Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lady Gaga

It was one of those extraordinary moments in sport, when the Patriots came in from virtually nowhere to beat the Falcons last Sunday. It definitely left plenty of broken hearts here in Atlanta, but I guess, this is exactly the strange and mysterious lure any game has on its followers. Its unpredictability, to spin up the unexpected in the most normal of times. Some may attribute the victory to the genius of one Man, but in all fairness, Falcon’s couldn't finish the game they started so well. It is possible the pressure, the stage and their incredible closeness to victory paralyzed their free flow of sporting energy. And in that frail moment of weakness and indecision, the Patriots swooped in, stole the cup from under their very noses.
The game fascinated me, no doubt, but what fascinated me even more was the brief 15 minute performance by Lady Gaga ( born as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta). As I watched her float down the stadium , decked in her florescent garment, mike in hand , and booming vocals that reverberated with energy and confidence, I could not but admire the career and spirit of this fantastic singer-performer, who for me, epitomizes the artistic consummation of an American singer. In the west, singers cannot merely sing and get away with it, they have to be performers on stage. They are loved not only for the music they make, but for their entire personality. The way they dress, the way they talk, the society they move in, the cars and houses they possess, their rebellious acts of outrage - all of them are factored into the career of an artist to achieve greatness and immortality. Fame has a different meaning in the West. Except for few genres , where it is alright only to record albums with the comfort of closed studio, for most part singers have to perform under the glare of the public eye, and it is there they seek their name and salvation. And in that sense, Lady gaga has more or less mastered the art of public image for the last decade or so she has been in business.
Over the years, I have been following her work. You cannot afford not to, considering she is constantly in the news and always performing. Her metamorphosis from a young girl a decade ago striving to find her footing in an adult music world to a woman of extraordinary self possession , confidence and firmness of purpose ; reinventing herself into different musical avatars each time she steps on to the stage is fascinating, and scary sometimes. She transforms herself completely for every piece of music she makes. To each song, she brings in a megalomaniacal focus and dedication that makes one want to respect her even if the song is not particularly pleasing to the ears, or her presentation of it is outrageous. Her presence on stage is electric and authentic. One can see her self-belief shine through in flesh and blood, even if it lies buried underneath layers of paint and reams of garments she wears.
A few years ago, during our official annual day on board a boat in Chicago, a very senior member drew our attention to Lady Gaga’s performance on a cold wintery night in Newyork. In that blistering chilly wind, with sub zero temperatures, Lady gaga dressed in light transparent outfit with elongated head gears, performed for two hours without flinching or dropping a single note. The speaker said he was spell bound by her singular commitment. Very true!! thats the word which come to mind, when we think of Lady gaga. Commitment and perfection. She is one of few singers in the industry who does not lip-sync while on stage and prefers to use her own vocals. In such a case, it was almost an impossible act to sing on the freezing stage, but she did that day in Newyork with style and grace.
The other important part of Lady Gaga’s success is her meticulous preparation for a show. A month ago, I wrote about another artist, who could not sing in her own voice even for fifteen minutes during new years eve, despite having one one of the best voices in the industry. She simply wasn't prepared. But with Lady gaga, with every show, every meticulous detail is carefully drawn out, and in her ten years of stage performance in diverse contexts and circumstances, never once has she faltered in her execution. She has a fanatical attention to detail. Last year, during the annual fashion show of lingerie created by the house of Victoria Paris, she led the gorgeous models onto the ramp with her popular “One in a million” song. Clad in a sumptuous translucent gown printed with rose petals, mellowed, with nothing of her usual pyrotechnics, she lifted the moment to an ethereal space, where her deep vocals coupled with the limpid grace of girls who cat walked formed together, for twenty odd minutes, a paradise of idealistic beatitude - a glimpse of Eden perhaps, as God would have conceived in his pristine moment of awakening. Such was the brilliance of her orchestration and execution on stage.
It was a fitting interlude to the super bowl 2017. A great game and a great performance by a great performer. However, One of the enduring images for me of Lady Gaga would be the picture of her sitting alongside the revered Dalai lama conducting an interview last year. There cannot be two more contrasting people together on a single podium. One ,a man of great humor and spiritual depth, the other a young girl clad in cut jeans and powdered face. Yet, both of them vibed tremendously well. In one of the striking moments during that interview The Dalai lama jokingly told Lady Gaga
“I’m one 81-year-old person with quite a lot of experiences, My experiences much bigger than your experiences….”
Without missing a beat, Lady gaga instinctively responded with equal depth and sincerity. She replied :
“You didn’t know this, but I’m much older than you.”
In that single remark she revealed a depth far greater than her outward persona would seem to suggest.
God bless….
yours in mortality,

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