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It was 1999 and Muriel’s Supper Club had just unveiled their glamorous new hot-spot in Palm Springs, which stood right where Lulu is now. In a savvy move, Muriel’s booked k.d. lang, right out of the gate. Unfortunately, in three clicks of k.d.’s cowboy boots, the tickets were sold out – leaving a town full of fans with a “Constant Craving” that couldn’t be satiated.
In a moment of genius, Muriel’s owners announced that they would open the whole front of the supper club and put speakers on the sidewalk so if we stood on the street, we could at least hear what we were missing inside. I teetered on the curb, clinging amorously to a parking meter and listened until k.d. crooned out her last note. It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference is. If you’ve ever heard her sing live – you’ve felt it. That trademark resonance in her voice has a reputation for causing an involuntary tingle down there!
A few days ago my phone rang and I heard “Shann Carr?” I answered yes. She said, “This is k.d. lang.” I squealed, “Who gets to hear that?!” She let out the first of many long, deep laughs that kept me at ease for the whole interview.
The BottomLine: Do you remember singing to the people out on the street in front of Muriel’s 13 years ago?
k.d. lang: Of course I do. I have very fond memories of it. It was a beautiful night and everyone was so nice.
Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize that you had such a strong Canadian accent. (She laughed again.) Even your laugh has that sweet, Canadian roundness!
Round, ha! (Rownd is how she pronounced it) Ya’ I’m in Canada, right? And I guess it gets stronger when I’m here. I have been noticing it too.
Where exactly are you?
I’m in Thunder Bay, Ontario. We’re here for a few days of rehearsal and then a show as we head out on our North American tour. It’s really cold here today, but I’m used to this sort of weather.
Where do you live these days?
I just bought a house in Portland. I love it there.
I saw that you have a couple shows coming up at the Portland Zoo. Now I know why. What do you think about playing that kind of venue?
It’s extra special for us because it’s not often that we get to play for kids. It is so nice to see them out there in the audience dancing around and stuff. I love kids.
You keep saying “us” because you are traveling with Siss Boom Bang. Tell me about how you wound up traveling with this pack of young guys.
Well, Siss Boom Bang is a band in the purest sense, a real band. When we met, and we all came into a room together for the first time, we all felt this cohesive momentum. There was an instant camaraderie that is quite rare. I wanted to put Siss Boom Bang in the title of the Sing it Loud album because I wanted to include them. I wanted people to notice that we’ve found something together that I feel is very special. [When she spoke of them she had a warmth in her voice that sounded like true love].
Is there something great that came as a result of making Sing It Loud?
I don’t want to sound trite, but it has rejuvenated me in a way. This music and being with these guys has liberated me and given me extra life for years to come.
Truly, I love these guys. I love being with them. We’re such a family. When we’re not rehearsing we’re playing Frisbee or we’re bowling, anything fun. (She pouted) They went bowling last night without me because I was busy and they couldn’t find anything to do. Cindo de Mayo is not a big Canadian holiday so the town was dead!
I read that you struggle with long tours because, among other things, you miss your elderly doggie.
She was very old and she is recently gone. I really miss her.
Well, hell! I’m so sorry. Leave it to the comedian to pull a tear-jerker. I have a 15 year-old dog that I swim with every day. I’m so very sorry.
It is OK. Her name was Saylor. She was so good and special and we also loved swimming in the pool together. Isn’t it amazing to swim with them?
It is. Forgive me. Let me take you back to a happier neighborhood. People are famous for a million different reasons. You are famous because you are wildly talented, strikingly handsome and you make people feel things so deeply.
[She laughed super-hard again, thank gosh]. If you were to ask some of my ex-girlfriends I don’t think they would have appreciated hearing about how I make people feel things deeply! Especially other women, but I know what you mean.
Do you think your music is so emotionally charged because you feel things more deeply than most?
I don’t know how other people feel things. I just know that music is an incredible vehicle for my emotion. Music is my teacher, my portal. Through music I can feel and express sympathy, empathy, humor anything. Music can carry you all the way through a catharsis.
See what I mean? I tap my toe to music, but you are having an entire catharsis!
I’m lucky. I have been bathed in music for my whole life. I wouldn’t say that what people are feeling is me – I’d say they are feeling the music.
Are there a couple showrooms that you hold close to your heart?
I loved playing San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre. I don’t even know if it is still there. [It is]. How I feel about a venue can depend on the weather, the week, or the economy. It can depend on my mood or if I got enough sleep. So many things can affect a show. But something special does happen on certain stages.
To me, The Ryman Auditorium is a precious jewel of a venue. When you walk on that stage, you can feel it overflowing with the essence of all the performers who have played there.
I love The Olympia in Paris, and ooohhh, The Fillmore in SF is a great venue! The history of San Francisco and the beautiful architecture and the views in that town really speak on their own too. But, when you step on the stage at the Fillmore, where so many people have performed on their way up and on their way down, you can feel it. There is something about rooms like that where you can feel the vibe on ya, all greasy and dripping with history.
That is a fabulous image! Do you mind if I ask you some gay, gay questions?
Sure, no problem at all.
Do Lesbian celebrities have dinner parties and BBQ’s with other gay celebrities?
Probably they do, I think they do. But I’m not really like that. I hang out with the same best friends who have been my best friends forever. I’m a Buddhist, so I hang out with my Buddhist friends. I’m all over the place, and I don’t want to disappoint you but, I don’t hang out with that many – wait, my manager is gay. Does that count?
Totally counts. What is the most stereotypically lesbian thing you might find yourself doing?
Oh my God! There are so many lesbianish things I do. I get called ‘sir’ every day. Yesterday, when I got off the plane in Toronto, I went into the washroom at the airport and a group of ladies yelled at me. “Sir, sir, you are in the wrong washroom!”
Did they try to shoo you out?
Exactly … Which didn’t even affect me because it happens every day. Do you want to hear another Lesbianny thing I do?
Well since you didn’t give me any lesbian dinner party gossip, yes. Let’s have another.
I have worn the same Birkenstocks, not the same shoes, but the same style of Birkenstocks for over 20 years. I just keep buying the same old-style shoes. And I love wearing them with socks! No matter how it looks. No matter what people think, and I’m gonna stick to it! People have made fun of me for years for it, but I don’t care. I love it.
Is there a gay character, a gay TV show or movie that you like or that you connect with?
I don’t watch TV. I really don’t. I don’t even really watch movies. Honestly the only TV I watch is NFL. I imagine that there are some gays in there that I don’t know about. I do LOVE watching NFL.
I’m gonna put that under other lesbianish stuff you do.
I listen to a lot of radio. I love KCRW. Which is a public radio station that streams from Santa Monica College that runs NPR news, talk radio and a freeform music format. And I listen to WMLB in Atlanta, which plays a mix of classical music, jazz, folk and a mix of other stuff. I go on my computer.
On the twitter steam on your website, I saw a few tweets from someone named #Buddahlicious. Do you know her?
She tweets a lot. She is really quite knowledgeable and sometimes she gives me very interesting astrological advice. I definitely read it. She seems nice.
That is hysterical. Would people say that you have a good sense of humor?
Yes, in fact I have a new Buddhist joke! Why is there always dust in the corner of a Buddhist Temple? Wait, no. Why isn’t there … OK, I’ve got it. Why doesn’t the Buddhist ever vacuum? Because there are no attachments!
Now I had to laugh politely. I know the joke, and it goes: “I just bought a Buddhist vacuum. It doesn’t come with any attachments.” Luckily k.d. is KILLER at her day job!
(This interview originally appeared HERE.)