They say true love’s the greatest weapon
To win the war caused by pain, pain
But every diamond has imperfections
But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away
Oh nothing real can be threatened
True love breathes salvation back into me
With every tear came redemption
And my torturer became a remedy
~”All Night Long,” Lemonade, Beyonce
I didn’t expect to be absolutely floored by Beyonce’s album Lemonade…. but I was.
More precisely, by the film, which was the first way I encountered the music. You’ll have to search the dark underbelly of the internet to find a free stream; legitimately, sign up for a free 1-month trial of Tidal and make sure you cancel in time.
Beyonce created an album I’ll be listening to for years. Why?
Because ultimately this album isn’t about infidelity. It’s about forgiveness. Restoration.
I don’t really care so much about the swirling cloud of questions – did Jay-Z cheat on Bey? is this a breakup album? is it just a story? – because nobody has those answers. Story truth is sometimes more real than the actual truth, to reference Tim O’Brien, and in this case, the arc of anger and betrayal in the album melts into a sober-faced reconciliation.
Along the way, Beyonce explores what it means to be a black woman in the USA. I’m not a black woman, so I watched and learned. The mothers of slain black boys hold photos of their sons. The lyrics take us sometimes into the workaday life of a woman trying to hold everything together, or a little girl scarred by the hardness of her father.
How can I watch Lemonade? Did Jay Z cheat on Beyoncé? Who is ‘Becky with the good hair’? Are Jay Z and Beyoncé even married? It’s not too late to catch up
Musically, the album is interesting, fostered by collaborations with a huge variety of artists (ranging as far as Jack White) and plenty of cool samples (including Led Zeppelin’s “The Levee’s Gonna Break”). It would help if you’re a fan of hip hop, or at least capable of appreciation.
But even if you aren’t, find a way to donate an hour toward the film. It’s rough at parts, cutting at parts, raw most of the time, but also honest and beautiful and worth your time.