I can’t stop playing this new song from k.d. lang and her new band, the Siss Boom Bang.
Oh where do I even start with the awesome? The rockabilly bright colors? The fishnets? The red tie under the cowboy-style suit? k.d.’s eager and precise guitar strumming? How about the girl couple which borders on the butch/femme side — at least, we’ve got one androgynous genderqueer type and one in a skirt, eventually playing in a car wash and getting all soapy and wet — and that’s not even to mention k.d.’s delicious expressions that go from ravenous to snarling to aching, all in a couple of frames.
So she’s got a new band, and her voice is just the perfection you’d expect, except maybe a little bit more gruff and even more aged in a beautiful tough way, and her hair is shorter than I’ve ever seen it. In short, good lord I hope I look and sound that good at 50.
I don’t know how k.d. feels about the label of “butch,” but clearly she’s got a masculine of center aesthetic. She’s been wearing men’s clothes and keeping her hair short for decades, and has long been revered as an icon of that badass swagger.
But still, I don’t know if she’s ever looked as good as she does in this new video. I stumbled upon some of her older videos on the newly revamped kdlang.com and got to thinking about butch identity through the last two decades, and how things are evolving.
It isn’t that she didn’t used to present quite “as butch” as she does now — she has always been butch, has always been masculine, and in fact that has been part of her appeal. I wonder if she has been a representation of the cultural norms for butchness, and if perhaps butch — and masculine of center identities in general—are simply evolving to be more and more attractive, dapper, and intentional than they used to be?