“Are You Gonna Go My Way?” by Lenny Kravitz (1993)

Here’s another grouping of random thoughts.

-”Are You Gonna Go My Way” marked Lenny’s ascension into the rock and roll major leagues. Not quite sure how that happened–all of a sudden he just had this mystique. Maybe it was because by this time he’d divorced Lisa Bonet and had a hit single? I dunno.

-My 17th birthday came within four weeks of my high school graduation. One of my best friends, James La Rocco, volunteered to buy me a tape for my birthday. The handful I gave him to choose from were Janet Jackson’s Janet, Sting’s Ten Summoners’ Tales, The Geto Boys’ Til Death Do Us Part, and Are You Gonna Go My Way? He bought me Janet. I’d acquired two of the others by the end of 1993, and I still have no idea what that Geto Boys album sounds like.

-The knock on Lenny has always been that he wears his influences on his sleeve. He’s a great stylistic mimic. There’s no clearly defined Lenny Kravitz sound the way Prince, for example, is associated (rightly or wrongly) with the Linn drum machine. The transparency of Lenny’s influences was maybe not taken as kindly by the music critic community in 1993 as it would be today.

“Are You Gonna Go My Way” is pretty solid as far as mission statements go. It’s catchy, the guitar playing kicks ass. Even if you could very easily process the song as “’I Would Die 4 U’ as sung by Jimi Hendrix”, it’s still a really good synthesis of Prince and Hendrix. Even if I’m tempted to dock it half a point for the regrettable lyrics “we’ve got to hug/and rub-a-dub.”

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