October 6, 2005
Lauryn Hill, Central Park, 10/6/05
Only in New York can you saunter 3 hours late into a free concert in the park, go right to the front of the stage, and see Slum village followed by Scarlett Johansson and Al Gore warming up the crowd for Fishbone (who killed it), followed by De La Soul, followed by an impromptu set from Lauryn Hill ("I wasn't planning to anything musical tonight, but just now I changed my mind"), all in the span of an hour or so.
And Lauryn. I've probably cracked more than my share of jokes about her descent into weirdness. But even carrying all that baggage (plus another questionably tuned guitar), when she walks out onto an empty stage, sits down in front of you and starts to sing, it is nothing less than heart-stopping.
In fact I think it's all that baggage that helps make it so intense now.. because no matter how much any of us makes fun of her misadventures, how could we not be rooting for Lauryn? Watching an artist so beautiful in every sense go through all these trials and tribulations until I wonder whether she'll ever regain her stride, if I'll ever even see her perform again at all.. at this point anytime I see her walk out there I'm on th edge of my seat rooting with all my heart for her to do well..
for her to show us that she's happy and healthy again, that she's at peace with herself and ready to shine.. and then she here she comes with that voice, and it's so powerful and plaintive and yearning, yearning for all those same things we're rooting so hard for her to find.. all the same things, in the end, that we're each yearning to find in ourselves.. It adds up to quite a powerful moment.
And then she puts down the guitar, cues the DJ and spits motherf**king LOST ONES!! WHAT!?!???
Only two songs, but probably the most memorable performance I've seen this year.