Monday, January 20, 2014

For My Wife on Her Birthday

Lots of people have tried imitating The Beatles and for the most part they fail. They think it’s the harmonies, or the song structure. Or maybe both! They’re idiots, and in the course of attempting to write a mediocre Beatles song they fail at songwriting altogether.

Here, Lenny Kravitz shows he paid attention while the Beatles were playing. He captures the essence of the individual personalities of the band, from Paul McCartney’s alternately wandering and propulsive, always independently minded bass, to Ringo’s almost painfully slow attack on the drums. The surprise B-flat chord in the coda demands we sing along.

What seals the deal is Lenny Kravitz makes it all his. This isn’t a corny homage. This is a living, breathing statement of the kind John or George were wont to make. Except this is Lenny’s. Thus, “Let Love Rule” is the best Beatles song that isn’t a Beatles song. For that matter, it’s the only one I’m aware of.

My then future-wife had the cassette tape in her car when we first went out. It was my first exposure to Kravitz, and I was impressed with the rest of his debut album. His follow-up, Mama Said, was even better overall. Kravitz has managed a few stand-out moments since then, but “Let Love Rule” is an early cut on the Soundtrack of Us. You can’t beat the sentimental favorite: