IMAGINE YOU’RE IN New Orleans with a few friends, lying on your back and getting your nose pierced. “There’s a little blood,” the piercing queen says reassuringly. “That’s good. It means it will heal soon.” You open your eyes, and Lenny Kravitz is hovering over you, dreadlocks tickling your chin. “It looks good,” he informs you with a sincere smile. You grin weakly.
Kravitz is wandering among the booths in Rings of Desire, having just given the seal of approval to a nervous, newly punctured college kid. It’s not clear how often he comes here to inspect the work, but by the time he leaves, he has plans to have dinner that night with half the staff. Kravitz is a social dandy, flitting from art gallery to piercing parlor, making more plans and friends than he has time for. By the end of one day together, he has promised me that the next afternoon we’ll go to Mother’s Restaurant for a shrimp poor boy, spend time with Crescent City R&B great Allen Toussaint, have a salmon dinner (cooked by Kravitz), rummage through his record collection to find Earth, Wind and Fire albums and, of course, get our nipples pierced.
“It doesn’t hurt at all –– actually, it feels really good,” Kravitz says, looking down at his right nipple with a wicked smile.
Kravitz is an outsider in the world of pop. He makes music that acknowledges that technology has improved since the ’70s but refuses to admit that music has progressed. From his first album, 1989’s Let Love Rule, to his newest, Circus, Kravitz has always pledged allegiance to 1969. His detractors write him off as a throwback, a pretender in flashy retro garb riding to success on the back of a few Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix riffs. Kravitz’s argument is that everything you hear on his records and see at his concerts was determined in the first few years of his life –– not just the clothes but his musical proclivities, his vegetarianism, his refusal to wear underwear and his religious obsessions.
To find out which of these is the true Lenny Kravitz, it’s necessary to examine the many pieces that make up the man.
LENNY THE CLOTHESHORSE
TODAY, KRAVITZ IS WEARING BROWN suede bell-bottoms with leather laces up the sides, exposing flesh where underpants should be. Those are topped by a second-hand hockey jersey that’s tight enough to show off a well-defined chest. It’s easy to poke fun at Kravitz for dressing like he just stepped off the runway at a Woodstock fashion show, but he won’t stand for it. He walks back from the piercing parlor to his French Quarter home, a 200-year-old spread that he bought last year, and marches upstairs. He comes down with his junior high school graduation photograph, proof that he has always dressed the way he dresses now.
“No, I couldn’t just wear a regular suit at graduation –– I had to wear ruffles and frills,” he says, pointing at the picture of an angel-faced kid wearing the exact same vintage brown the 31-year-old Kravitz is wearing today. “I mean, in the third grade I had a pair of suede chaps. I had some cool clothes. My mom knew where to shop. I had the big shirts with the sleeves that puff out and come back. Knickers, man. My mom bought the stuff, not me. I remember my fourth-grade or third-grade school picture. I was wearing a pair of jeans with patchwork and cool sneakers and a big ol’ Michael Jackson shirt with a peace sign around my neck, and that was just normal.”
Kravitz isn’t defending himself anymore. He’s bragging.
LENNY THE MYSTIC
KRAVITZ’S HOME IS SOMETHING OF A shrine. An inconspicuous wooden door off the street leads to a leafy courtyard with a working fountain. On the top floor of the house are Kravitz’s private quarters, a red-and-blue-lit bedroom and bathroom so sultry and plush that it would take the glow of a hundred lava lamps to approximate the mood they evoke. On the ground floor there are glass doors, black lighting, a framed pair of purple bell-bottoms that once belonged to Jimi Hendrix (who probably wore underwear) and a makeshift altar surrounded by metal crosses, pictures of Christ and candles. There’s even a giant wooden crucifix hanging over the toilet in Kravitz’s bathroom.
“I lit a candle there the other day,” Kravitz says. “I mean at the altar, not in the bathroom.”
Kravitz has had a need for religion, to believe in something that can be neither created nor destroyed, since the age of 5. “I had these really weird recurring dreams then,” he says, moving from the altar to his patio. “I’d be put in a casket. I wasn’t alive. I was dead, I suppose, but I could still see. They’d put the top on the thing, and then they’d lower it into the ground. And then the dirt. And I would wake up with the bed full of sweat, screaming. Later I figured out that I couldn’t deal with the concept of death –– that we’re born, and then we die, and that’s it. It didn’t make sense. So that was the beginning of me believing that our souls are eternal.
“Then when I was 13, somebody talked to me –– this kid that I knew whose father was a minister,” Kravitz says. “He started telling me about God and Christ, and then I got this feeling over me that was just like I knew what I was hearing was correct.”
Religion permeates Circus so thoroughly, in fact, that there has been speculation that Kravitz has become a born-again Christian. Even in “Beyond the 7th Sky,” when Kravitz gets slow and funky to whisper sweet nothings to a lover, Jesus intrudes. “Let’s take it to the place where life was formed/And to the place where Jesus Christ was born,” Kravitz sings, getting immaculate with his lover.
“That song is just me taking it to this infinite place where it’s beyond everything,” Kravitz says. “This house is going to crumble, and everything’s going to go away, but the spirit is eternal. It’s always been here and always will be here, and you can’t get rid of that energy. When I say,’The place where Jesus Christ was born,’ it’s just a place with no beginning and no end.”
Does that mean Kravitz is born again? “I believe in Christ, but I’m not a part of any particular church,” Kravitz says. “I like to have a completely personal relationship with God. I don’t think you need to go to an altar or a church to worship him. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with church.”
Kravitz pauses and laughs. “Well, there is something wrong with a lot of churches, though I actually went to one a few weeks ago in New York because I hadn’t gone in a long time,” he says. “A friend took me over to this Times Square church. It was pretty cool. It was laid-back. The doctrine seemed to be in order.”
LENNY THE SCREENWRITER
DESPITE THE ULTIMATE PICKUP LINE in “Beyond the 7th Sky” as well as Kravitz’s new tattoo, which says, MY HEART BELONGS TO JESUS CHRIST, Circus is an aborted attempt at something far different from a sermon.
“You’re the first person I’m telling this to,” Kravitz says, scooting his chair forward. “When I was thinking about this album, I wanted it to be kind of like a rock gospel. When I was younger, there were all these great plays like Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, and I saw the music taking on a very theater-type vibe. So I started writing, and I called my manager halfway into the album and said, ‘I want to make a movie.’ And he basically hung up on me. So that didn’t happen.”
Kravitz pauses while a couple of his many house guests sit down at the patio table. Currently crammed into his two-bedroom pad are a pair of childhood friends and two lucky girls he met while recording in New Jersey.
Kravitz continues explaining his electric gospel. It’s hard to piece together a plot by listening to Circus, he says, but it was supposed to go something like this: “It was kind of like a surreal rock & roll fantasy thing –– like The Wall but with a Clockwork Orange kind of feel. It was basically about this rock star who is the biggest rock star in the world, huge beyond compare. He has had everything, done everything –– every pleasure –– and cannot go any further. And then one night in the middle of a drug feast and an orgy, he has a spiritual awakening. Then it goes back into the past and shows everything that happened, how he got to where he got and the characters around him: His manager [and] his girlfriend, Magdalene –– there’s a song about her on the album. There’s a whole new world order involved in the story, but you don’t know whether it’s past, present, future or what. The government at that time doesn’t allow you to have any concept of God because they’re pushing this antichrist-type character as being God. And through him they manipulate all the people on the earth.”
The idea for this Orwellian rock fantasy came to Kravitz in an Italian hotel. As soon as it did, he shut himself in his room and spent three days writing. He had the scenes, the camera angles, everything figured out. Even the stars: Kravitz would, of course, play the megalomaniacal rock star turned messiah. Samuel L. Jackson would play his manager, whose story (that of a cutthroat ghetto kid who gets into the music industry by selling cocaine to record labels) is told in “Thin Ice” on Circus.
“I might finish this whole thing later,” Kravitz muses. “Then again, maybe I’ll be doing something else. It’s the Gemini part of me. I’m so damned schizoid.”
LENNY THE RIFF ROBBER
ROLLING STONE: “This might piss you off, but…”
KRAVITZ: “Go for it.”
RS: “That song ‘Rock & Roll Is Dead’ begins with this riff that sounds exactly like Led Zeppelin’s ‘Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman).'”
KRAVITZ: “You mean the first line in the song?”
RS: “No, the guitar part and then that Robert Plant yowl you do. I was wondering whether you were making a joke by singing, ‘Rock & roll is dead,’ in a song based on a Led Zeppelin riff that everybody still steals.”
KRAVITZ: “No, it’s just a riff that I came up with.”
RS: “You came up with it on your own?”
KRAVITZ: “Yeah. I mean, you know.”
RS: “I suppose people are always thinking your riffs came from elsewhere.”
KRAVITZ: “That’s all right. How many riffs are there? Every riff you could say sounds like something else.”
RS: “I suppose, but some riffs sound more like past riffs than others.”
KRAVITZ: “It’s just the blues, really.”
RS: “So you don’t think the introduction to that song sounds anything like ‘Living Loving Maid’?”
KRAVITZ: “No, I mean, I think it has a Zeppelin-type quality. Oh, I don’t know. Let’s not talk about it.”
LENNY THE GOOD SON
SHANNON, KRAVITZ’S PERSONAL assistant and a pal from junior high (he appears in the graduation photo Kravitz was showing off), comes to the rescue with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Kravitz downs it, and then we head out of the house. Our destination is the Hall-Barnett Gallery, where he wants to buy some curios to decorate his home.
Kravitz has become New Orleans’ latest celebrity resident. This is apparent when he passes a group of old men sitting on the stoop of a decaying brownstone. “Fellas,” says one man in a blue cap, “I want you to meet Sy’s son.”
“How did your dad’s heart operation go?” asks another.
Kravitz was born into entertainment aristocracy. Sy Kravitz was a white Jewish producer at NBC. Lenny’s mom, Roxie Roker, was an off-Broadway and television actress. She’s best known for her role as Helen Willis, the butt of George’s interracial-couple jokes on The Jeffersons. For her to do the show, the family had to move from New York, where 12-year-old Lenny split his time between his parents’ Upper East Side apartment and his grandparents’ place in the Bedford-Stuyvesent section of Brooklyn, to a well-to-do black neighborhood of Los Angeles known, Kravitz says, as the Golden Ghetto.
As he walks, Kravitz talks about how some of the greatest theater in New York was presented by the troupe his mother used to be in, the Negro Ensemble Company; how he has never been the same since the first concert his folks took him to (the Jackson 5); and how his family used to have house guests like Duke Ellington and the writer Toni Morrison.
Kravitz passes a gallery with a large statue of Miles Davis in the window and stops in to ask the price, introducing himself to the gallery attendant as “just Lenny.” The sculpture costs $68,000. “He wasn’t that big,” Kravitz says about the replica’s dimensions. “I used to hang out with him. I mean the man, not the statue.”
Despite what Kravitz paints as a dream childhood (which included acting gigs on everything from a Bill Cosby special to a Burger King commercial), he left home when he was a sophomore at Beverly Hills High. “It wasn’t that they didn’t want me there,” he says. “It was that I just decided that I needed to go out and do my thing. I didn’t want to live under the rules that took place under that roof. Basically I lived in friends’ houses, recording studios, cars.”
Cars? “There was this place in L.A. where for $4.99 you could rent a stick Ford Escort or a Pinto,” Kravitz says. “So I would rent this car, and I would basically just park wherever I wanted. It was a hatchback, so I had all my stuff in the back: guitar, clothes, food. A lot of times I used to park outside my girlfriend’s house, and I used to sleep out in front of her place. Her parents, they knew I stayed out there sometimes, I guess. One day I got in a fight with my girlfriend, and I slammed the door on the driver’s side and shattered the window. So then I was sleeping outside in the car with no window, and that wasn’t so good because it was too hard to fall into a deep sleep because you were right there, exposed.”
Kravitz pauses and catches his breath. “I can’t believe I did all that,” he says as two tourists pause and one cautiously asks, “Excuse me, but are you related to anybody named Lenny?”
Leaving his parents also meant working for a living. Kravitz gravitated toward jobs that smelled bad: cutting and gutting in a “you buy, we fry” fish market, working in a shoe store, washing dishes at a macrobiotic restaurant.
Kravitz is still on good terms with his parents, who are now divorced. He talks to his mother all the time, and when Lenny is traveling, his father stays at his house. Kravitz has also found a surrogate father in New Orleans. His name is Howard Barnett, a world traveler and intellectual dandy recovering from a recent heart attack Ènd stroke. Barnett and his wife are also the proprietors of the Hall-Barnett Gallery, where Kravitz is about to spend thousands of dollars.
Barnett leads Kravitz through the gallery, picking out objects that might suit his customer –– a Malian tree ladder, a 19th-century French meat cleaver, a welding mask from the ’30s, a gnarled, wooden African cane, an 18th-century spiked dog collar and a wax model of a syphilitic vagina. With the exception of the latter item, Kravitz buys all these and more. He wants to use them to make a collage on one of his home’s bare brick walls.
Kravitz and Barnett have a great relationship. They joke about Michael Jackson’s new album (“About time he got angry,” says Kravitz) and crawfish bread (“That stuff was so good, it made me want to run home and slap my mama”). They could almost be father and son.
LENNY THE LOVER
OUTSIDE THE GALLERY, KRAVITZ AND Barnett run into a mutual friend, who drives them (and Kravitz’s hair stylist, who has somehow joined the ever-growing entourage) back to Barnett’s house. It’s a beautiful Italian-style villa in Uptown New Orleans; it’s filled from floor to ceiling with oddities collected by Barnett and his wife, Ann, a Southern belle whose portrait, silk-screened by Andy Warhol, hangs on the wall.
As Howard Barnett shows guests the house’s his-and-hers bathrooms, which are connected by a shower room the size of a swimming pool, Ann corners Kravitz in the kitchen.
“You’re so gorgeous,” Ann purrs. Kravitz just stands there, politely absorbing the compliment.
“You’ve got a beautiful face,” Ann continues, reaching out to touch it. “All the girls must love you.”
As if on cue, two Chinese pug dogs waddle into the room, and Kravitz breaks the tension by crouching to pet them. With Kravitz’s proclivity for working with young, scrawny female singers like Vanessa Paradis and Brandy, he’s earned himself a reputation as a sexual dynamo and a friend to waifs everywhere. But the truth is, his heart belongs to one lady. This becomes clear later when he’s on the Barnetts’ staircase looking through a large, handmade book full of watercolor paintings.
“Lisa used to make these for me,”Kravitz says with a sigh.
Lisa, of course, is Lisa Bonet, not just Kravitz’s ex-wife but his soul mate. “She was like a female version of me,” he says. “We were complete mirror images of each other. It was unbelievable.”
The two met backstage at a New Edition concert, when Bonet was dating a music executive and Kravitz was a struggling nobody. They became friends, moved in together as roommates after a couple years, then started going out, got married and had a baby girl. The story is old news now to everyone but Kravitz. “Lisa was doing her Cosby Show, and people called me Mr. Bonet, and I didn’t care –– I didn’t care at all,” he says. “That woman inspired me so much. It was a magical time that she and I shared. I just opened up artistically. Forget The Cosby Show and all that –– the woman is ridiculously creative.”
Kravitz blossomed with Bonet, writing (with her assisting on two songs) and recording his first album, Let Love Rule. Some called the album naive; they didn’t say that about Kravitz’s follow-up, Mama Said, written in the throes of his and Bonet’s painful divorce. Mama Said is imbued with the hope that the word over is only a temporary state and that relationships –– like the human soul –– are eternal.
“I was in a tremendous amount of pain when we broke up, tremendous,” Kravitz says, drifting around the Barnetts’ museum of a house. “For, like, six months, I only slept for two hours a day, from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. The rest of the time I was just up, like a zombie. I was floored. The album was my way of releasing it somehow.”
Suddenly, Kravitz stops. He has wandered into Ann Barnett’s giant walk-in wardrobe. “What an interview,” he exclaims. “We’re in a closet!”
LENNY THE FATHER
ON KRAVITZ’S RIGHT FOREARM THERE are two tattoos. One reads ZOË, the name of his 6-year-old daughter, who lives in L.A. with Bonet. The other tattoo is unreadable. It looks like a gnarled cross, but it’s actually a Magic Marker doodle of Zoë’s preserved in tattoo ink.
“God, I love my daughter,” Kravitz says, the word God leaking out of him like escaping gas. “I love music, and I don’t stop for nobody. But if I had to stop for her, I’d stop.”
Kravitz pauses and takes a step deeper into the closet. “She’s beautiful,” he continues. “At some point I might have to take a break because I need to spend time with her. You know, just stop for two years and hang with her. After this album I might.”
LENNY THE MISUNDERSTOOD
KRAVITZ: “There’s so much bullshit said about me – and about tons of people. I’m not the only one. I mean, absolute nonsense, you know? It’s just amazing.”
“THE PEOPLE” (a British tabloid), 1995: “A Rolls-Royce rocked up and down for 10 minutes outside a New York club. Then model Naomi Campbell and new love, singer Lenny Kravitz, got out –– looking disheveled and sheepish!”
KRAVITZ: “My cousin just called me tonight, and there’s a whole story in the newspaper about how Naomi Campbell and I are lovers. What really happened was we were standing near each other at a benefit in New York, and we posed for a picture together. I mean, I know her but very casually, as an acquaintance. So this whole thing is printed about how I chased her for a year, and I love her because she’s a superstar 24 hours a day, and I like that. She has attitude, and we both live the superstar life and this and that. On one hand, who cares? But I do, because that’s not what I’m about. I’m not about the superstar life.
“It sounds silly, what I’m saying. Like I’m upset because someone printed that I’m having a love affair with Naomi Campbell. Life could be worse, I suppose. But it’s just not true, and the quotes aren’t true, and the thing isn’t true. It’s just unfair.”
The “LOS ANGELES TIMES,” 1989: “[Kravitz’s] debut . . . overflows with enough exhumed peace and love to maybe make even Wavy Gravy choke. There are delusions of grandeur plenty in Kravitz’s debut.”
KRAVITZ: “I love people. I like to give people chances, and I’m into togetherness and so forth. That’s what life is all about, really. But you know, it doesn’t work out that way, because people end up seeing a character who gives people chances as weak, and then it’s stomping time. ‘Oh, Lenny’s a real nice guy, he’s real open, he’s real cool, he don’t care. So let’s take advantage.’
“I really wasn’t ready for all this. I was always just really open, letting people hang out at my New York loft for a month, and now I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be like that. You have to draw your lines with friends –– and family, too. That’s a negative thing, but you just have to.”
LENNY THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN JEW
ON THE WAY HOME FROM THE friendly Barnetts, Kravitz starts slipping into Yiddish, peppering his conversation with words like tchotchkes and mensch. When this is pointed out to him, he launches into a discussion of his favorite bagel store, H&H in Manhattan, and then his favorite director.
“Woody Allen is the only celebrity I was ever scared to meet,” Kravitz says. “I was in Paris shopping for a dress for my mother and wearing this big Rasta hat. I saw him in the store and stuttered something to him. He just looks at me and says, ‘You’re the only person I’ve met whose hat is bigger than mine.’ I ran into him two weeks later on Fifth Avenue, in New York. All I could stammer was, ‘It’s you!’ “
As the son of a Russian Jew and an African-American, Kravitz has a mixed background that enables him to come up with one-of-a-kind ideas and comparisons –– like describing the movie Stardust Memories as Woody Allen’s Electric Ladyland.
“My style, my taste and everything is all kinds of stuff just slammed together,” Kravitz says. “That’s how I’ve lived my entire life.”
The odd thing is that Kravitz hasn’t fully integrated his diverse cultural influences. The elements remain separate like oil and water. One minute he’s talking about bagels and Woody Allen, the next he’s talking about his intrinsic soulfulness. “Being a black musician, you have that in you,” he says. “It’s like –– no matter what you play –– the funk always seems to slip through.”
Whereas some kids have a complex about being the product of an interracial marriage, for Kravitz it’s a point of pride, and not only because it’s something he has in common with Jimi Hendrix.
“I can switch on you like that,” Kravitz boasts. “I can go from Bed-Stuy talk to Beverly Hills in a second. That’s the good thing about growing up the way I did. I can deal with whatever. I can live in a castle, I can live in the ghetto. It doesn’t matter. It’s the middle that I don’t like.”
LENNY THE MUSICIAN
KRAVITZ’S ATTRACTION TO EXTREMES might be why he gravitated toward New Orleans. There are the decadent pleasures of besotted Bourbon Street, while just blocks away danger lurks, from shoot-and-run robbers to Satanist teens looking for a sacrifice.
The specific thing that brought Kravitz to New Orleans, however, was not the hope of being flame-broiled for the dark one, but music.
“I wasn’t planning to move to New Orleans,” Kravitz says. “I came down here for the Jazz Fest last May to see Aretha Franklin sing because I’d never seen her before. I was just supposed to stay three days, but one night I felt like I wanted to do some music and maybe cut a song or something. So I figured I’d go into the studio for a night –– I didn’t come out for a month and a half.”
Kravitz steps into his house, where all the lodgers are busy arranging all the trinkets he bought at the Hall-Barnett Gallery. “While I was here, because I’m really into architecture, I hired a realtor with no intention to buy,” he continues. “It was completely bullshit to see some of the homes here. This was the second place she showed me, and as soon as I walked in, I knew it was my house. After living in hotels for, like, five years, I need to have a place to call home.”
Kravitz slides open a smoky glass door and walks into a red-carpeted room to play the music that trapped him in New Orleans. It’s all unreleased material, which Kravitz promises to put on an album next year. Greasy marathon funk grooves fill the house, a far cry from Circus, a studio-sharp mix of polished pop ballads and brittle dance rock.
“Part of what led to Circus was going to see Barbra Streisand last year,” Kravitz says. “I sat there and watched that woman sing song after song, and the melodies completely blew my mind. That night I promised myself: I ain’t gonna do no song on my new album that doesn’t have a really good melody.”
Most of Circus was recorded not in New Orleans but in an old château two hours outside Paris. “The place was huge,” Kravitz says. “It was built between the 11th and 15th centuries, mostly by the same guy who built the Louvre. We turned it into this giant recording studio. The bass was in this old bedroom, the drums were in this big gallery, the amps were in the basement and here, there and everywhere. Some of the guitars we recorded in the forest, so you have them slapping off the outside castle wall. It was pretty extravagant. And now I’m broke, so we won’t be doing that for a while.”
Kravitz’s musical evolution has been one of increasing sophistication. He started at the age of 3 or 4, he likes to say, banging on cooking utensils in his parents’ kitchen. “I really used to jam,” he says. “I used to pull out all these different pots of different sizes and different tones and these spoons, and I used to get off. I would drive my mother absolutely nuts. Since then I’ve known what I have to do.”
At first, Kravitz’s ambition was to be a session player, hopping into five or six album recording studios a day. In Los Angeles, he wound up joining the prestigious California Boys Choir and singing Mahler under the lead of Zubin Mehta. It wasn’t until after high school, when Kravitz broke it to his parents that he wanted to pursue music full time instead of going to college, that he started reaching for the pop star.
Kravitz’s father, who had become a music publisher in L.A., agreed to be Lenny’s executive producer and good-naturedly converted Lenny’s college fund into studio time at A&M Records. The studio also became Lenny’s new home. “Nobody at the studio knew it, but I used to sleep in the lounge there a lot,” he says. “By then, I was good at sleeping anywhere and not getting caught.”
Renaming himself Romeo Blue, Kravitz cut an album’s worth of funk-pop songs that he now claims are horrible and pretentious and still embarrass him. More likely, Romeo Blue is an alter ego that Kravitz hasn’t left behind: After all, the messianic rock-star character of Kravitz’s scrapped electric-gospel movie was going to be named Romeo Blue.
It wasn’t until 1989’s Let Love Rule that Kravitz released any music, synthesizing the bulk of his knowledge by playing guitar, bass, drums and organ, and singing all lead and background vocals in addition to producing the album. From there it was all upward, co-writing Madonna’s “Justify My Love,” duetting with Mick Jagger and writing songs with Al Green and Aerosmith.
Kravitz doesn’t like boasting about his own accomplishments. He would much rather sing the praises of other musicians. He collects everything that has to do with music –– old guitars, amplifiers, records, bell-bottoms belonging to guitar heroes, even sheet music. He has been scouring local record stores lately for sheet music by Al Green, the Jackson 5, Wilson Pickett and other R&B greats. He wants to use it to decorate his bathroom. Think of it as a Lenny Kravitz salute to these artists.
“I listened to some Earth, Wind and Fire two nights ago, and that absolutely floored me,” Kravitz says. “Marvin Gaye, Stevie [Wonder]. I still put on Innervisions, and it just takes me somewhere. It sounds like Stevie was in the palm of God’s hand when he was making that record. It’s just so focused and beautiful. And Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear. Do you have that one? I had that on last night. That album is just beautiful.”
LENNY THE KID
TONIGHT, KRAVITZ has organized a large posse –– just about everyone he has met today –– to see Zapp at House of Blues.
“You know Zapp?” Kravitz asks. “That old funk group with Roger Troutman. He sang and played his guitar through these electronic effects so they’d sound like this.” He then launches into a quavering, robotic voice for each person he’s trying to persuade to come to the show. Nobody needs much persuading; Kravitz’s rendition of “More Bounce to the Ounce” is enough for them.
Sitting at House of Blues and watching Troutman (more than 15 years past his career’s zenith) work the crowd like a master, Kravitz gets so excited that he starts bouncing in his seat. He truly doesn’t seem to have changed since he was a child; his friends attest to this, and it’s definitely a point of pride with Kravitz. All these different faces of Lenny –– the clotheshorse and the mystic, the good son and the lover –– add up to one big Lenny the Kid.
And when Kravitz is 50, 60, 70 years old, he plans on being the same. “I want to do this till I’m old and little,” he says as the show ends. “I’d like to be like John Lee Hooker: all in my little suit, with my little gut hanging out, playing music, strumming my guitar. I know I want that.”
Kravitz uses the words old and little synonymously, as if aging is a return to childhood, the rightful domain of Lenny the Kid.