A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Shawn Colvin's "Cover Girl" album and it got me thinking about another such recording. k.d. lang's 2004 release "Songs of The 49th Parallel" (Produced by Ben Mink and k.d. lang) reinvents and covets some famous and not-so-famous songs from other Canadian Artists - including this week's title track "Love Is Everything" by the amazing and underrated Jane Siberry. This first song on the CD is a sweet, pining tune that sets the tone for the whole album hinting as to where we will be taken over the course of our 47 minute visit up north.
As we meander our way through our trip you can't help but be struck by the oft - covered Leonard Cohen tune "Hallelujah". What makes this version different than the rest is not only the piano work that resonates throughout the whole CD - reminding me of a George Winston work of art - but there's a happiness to this version that's not apparent on either the Jeff Buckley or J.J. Cale versions. What Ms. lang shows us is a less pained side of the tune that gets illuminated by her heavenly voice and a string accompaniment that elevate her ever higher into the Canadian night sky. She also covers Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You", a delicate tune, and one of her finest, that I think can really be soiled by lesser artists. No worries here though.....you can almost picture Ms. lang sitting at her feet while she records this as Joni nods in approval. Probably the finest cover on this CD blew me away the first time I heard it - the opening cello notes of Neil Young's "Helpless" grabbed me and never let go. Building from the cello, we are carried upward like a hymn and gently brought back down to those first haunting notes. It's a very cool version of a song you've heard 1000 times - but you've never heard it like this.
One of the greatest things about this CD is that it all fits together. There is a vibe, if you will, a feel to it that carries throughout each tune. You have travelled up north on a chilly November night, it's snowing outside and inside you are kept warm by a fire and this CD. It's almost as if someone took a cue from Gary Jules' cover of the Tears For Fears song "Mad World" and ran with it. Again, to say nothing of the piano, cello, and other fine musical work, it's Ms. lang's most amazing and talented voice that make these songs more than covers...they are recreated and given a life they never knew they had. I'll admit, I am not a huge fan of hers but this CD has given me a new perspective on her and Ben Mink.
If you've been paying attention to Entertainment news of late you may have noticed a sudden rash of guys coming out of the closet and professing their gayness practically turning the last few weeks into "National Gay Boy Coming Out Month". It started with some guy from a boy band declaring his undying love for some dude thusly putting to rest any rumours. Two weeks ago T.R. Knight, from "Grey's Anatomy", who was shamelessly outed by his coworker, that idiot Isaiah Washington, made it official - to put any rumours to rest. Then this past friday that guy from "Doogie Hauser" & "How I Met Your Mother" Neil Patrick Harris did the same - to put any unseemly rumours to rest. Must be the line of the month.
All I can say is: IT'S ABOUT TIME GUYS!!! Why aren't more of you coming out? Are Elton and George the only Gay Guys around? Why are Americans, when they think of Gay People, having to think of "Ellen and Portia", "Rosie and Kelli" and "Melissa and Tammy Faye"...or whatever her name is? WHY?!?!? C'mon - there must be more dudes out there hanging with other dudes - this is nearly 2007 - what's the problem? If Anne Heche can come out, then get married to a dude, and barely skip a beat (I love her show "Men In Trees" by the way) than obviously it doesn't ruin a career! Does Hollywood think that Americans are still so homophobic that guys feel that they can't be truthful and just be themselves? Why are people still wearing 'beards' in this day and age? I mean, really, who cares?!?! Enough of the fake marriages, enough with the rumours, just DO IT!! If nothing else than to shut people up, because maybe if more dudes came out, people would care less.
Thanks for tuning in.....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!