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Let the Sound Bring Me Back

I admit I’m in love with Lady Gaga. I know, it’s silly to say it, and of course when I say, “in love,” I mean something more than a foolish fantasy.

I’m convinced she has one of the purest voices of today’s crowded talent of musicians and performers. When she sang the National Anthem (you can see it on youtube) in 2016 at Super Bowl 50, I was mesmerized. Patriotism and all the pseudo hype that goes with it these days falls flat for me most of the time. But her performance made me want to cheer or salute or something. It was a powerful moment.

Her song, “Joanne,” which she performed at last Sunday’s Grammys, was dedicated, she said, to her father’s sister, Joanne. Again, it was sung with so much passion and precision, while she played the piano and was accompanied on guitar by her album producer Mark Ronson.

In spite of her past outrageous outfits, masks, wigs, get-ups, and other brazen acts of defiance, protest, or whatever else she was feeling at the time, she remains a phenomenal artist. She has moved away from a lot of that gaudiness and admits she has grown as a person and a performer. And she says a lot of the crazy costumes she used to wear were often to cover up a deep sense of inferiority. They were a way of hiding behind a façade of boldness and extravagance.

Last year Netflix showed a documentary on Lady Gaga titled, “Five Foot Two.” In it she is seen in all of her humanity as well as her star power. There is a beautiful vulnerability in her that is clearly seen in the film. Most people probably don’t know that she suffers from nagging pain from a broken hip while performing a few years ago. She also suffers periodically from fibromyalgia, a muscle and connective tissue ailment that often leaves the patient in debilitating pain. And she is not ashamed to say she has struggled with depression and alcohol abuse. None of it, though, keeps her from performing at stunning levels of competence and skill.

I find Lady Gaga to be one of those unique celebrities who truly loves what she does. She claims her family and her music are her life, though she laments the fact that her hectic schedule often keeps her long periods away from those she loves. And it has often interfered with her personal life having left behind three major breakups with men she loved.

We often forget, when we see the huge sums of money celebrities make, that they are still real people not much different from the rest of us, except for their wealth and fame. But that often comes with an exacting cost in terms of privacy, relationships, as well as physical and emotional health. Many of them burn out or destroy their lives with out of control addictions.

“I just want to make music and make people happy,” Gaga says in the documentary. In one of the interviews in the film she says, “I never felt comfortable enough to sing and just be the way I am now. To just sing, wear my hair back. I never felt pretty enough or smart enough or a good enough musician…The good part is…now I do.”

Let that affirm anyone out there hesitant about their talents or abilities. If Lady Gaga can admit her fears and win through them, why can't any of us?

She once said to her fans, 
“I want the deepest, darkest, sickest parts of you that you are afraid to share with anyone because I love you that much.” Her honesty is fierce. Her humanity is real. Her passion is fearless.

Entertainers serve a crucial service for us, especially in times when the world seems spinning off its axis and our own country teeters on some scary edge of catastrophe. Music can be our refuge. It can console, inspire, and lift us into needed moments of ecstasy, dreams, endurance, and love.

As Lady Gaga sings in her song, “Words,” – “Let the sound bring me back / Sounds have no regrets / And before you know it / I’ll take your words and be gone / Right to the stars and beyond.”

© 2018 Timothy Moody


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