Let Love Rule, by Lenny Kravitz with David Ritz
I must admit that before reading this book I was not particularly aware of the personal life and history of Lenny Kravitz, despite the fact that I have long been fond of his music and generally supportive of his legacy in music history . One of the more remarkable aspects of this book is that it very clearly sets itself out as the first volume of a multi-volume series. This book focuses its attention on the period of the singer’s life from his birth and family background to his breakout into fame with his debut album “Let Love Rule.” The combination of having an interest in the author’s music and life as well as not being particularly knowledgeable about this made the book an obvious one to look at for me. If you are a reader who does not know much about Kravitz’s background but want to learn more, this book does provide the author’s own perspective, and it is a deeply interesting one that looks at Kravtiz’s intense focus on success in music and his corresponding lack of a “backup plan” aside from entertainment. Whether or not this is a praiseworthy thing is a matter for the reader to judge.
This book demonstrates a high degree of polish, beginning with a recurring nightmare that the author had as a child and then returning back to the beginning to explore the complexity of Lenny’s childhood moving from his parents’ apartment in Manhattan to his maternal family in more modest circumstances in Brooklyn. After discussing this childhood and the author’s being in multiple worlds, there is a discussion of his family’s move to Los Angeles and his own teenage efforts to make New Wave music as well as develop his own chops as a singer and a musician. A lot of time is spent showing, again, the complexity of the singer’s efforts as part of a prestigious children’s choir, his own jazz efforts in high school, and his own efforts outside of school to be a member of various bands and then, belatedly, go solo. There is discussion of the he-said, she-said aspects of his own romantic life, which appears to have been rather slow, the complexity of his own identity given his somewhat feminine approach to fashion as well as his obvious attraction to women, especially somewhat dangerous and damaged women. A fair amount of this book also looks at the complexity of family connections when it comes to achieving stardom, and to the struggles that an artist faces to maintain a sense of authenticity, all of which are likely things that others can relate to strongly. Both Kravitz’ s struggle and his privilege are on full display here.
By and large this is a book that can help the reader to greatly understand Lenny Kravitz as an artist and as a person from his own perspective. What many have long noticed in the blend of influences in his music and his own complex interests in fashion, acting, as well as various genres of music comes through in this book in the complicated origins of the author’s own life and approach to music. Being half Jewish and connected for a time to Seventh Day Adventism during his youth, he developed certain attitudes towards abstention from many things, and though he comments often about his fondness for pot, he also disclaims an interest in harder drugs. Similarly, the influence of Kravitz’s black mother and her successful career as an actress, and her part-Bahaman ancestry have also strongly influenced Kravitz as a person. To be sure, he has also been influenced by his troubled relationship with his father and the broken relationship between his parents, as is all too common among artistic types, and his longing to be a better father himself shines through here as well. While it must be admitted that there are going to be other people whose perspectives of the author and of his behavior are going to be different than this book, as a memoir this book does at least present Lenny’s side of the story in a compelling and winning way.
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