You might think that by his ninth album of new songs, Lenny Kravitz would have strayed from the hippie ideals that put him on the musical map more than 20 years ago. But “Black and White America” is an unabashedly idealistic collection of songs with sentiments like “the future looks as though it has come around” and “I’m gonna push the clouds away,” as well as titles like, “Life Ain’t Ever Been Better Than It Is Now.” Really?
“It’s a choice, it’s a way of life,” says the singer of his optimism. “There are moments when you are tested, and there are obstacles that you need to deal with, but I just try to stay positive. I believe that life is good, for the most part.”
But surely there must be times when the modern world intrudes upon this Utopia?
“Regardless of what’s going on in the world, I have the choice on how to control my body, control my thoughts — and that’s one of the only real controls that we have,” he says. “Because the rest of it, we don’t know what the hell’s going on, what we’re told, what the dude says, how the government acts. … So I try to wake up every day and be thankful and try to enjoy my day as much as possible.”
The singer seems to be doing just that. When he answers the phone, he is in his home recording studio in the Bahamas.
“Most days I tend to go into the studio,” he says. “I’m always recording. If I had a record deal or not, I’d still be recording. It’s part of my day, to make music.”
Kravitz is currently working on two albums — a rock ‘n’ roll project and a raw funk album called “Negrophilia” that he’s been tooling with for years.
“It’s one of those things that I’ve been working on for a long time, and that’s part of what makes it really interesting, putting it away for years and pulling it back out and being re-inspired,” he says.
When he answers the phone, a song he’s mixing is audible in the background. It has that classic Lenny-harmonizing-with-Lenny sound in front of a symphonic gallop and a stringy guitar.
“It’s like painting,” he says. “I go in and I do my thing, and come out with some kind of a picture.”
“I was 7 years old. That was at my elementary school and there was this fair going on, and there were these booths where you could paint your face, and that’s what I put on my face. I was for the cause back then, way before I said, ‘Let love rule.’ … I just found it while I was working on the album, looking through some old family albums and I thought, ‘That’s interesting.’ It sort of just confirmed that that’s how I’ve always been.”