55. Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way

This world's going to hell in a handcart and we need someone to lead us. We need someone who will teach us a new way of thinking - change the paradigm of present day humanity. Our problems have become so complex and overwhelming that we need to look at a shining example of how we should live our lives, not only by their words, but by their actions. We need..... Lenny Kravitz?

Apparently we do. Just ask him.

I was born long ago
I am the chosen I'm the one
I have come to save the day
And I won't leave until I'm done

Well, that's good to hear, I guess. The saying always goes, "Lead, follow or get out of the way," and Lenny's definitely placing himself at the front of the pack. He's got long hair, just like Jesus, and he's probably closer in complexion to Jesus than so many of the European produced likenesses we've been hammered over the head with (Really? An Israelite with blue eyes?). He's got the dreads that Jesus probably would've had if he'd lived in these hipper times. He's even a musician, so he's got the John Lennon thing going too, and Lennon said that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, so that's an appropriate example to aspire to. And like Lennon, he's got his message:

So tell me why we got to die
And kill each other one by one
We've got to love and rub-a-dub
We've got to dance and be in love

Finally, someone we can.... wait.... Did he say "We've got to love and rub-a-dub?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Aw, hell, if it works for Lenny and Ellen Degeneres, it works for me. She likes to dance, right? At least we'll all be dancing, and rub-a-dubbing……

Okay, all kidding aside, Lenny Kravitz has written one of the greatest kick-ass rock anthems of all time. It just happens to have that ridiculous but at the same time kinda cool "rub-a-dub" line in it. And in tribute to Lennon, he's produced it in a sixties style melded with some seventies sensibilities, and then added 90's production techniques. You can see the influences from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and even early Prince stuff. To mix up such diverse influences usually ends up in a hodgepodge mess, but this song is as tight as the snap of the snare drum and a tribute to all of those influences.

It starts with that anthemic guitar riff that absolutely will not be ignored. You instantly hear the influence of the early multitrack recordings where producers could finally mix stuff in stereo. You'd hear the guitar in one ear, while the bass drum was in the other and the drums and vocals were in both ears. It was a gimmick early on that made way to more subtle and sophisticated mixes in the seventies and especially the eighties, but the old school technique works perfectly for this song. So the guitar stays in your left ear for most of the song, then you get extra harmonic streams of guitar in your right ear. He even plays around with the vocals jumping around in each ear. But with the retro feel of the song, it works perfectly.

The drums have that feel like they were recorded in a huge warehouse with the drums on one side and the actual microphone on the other, a la Keith Moon with The Who. They’re perfect sounding rock drums to go with that perfect guitar riff. Sure you hear the same riff 88 times throughout the song, but if you had a riff that was that killer, you’d play it 88 times too. The bass is typical sixties bass, where it’s just there to lay the foundation for the rest of the song. Nothing too fancy, but that’s not what this song needed. If there was a Geddy Lee type bass line here, your brain might just explode.

As the ultimate tribute to those late sixties songs, Lenny flanges it out for the bridge. Not only is the guitar fuzzed to the extreme, he’s done it with the drums, too. It gives the whole bridge that I’m going through a dark tunnel while someone’s playing some awesome guitar and drums feel to it, and who hasn’t experienced that? Then it’s off for some more riffing in both your ears before the song ends with a bang – from both the guitar and the drums.

If you listen to this song and don’t bob your head up and down, then you’ve just had spinal reattachment surgery and you’re in one of those metal contraptions with the pins in your head. And even if you’re the unlucky one to be wearing the metallic halo, you’re still rocking your whole upper body back and forth, because you jus t can’t help yourself. So go ahead, listen to “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and appreciate what a killer rock and roll song is all about. And listen to it with headphones on, but not those newfangled earbud things, go get yourself some old-fashioned cans that cover your whole ear (and stick out four inches on each side) so you end up slapping yourself with the cord because you’re rocking out so hard. Don’t worry, you can find ‘em on ebay or craiglist. You won’t regret it. I know I don’t, and I just finished listening to it eleven times in a row. I’d go back for twelve, but that would just be too much, don’t you think?

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