About Time for k d lang
I swore I wasn’t going to write about the Junos this year. I actually have nothing to say about them.
But here I am. Whoops. Whatever.
It’s just that I keep thinking about k d lang. For the last couple days, she’s been on my mind. This morning I figured out why: I’m kind of annoyed that she’s just now being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Why now? Why didn’t it happen ten years ago?
So I went back to see who has been inducted in the last ten years. Uhhh…The Tragically Hip? Bryan Adams? Triumph, Loverboy, April Wine? Shania Twain? What? They’re (almost) all great (no, good) artists, but why did they beat k d into the HOF?
I know that most of you reading this think there’s no point in taking issue with who is chosen for HOF honours. We all got into it last year and fair enough, there’s no good way to please everyone.
(I must say I’m quite pleased that Rush, who managed to get into the Canadian HOF in 1994, is finally…19 years later…making it into the “real” one this week. I won’t torture anyone here with another ‘yay I love Rush’ digression though.)
Others still might tell me that a) Hall of Fame honours and b) awards, whether Juno, Grammy, CMA, or other, are irrelevant, sales-based, a self-congratulatory night for an industry already choking on its inflated ego. To you, I pose this question: what if you were k d lang this week, and your own country (belatedly) decided you were one of its very best artists ever, and gave you ten minutes in its national music awards show to honour that decision? Pretty awesome, no? Like, I was so stoked about my Most Promising Tap Dancer award when I was 11 – I got to sit in the front row for that recital in the Jack Singer Concert Hall, and I got this huge trophy – come on, it’s great. For just a few minutes, put yourself in k d’s, or any other artist nominated this weekend’s, shoes. A nice honour for songwriters and performers who work so hard all year to produce quality work with few chances for acknowledgement (there’s a reason the phrase “it’s an honour to be nominated” was invented).
I haven’t watched the Junos for years, for various reasons. Mostly because I find award shows kind of dull, and contradictorily, oddly frenetic. The few things you might want to see flash by quickly, everyone gets cut off, the people who are already absurdly famous get too much air time, you know. But I think I might watch this year, as long as it doesn’t conflict with Mad Men, because I heart k d.
Like a few key others, k d was part of the soundtrack of my youth. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t aware of her; my parents went to her early wedding-dress-and-bare-feet shows on rare nights out with friends, my mother sang along to her while chopping vegetables for dinner, and we used to put her tapes on in the old blue Impala while we drove to yearly vacations in the Okanagan. I’ve seen her live a couple times and they were memorable experiences.
I also identify with the way she seems kind of conflicted about her Albertan identity. She was lucky enough to escape the conservative, suffocating small townness of the province, but she clearly always feels the pull to go back. Not to diminish her importance in myriad other ways, but it is hard to be a vegetarian there. Anyway, I feel the same way. Go home, no, escape, no, go back…aaagggh. (I’m resigned to the fact that I will inevitably end up there; I’m also kind of excited about that.) When I got to Toronto, she was often the soundtrack to parties held by the growing number of friends I acquired in the gay-trans community, and she didn’t just resonate as a gay icon for them, but held a special place in other friends’ hearts for various reasons.
The biggest of those reasons might be the fact that she’s a bloody good singer. How many people can we cite in contemporary pop (or country) as really.good.singers? Not many. And 30 years into her career, she sounds just as good as when she started. She’s the kind of singer that can make you cry. She’s the kind of singer you dream of being, when you shut yourself in your bedroom and belt out “Trail of Broken Hearts”. Not that I did that today or anything.
And she’s many of our favourite icons rolled into one. She’s the resurrected voice of Patsy Cline. She’s the cool sleekness of Roy Orbison. She’s got the fiery passion of Tina Turner and the soul of Aretha Franklin. She has the take-me-as-I-am attitude of Joe Strummer. Like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, she’s the friendly, down to earth girl, always grateful to be embraced by her home.
I totally love k d lang. It’s about time this happened.