Let.Love.Rule: A Neo-Hippie Throwback by Black Jewish Rocker Lenny Kravitz

Let Love Rule a song, an album, a anthem, a lifestyle. Who knew such simple words would hold such power even 30 years later? Even in 2019 as Lenny still plays to packed houses all over the world he still ends each show with the incredible song that started it all!

Let Love Rule is the debut studio album of American rock musician Lenny Kravitz, released on September 19, 1989 by Virgin Records. Then-wife Lisa Bonet wrote the lyrics to “Fear” and co-wrote the lyrics on the song, “Rosemary”.

The Inspiration Behind The Music:

Let Love Rule was recored during a very special time in Lenny Kravitz’s life. He was dating and then married to the love of his life and soul mate actress and fellow neo-hippie Lisa Bonet. He would also welcome a beautiful baby girl into his life named Zoe. Everything was perfect for the retro rocker and he put a lot of that into this record a record bent on bringing awareness to the way the world really is while spreading a message of love.

In lots of ways Lenny and Lisa’s relationship was like the John Lennon and Yoko Ono of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In many interviews that I have seen from that time Lenny always got that Beetles comparison or the John Lennon solo projects as his inspiration. To Lenny those where complements but far from the inspiration he had when writing his debut into the world.

He says growing up he was more into the black artist of the ’70s & ’80s like James Brown, Prince, The Jackson 5 and other Motown artist. His father says he started banging pots and pans before going for the guitar. Like his influences he is a multi instrumentalist who really brings all his talents on to this record.

The style of Lenny and Lisa at this time was also a big inspiration on this album as well. This album cycle was when Lenny was 25-26 and his fashion was on point. He looked as if he just time traveled from the late ’60s-’70s and was a living retro art piece. He had his short locks at this time & could be seen wearing tiny shades covering his eyes all the time. He also wore a lot of fur probably fake fur and bellbottoms with boots or bare foot. Scarfs were a big outfit staple and long sleve colorful dress shits plus vest with his bare chest exposed especially when he was performing. Oh and hats were big as well as suits fashioned in a very lade back relaxed style. And like all hippies he is a pot smoker with upper arm and chest tattoos with necklaces around his neck and a ring in his nose.

Lisa on the other hand in a lot of ways was a female version of this retro style Lenny was sporting. Lisa would ware dresses with bold patterns, tiny glasses, top hats, lace skirts, medicine bag around her neck, boots or bare foot and her own curly hair or fox locks with her nose ring.

They even had baby Zoe following the family trend by wearing colorful little baby outfits and anklets.

Let Love Rule to me is that idealistic album any morally or socially concious 20-something would make. When I listen to it or read the lyrics of the songs I picture basically my mind in music. I can relate to this album a lot with it’s peace and love message while trying to make the world better. The way I use this blog or social media to bring awareness to the injustice in the world and spread peace and love is what Lenny Kravitz brings with his music.

Plus it just felt right that Lisa helped to write a few songs on the album being as though she was Lenny’s muse at that time. Many songs were written directly for or about his love for Lisa and it is just so amazing to see the love between two black counter culture hippies.

And even though their love didn’t last the test of time in romance Lenny and Lisa or Lilakoi Moon as she now goes by still have that soul connection as best friends with their one true love in Zoe.

 

The Music:

“Sittin’ on Top of the World”

So this track starts as with a soft acoustic guitar strums with Lenny sining the title of the song & belting out a very rough raw vocal. This is probably one of his most raw vocals performances on the album.

“Let Love Rule”

Like I said before Let Love Rule is anthem for the ages about love, peace and unity. It is a call out to all those who care about this planet and the people, plants, and animals who live on it and wanted to help to protect them through love. To me love is the center of ever thing and the answer to the meaning of life and I feel as though Lenny Kravitz understands that too. This is track with a great saxophone solo and Lenny is jammin on that acoustic guitar.

“Freedom Train”

This is a very short song with very little lyrics but with a great message. It’s very funky and reminds you of the late ’60s vibe he was giving all over this record. The lyrics go as follows: “It’s on the freedom train Come on dance on the freedom train” which if you listen to a lot of funk, soul or folk songs from the ’60s-’70s you hear a similar message like the song Love Train by the O’Jays. It’s about a fictional train to freedom Lenny wants us all to join meaning he wants us to find our way to being free. It also gives off a very Bob Marley vibes in the lyrics.

“My Precious Love”

We again get to hear Lenny’s gravelly vocals in this track. This one I’m going to guess was about this then wife Lisa Bonet and his undying love for her which is so sweet. He really croons in this song about her being his precious love. He talks of her having a baby and putting her wild adventures behind her. This is just one of many love songs to Lisa on this record and it’s beautiful.

“I Build This Garden for Us”

Another very beautiful song dedicated to not only his wife but the world he wants to see. He is very idealistic to a world both past for what was and future for what he wants it to become. A few lyrics take a religious tone as he talks about the father and having praise for the day He comes. He also talks about touching the Earth and farming everyday. Lenny talks of his children growing in this garden and having a long lasting love until they get old and not letting the world in always being there for her. In the last verse Lenny talks from a more worldly perspective of this perfect garden. He talks of no war, racial prejudice, and being his brother of any color. Lenny says he hopes the he can reach the world with this message but until then hill stay in his garden where there is peace and love. One of my favorite songs on the record as I agree with many of the idealist things Lenny sings about in this song.

“Fear”

This song is about the fear of humans of the things humans do. Lisa helped Lenny to write this song and you can see her neo-hippie activist spirit all over this track. On the track they talk about polluted seas and melting trees, toxic waste and acid rain. They also talk about how they search for GOD but hate others just the same with their machine hearts as they call them forgetting that these people are human too.

“Does Anybody Out There Even Care”

This track starts off with a drum beat & very soft vocals from Lenny. This is actually a very somber song about how I feel a lot of the time about this world that we as humans don’t seem to care about the plight of other humans. In the chorus he asks the question of “Does anybody know how many lives we’ve lost Can anybody ever pay the cost” then asks “What will it take for us to join in peace my friends Does anybody out there even care” which are all questions I ask too many times a day. Lenny talks about how we need to wake up before it’s too late and let love conquer hate before going into a verse about the KKK, riots and lynchings. This is a very heavy song with heavy lyrics but I think as a society we all need to be thinking about these things and really truly start caring about it.

“Mr. Cab Driver”

On this track Lenny does a commentary on racism & people’s difference by the way hailing a cab in New York is for people of different backgrounds. He says things like the Mr. Cab Driver won’t stop, doesn’t like his kind of skin & only thinks about himself. He doesn’t like his locks and even goes as far to say he thinks they are all 165ers which is a term for male prostitutes but then says I’m a surviver. It’s a short funky little acoustic number about how something so simple as hailing a cab can still be hard for people of color and those who look different.

“Rosemary”

This is another somber acoustic tune with a harmonica about a little girl who became homeless due to her parents leaving her out in the streets. He talks about the hardship of being a homeless orphan. It’s a very sad but real story.

“Be”

This song has a simple drum beat, piano key & guitar strum behind lyrics of passion where Lenny asks some heavy questions. First he asks “Lord what’s the matter Am I lost
This life’s a disaster, what is the cause Am I a junkie, what is my fate Or am I a flunkies who doesn’t relate Or am I a child so full of hate” then the last lyrics goes “Lord what’s the matter am I insane This life’s an illusion that’s all it remains Are you listening, are you boss Am I gonna make it up on that cross Believe in Your name and You’ll forever be” To me this song repents the way he was feeling at the time about his faith and if he was doing the right things in his life.

“Blues for Sister Someone”

The instrumentation for this song starts with a drum beat and electric guitar. This track is about a girl who is homeless, on drugs, is a prostitutes and is even pregnant but doesn’t care about her baby. She lives in a bathroom and is sadly just in a tough spot. This is a sad reality for a lot of homeless women so it was great Lenny was shining a light on this subject.

“Empty Hands”

This song has a sort of Mexican vibe to it. I think this song is about a kind of profit who came to free the children and those who are pure of heart but then the “powers that be” end up ending him. He talks about him having locks and about how those who are pure of heart will be the first to die which we have seen through out history. This is a very real song about the way our profits who are pure of heart are killed.

“Flower Child”

Flower Child has to be my favorite track off this album next to the title track. Lenny talks about his flower child aka Lisa Bonet and her champa (a female name which has the meaning “The Queen of Dark Beauties”) and her nose ring. He compares her to psychedelics and how she will take you on a trip and how she is on a plane of higher consciousness and how her soul and mind are free. He talks about her being a child of Martin Luther King Jr. as she was born in the late ’60s advocating for the land and the sea and how her eyes are made of sunshine & her lips are jelly sweet. At the end of the track he yells out “You gonna free me” “You gonna free free free free free yeah.”

Over all this album is a journey through the mind of a 25 year old neo-hippie who really believed in the messages he was putting out to the world and wanted to make the world a better place. It might be idealistic but it also makes you think about the way we act and behave in this world to each other & the planet. Also who doesn’t love love?

Reviews:

https://people.com/archive/picks-and-pans-review-let-love-rule-vol-32-no-15/

Interviews/Performances:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113971966

Well Till Next Time…Let Love Rule! 

 

 

 

 

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