“Constant Craving” by k.d. lang
It’s interesting that The Hinoeuma chose a song by Sarah McLachlan for her Round 8 singles draft, because I’ve also chosen a song by another silky-voiced Canadian artist, “Constant Craving” by k.d. lang. Like McLachlan, lang is a mezzo-soprano with a gorgeous and clear singing voice that’s as close to perfect as any female vocalist I can think of. Born Kathryn Dawn Lang in 1961 in Edmonton, Canada, she’s had a successful career as a solo artist, and has also collaborated with the likes of Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Elton John, The Killers, Anne Murray and Ann Wilson, among others. She started out as a country singer, but eventually transitioned to a more pop-oriented sound. She’s won Juno and Grammy Awards, and is a long-time animal rights, gay rights, and Tibetan human rights activist. Lang has been openly lesbian since 1992.
“Constant Craving” was co-written by lang and Ben Mink, and is included on her beautiful second album Ingénue. The song was released in 1992 and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1993, as well as an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video. The song peaked at #8 on the Canadian singles chart, but only #38 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is a travesty. I think it should have been a #1 hit, and is my favorite song of 1992, a year that pop music went over a cliff, as far as I’m concerned. (Some of the biggest hits that year were “I’m Too Sexy”, “Baby Got Back”, “Jump” [by Kriss Kross] and the insipid Boyz II Men snooze fest “End of the Road”.)
The stunning song features lang’s beautiful vocal harmonies layered over strummed and twangy acoustic guitars, accompanied by a gentle accordion riff and delicate xylophones that give the song both a slight country and charming French vibe. In fact, the black and white video produced for the song, and directed by Mark Romanek, presents an artistic recreation of the premiere of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot in Paris, 1953.
As to her inspiration for writing the song, lang later told the producers of Balletlujah (a 2014 documentary about lang and the portrait ballet based on her life and music): “I was sitting at my house at my typewriter, and in my head I heard the phrase ‘constant craving’. When I wrote it, I felt it deeply, but I honestly can’t tell you what I was craving at the time. Sex? Love? Something cold to drink? I don’t remember. As a Buddhist I struggle with desire, but sometimes I just embrace it. Acknowledging it, contemplating it, and making friends with it is one of my lifelong journeys.”