Song Of The Day 6/24/2015: k.d. lang – “Wash Me Clean”

Pride Week: When people ask me what’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard – and they do, every once in a great while after everyone’s had enough triple sec – I always tell them it’s… well, to be totally honest, it’s Caetano Veloso's version of the Mexican folk song “Cucurrucucú Paloma.” I don’t think they’re going to top that one. But k.d. lang’s “Wash Me Clean” is a healthy second. I heard it for the first time when she performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. That was either three or five Tonight Show hosts ago, depending on how you’re count. It’s in the fossils. k.d. stopped the show dead in its tracks. I don’t think there’s a purer voice under the Arctic Circle. That’s a lot of land.

“Wash Me Clean” came from Ingénue, k.d.’s 1992 album. Ingénue was a light concept work. The specific concept is a little hard to nail down. An ingénue, of course, is a young woman encumbered by innocence and a certain lack of sophistication. Most of Ingénue exists in a state of pure emotionalism and sensuality: Its moods are all-encompassing, its highs are riveting, and its lows plummet but don’t quite destruct upon impact. k.d. nailed every moment of it. The memory of it hangs around a long time after you’ve forgotten there was an accordion on “Constant Craving,” or that k.d. waxed an ironically frilly character in the video for “Miss Chatelaine” (which I never saw until just a few minutes ago).

There aren’t a lot of albums I like more than Ingénue. Maybe 75, ever. That might sound like a lot, but there’s been a lot of albums released in music history – at least 3,598,785. #76 out of 3,598,785 is a pretty damn good showing.

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