Tag Archives: K.D. Lang

The Moebius strip of memory, or, Paging Oliver Sacks

In the spring and summer of 1993, while I worked and worried obsessively at a novel-length story idea, I also listened obsessively to two recordings: Beaster by Sugar, and Ingenue by K.D. Lang.  And I really do mean obsessive: Beaster came out on a two-sided cassette, so I kept it going as a loop while I drove back and forth  between home and Shore.  Believe it or not, the combination  made sense as background music for my thoughts at the time.

I brought the novel along as far as I could, but I could see it was not yet ready for prime time, and the manuscripts went into a carton.

Race ahead to last week, when the idea once more started gnawing at the back of my skull. The gnawing grew so insistent that I started writing things out. As the idea returned, so did the music, and I’m once again listening to Ingenue and Beaster on a heavy basis.

Stranger still, I’m re-experiencing some of the inchoate emotions that accompanied the work. I’m not entirely comfortable with this — if I bring it to a proper conclusion, the novel will be one of the least comforting stories ever written — but there it is.

I’m sure Oliver Sacks would have something to say about this.

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Blue Monday (Hallelujah edition)

No, I wasn’t at Leonard Cohen’s show at the Beacon. No, I’m not happy about that fact, even though tickets vanished faster than some of the more exotic subatomic particles, and the ones remaining were being scalped at prices that would have appalled a Pentagon contractor, and there was no earthly possibility of getting comped unless you were connected to the people who were connected to the people who were connected to the people. So I missed what was probably my last chance to see the man himself doing his songs, himself.

Oh well. The upside is that while my respect for Leonard Cohen’s songwriting knows no bounds, this respect does not extend very far for his singing. To put it in terms Cohen himself might appreciate: if, when Ophelia threw herself into that body of water, there had been a bullfrog sitting on a lily-pad in that body of water, and if the frog had been inclined to sing a song about what was going on, that bullfrog probably would have sounded exactly like Leonard Cohen. It would have been a great song, no doubt, but still — a bullfrog, you know?

A case in point is “Hallelujah,” performed here by Cohen himself in his usual sing-speak mode:

Now here’s Jeff Buckley’s rapturously beautiful version, my favorite:

Leonard Cohen is God’s gift to singers because the lyrics and the song structures are all in place, just waiting for someone with a voice to complete the picture. Here’s K.D. Lang doing her own version:

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