reason I mention this lack of comprehension about LOVE, is because if this were not the case, then when artists like k.d. lang sang about love, no one would pay much attention. But they do pay attention. In fact, they become obsessed. All anyone needs to do is take a quick glance at the search results on Twitter for “kd lang”. Over and over again fans and newbies post videos and personal “eurekas” about songs kd has sung about love. “Constant Craving” and “Hallelujah” are two that the world just can’t seem to get out of their heads. But if you look some more you will see “Crying” and “Consequences of Falling” and others. Now, not to be rude, but none of these songs are exactly new for k.d., and yet their meaning is timeless for the myriads of people listening to her stuff all over the world. So, here I want to try and talk about why this is the case. There have been a lot of great songs written about love, but few artists can say that for nearly 4 decades, their renditions are listened to time and time again with new and enthusiastic fans joining the “Sing it Loud” campaign every day.
Now, I could try and speculate that k.d. has experienced a lot of pain and happiness from love in her own life, and this is why she sings about it so well. But I do not find this path too lucrative. I mean, we can all say the same, and all artists can say the same. It is pretty much standard operating procedure for being human to have had a bone to pick with LOVE. Thus, while this may play a small role, k.d.’s own experiences with LOVE are not the lead in her vocal presentations.
Or, I could try and argue that k.d. has some knowledge about LOVE that the rest of us do not have. But as great as that idea may sound, we all know that she is just about as confounded about it as is everyone else. So, if k.d.’s songs about love are not great for these two reasons, then what else could it be?
My idea is that each time k.d. sings these songs is the “first time”. It is like she sings in an eternal now. Of course, there are things like muscle memory, and lyrical memory that are physical and probably go into autopilot for her when she sings. But I want to suggest that the reason people keep sharing her YouTube performances on Twitter is because it does not matter which performance you listen to. It is as if the song has never been sung before. Think of it this way: Can you think of a time when you FIRST saw some natural beauty, like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yosemite in the USA. Or the Swiss Alps or the Canadian Rockies? Even if you ended up seeing these places again, nothing captures the sense of connection you felt the first time. In that moment (assuming you are paying the slightest spiritual attention) you “understood” something. Perhaps it was the grandeur of the natural world, or the insignificance of what kind of car you drive, or how you are miraculously a part of this human living or whatever it was for you. If you recall this, then you can see that it is very difficult to put into words. Yet, it is something you never forget, and the lesson you learned is clear for you.
I think, that when k.d. sings about love, it is like this for her every time. Somehow she is able to access that fleeting moment of “Aha”; that instant when we understand for a millisecond what life and love may have in common. And this is why we like to listen to her songs about love over and over and over again. This is not something all artists can do. But k.d. seems to be able to. Thus, the next time you listen to k.d. belt out your favorite love song, see if you can access that “eternal now” of knowledge and understanding even if slips away like a fuzzy dream.