Soundtrack of My Life: The Lenny Kravitz Edition
The day Let Love Rule was released, September 1, 1989, was the day before I turned eighteen.
I spent it moving into a cinderblock dorm room at the University of Rhode Island, roughly 500 square feet that I'd share with two complete strangers, along with their even stranger boyfriends. I'm sure someone on campus was more than diggin' the first album by Lenny Kravitz, but I was far to busy adapting to my current hell to notice.
Besides, my zippered nylon cassette case was at capacity--filled to the brim with 1980's teenage angst: The Cure, Depeche Mode, Tracy Chapman, Indigo Girls, and, yes, Milli Vanilli, you know, in case things happened to get too dark. (Snicker if you must, but Rob Pilatus, lip syncher or not, was amazingly beautiful.)
Years past, before I gave LK a second glance. I'm guessing I heard 'Fly Away' on the radio, which led me to the sheer perfection that is the album 5. And once again, Lenny shows up on the scene on one of the biggest days of my life. My first LK concert was in May, 1999 on the day I gave my two weeks notice to a job that I hated, so I could start freelance writing full time. Three weeks after that I got married.
Good vibes indeed.
I wish I could say that I became a better LK fan from there. Oh, I tried. But stuff got in the way. Like too many neo-soul artists to count. And that cover of Baptism. Straightened hair and bloody bathtub at the same time? Too much. But with his ninth studio album, Black and White America, Lenny Kravitz had me at hello.
Well sort of. He had me at this:
"In 1963, my father married (a black woman)
And when they walked the streets they were in danger (look what 'cha done)
But they just kept on walking forward hand in hand."
For me, this is where it gets personal. Not because of my parents--two blondes, 1967--but because of me. You'd think that after twenty solid years with my husband André, an outstanding chap, who just happens to be black, the color of our skin, together or separate, would be a non-issue. But for the times that it's not, Lenny's outstandingly beautiful sentiment of 'they just kept on walking forward hand in hand' touches my heart.
Onto another milestone, and yes, more Lenny. On September 2, 2011, my 40th birthday, I was fortunate enough to welcome LK back onto the musical scene, thanks to one very generous friend and fellow Virgo, Kristine, who invited me to his celebration on the Today Show. Or as I like to think of it, Lenny showed up as a special invited guest to my nationally televised birthday party.
Regardless, last Friday night, it just seemed fitting that André and I would be belly up to the stage in Boston, as Lenny Kravitz kicked off the US leg of his Black and White America tour. And in between the intense sound of tracks like 'Come On Get It', 'Always On the Run' and 'Mr. Cab Driver', I wondered why I hadn't come here more often.
Not literally here, of course. This particular experience, within the 'DNA zone' as André called it, where droplets of Lenny's saliva, sweat or a combination of the two flowed freely in the air, directly above my head, cannot be replicated.
(Don't worry, sir, no apology necessary. These things surely happen within that level of exertion.)
I mean here, as in a place of both true awe and thankfulness for the outrageous talent of Lenny and his crew, including Mr. Craig Ross, who should be a household name. LK performed with such an intense showmanship, passion, energy and clear love for his craft, you'd have no inkling that the US crowds are a whole lot smaller than what he's used to.
Newsflash: LK sells out stadiums in Europe. And France? They bestowed the Legion of Honor on him.
Hello! What is up with us, America?!
I wish I knew how to change this. But I don't. So all I can say is thank you, Lenny Kravitz, for not seeing boundaries, musical or otherwise. For successfully creating your magical, one of a kind version of funk, with layered rock riffs, keys, horns, drums, and that voice, which just continues to get more powerful.
But above all, thank you for making no apologies for who you are.
Until next time: Let Love Rule, baby. Let Love Rule.