In an interview with the BBC, Kravitz recalls how he was staying with producer Rick Rubin in Los Angeles, where his mother Roxie Roker was in treatment for breast cancer. Upon receiving the call that she had died, Kravitz encountered Cash and his wife, who were also staying at Rubin’s while Cash recorded American Recordings II: Unchained.
“I was a bit fazed and out of it and the two of them just came up to me and surrounded me and held me … We weren’t lifelong friends. I didn’t know them that long. We were flatmates,” says Kravitz. “They decided at that moment [to] treat me like they would treat someone in their family. It was a beautiful moment of humanity and love.”
In the slow-burning “Johnny Cash,” Kravitz channels the memory, using it as a modern-day plea for compassion, while a flange guitar effect swirls around him. “Just hold me like Johnny Cash / when I lost my mother,” he sings, “whisper in my ear / just like June Carter.”
Kravitz is no stranger to country music. In 2013, he opened the CMT Music Awards in Nashville with Jason Aldean, performing a version of the Guess Who’s “American Woman.” That same week he made a surprise appearance at CMA Music Festival, delivering a lengthy set of his hits to a bewildered crowd.
Raise Vibration, Kravitz’s first album since 2014’s Strut, is out now. He’ll launch a U.S. tour in Atlanta on September 21st.