At the New York Times, Penelope Green profiles Canadian singer-songwriter K.D. Lang 25 years after the release of Lang’s album Ingénue. Green writes about how Lang has come to terms with her success, her “chapter in the history of the gay rights movement,” and about reaching middle age as an artist.
When “Ingénue” was released in 1992, with its dirge-like anthems to love and longing, the idea that a thrillingly sexual, openly gay and very butch woman would become a pop idol was seismic. It’s hard to imagine now, when hit television shows like “Transparent” treat lesbian sex as the least complicated of its themes and when the average seventh grader has been schooled in the semiotics of drag and to see gender as a spectrum.
Gay men were familiar. Gay women, not really. And certainly not gay women as magnificently sensual as Ms. Lang. In that same decade, Ellen DeGeneres would become famous, partly by being all-American affable, never an erotic threat. Even singing her fierce “Come to My Window,” Melissa Etheridge hewed closely to the image of a traditional country singer. But K. D. Lang in a man-tailored suit was something else altogether.
Middle age, Ms. Lang said, is a chapter that interests her.
“I thought about it even when I was young,” she said. “I thought about the trajectory of a career, how a lot of people that I like kind of disappeared for a while. Peggy Lee. Dean Martin. Even Tony. Even though I’m sure they were working. There are moments when they kind of went dark, and I can see now why this is because you don’t have the unbridled confidence you have when you are young and you start questioning your abilities. I’ve started to question mine and sort of narrowing my assessment of what I’m actually good at, which is probably just singing. What’s really good to me now is probably what I can’t touch in my lifetime.