Golden-voiced singer k.d. lang sighs.
“I’m a veggie burger,” she sighs, “in a McDonald’s world.”
She’s talking about her music that, aside from the 1992 hit “Constant Craving,” rarely gets much commercial radio airplay.
The comment, however, suits other matters in lang’s lively career. She is – as Spin magazine dubbed her – “your typical Canadian vegetarian feminist new wave country-music-singing lesbian.”
Calling from Vancouver where she lives, lang, 34, has pushed buttons in other ways: taping an anti-meat TV spot; appearing on Vanity Fair dressed as a man getting a shave from a scantily clad Cindy Crawford; and, most importantly, being one of the first high-profile entertainers to be open about her homosexuality.
During a month when she’s on the cover of Out magazine, lang downplays the media’s focus on her personal life.
“It’s a temporary focus, just like the vegetarian thing was a focus when it was topical,” she says. “It is who I am, but I’m an artist, first and foremost.”
And no one can deny lang’s gorgeous vocals, whether she’s exploring country’s fringe (as she did early in her career) or providing the lush crooning on her new album, “All You Can Eat.”
“I haven’t even come up with a description of what (the new album) is,” lang says. “I wouldn’t say it’s conventional pop music.”
There’s an uneasy relationship between lang and her fame.
She calls “Constant Craving” “my least favorite song (on `Ingenue’) so I was probably aware of its commercial potential.”
Later she says her mood toward the song has changed.
“It’s a fantastic thing to have a hit and have the audience sit there and sing it.”
Although she enjoys some trappings of fame (like doing a hilarious guest stint on HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show,” for instance), she’s upset by radio programmers who expected a followup similar to “Constant Craving.”
“I always like a challenge,” she says, “so I would have liked (the hit) to have been the most oddball thing rather than the most obvious one. But I guess that’s not the way it works.”
Wednesday’s show will include every cut from “All You Can Eat,” a good portion of “Ingenue” and a few country numbers. She says she’s happy to see the Madison date on her schedule, especially since it’s the smallest city included on a two-month tour.
This is lang’s third appearance at the Civic Center after popular shows there in ’89 and ’92.
For the first time, lang won’t have Ben Mink in her tour band. Although he co-produced lang’s “All You Can Eat,” Mink opted to remain with his family rather than go on the road.
“He’s really my creative alter ego,” she says. “He’s been someone who’s pushed me and helped me make the shifts in musical direction.”