Helplessly Craving a Singer’s Identity

A few days ago, a snippet of female vocal popped into my head. No words, no tune, not even a hook, only a held note. Just enough to make me feel I should have been able to recognize the singer.

Not sure what triggered it, but for some then unknown reason my mind connected the snippet to Crosby, Stills & Nash‘s “Helplessly Hoping,” even though that song does not feature a female voice.

The two songs were so closely linked in my mind that calling up the title of the one fluidly segued into the brief snippet of the other. What was the connection?

Was she a singer associated with CSN? I ran through various females associated with the Laurel Canyon sound: Joni Mitchell? Nope. Linda Ronstadt? Carole King? One of the Mamas, Michelle Phillips or Cass Elliot? Judee Sill? Jackie DeShannon? Nope, none of those.

The voice did not have that wispy folky sound at all. It was a more substantial voice, torchier, but modern torch, not ’40s, film noir torch. So I ran through some recent practitioners: Adele? Nope? Amy Winehouse? Lana Del Rey? Duffy?  Nope, none of those.

They seemed too new. But “Helplessly Hoping” and that snippet of a female voice kept popping into my head, mostly late at night after I’d turned off the TV and was reading in the late night quiet.

Finally, after days of the loop playing in my head, it just came to me. The singer was k.d. lang and the song was “Constant Craving”:

I didn’t even need to listen to the song to confirm it. I just knew. I started laughing at the associative process of my mind, immediately seeing the obvious connection that had eluded me. Both songs have alliterative titles, even if the opening consonants were different, H and C. And both of the titles refer to the same thing, being in thrall to an unrequited love.

I then played the song after all because, well, it’s a great song.


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