In 1992, k.d. lang released her second solo album, Ingénue. That amazing voice singing about Constant Craving nudged the album to double platinum and unusual for lang, radio airplay. It also had lang breaking new ground. That voice was about much more, because lang, a small-town Canadian gal, was about to become a Gay Icon, and Ingénue, a cultural and artistic turning point, changing the world by being herself.
Ingénue was lang’s first all-original album. She co-wrote most of the songs with her longtime collaborator and bandleader, Ben Mink, with the songs written in a week and a half. Miss Chatelaine was written in 15 minutes. The sound was something new and different; normal on the surface, very strange underneath and carefully non-gender-specific. Ingénue is head over heels in love with love and sex, lusty but cool.
The gorgeous first track, Save Me was lang’s transition from country singer to pop crooner. A few months after Ingénue was released, lang came out of the closet on the cover of The Advocate. In the interview, lang revealed that Ingénue was inspired by her love affair with a married woman, and that Constant Craving was about all forms of love, not just human sexual desire.
“When I talk about unfulfilled desire, it’s not just human physical love. It’s the love I feel for animals; it’s the love I feel for trees.”
Miss Chatelaine is a sly send-up of gender expectations. Lang fully embraced the character of Miss Chatelaine in the video version, a tongue-in-cheek, ultra-femme tribute to The Lawrence Welk Show, surrounded by bright pastel colors and a profusion of bubbles, complete with an accordion accompaniment.
In support of the album, lang gave an incredible performance of Miss Chatelaine on The Arsenio Hall Show, complete with a full orchestra, a chaise lounge, a bubble machine and a formal gown. In the interview segment afterwards, Hall calls out the audience’s reluctant applause for lang’s support for Gay Rights and Animal Rights.
“lang’s a secret weapon; she’s a freedom fighter for the oppressed, and animals are on the bottom rung. If she can get into the mainstream, then she’s getting the message through and having a great, positive influence.”
Lang was also nominated for several Grammy Awards for Ingénue including Best Album, Best Song, and Record Of The Year. She won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Constant Craving. Ingénue is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
David Bowie wrote:
“lang is fast emerging as the classiest, most stylish performer of the 1990s.”
Last week, Nonesuch Records released Ingénue: 25th Anniversary Edition. The new two-disc set includes remastered versions of the album’s original 10 tracks, and the second disc features eight previously unreleased performances from lang’s 1993 MTV Unplugged episode. Lang, who now resides in my city of Portland, marks the album’s anniversary with the Ingénue Redux Tour, with concerts in Australia this month and in Canada in August.