Kravitz desires simple life, not stardom
May 04, 2005 - On his latest CD, "Baptism," Lenny Kravitz offers a lament about the excesses that come with his line of work — it's called "I Don't Want to Be a Star."
For an artist who always has exhibited a flashy style and seemed to relish the spotlight — not to mention having gained an image of a jet-setting playboy for ro-mances with stars like Madonna and Ni-cole Kidman — this is one song that pushes the bounds of credibility.
While there's certainly a tongue-in-cheek element to "I Don't Want to Be a Star" — Kravitz notes in the lyrics that he's drunk with Bob Dylan and partied with Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger — there's also a strong element of truth to his desire for a simpler life.
"We all have different parts of ourselves," Kravitz said in a recent telephone interview. "But you'd be quite shocked if you hung out with me away from all of that. I live a very quiet, different life than what you'd expect.
"First of all, I'm not into being a celebrity," he continued. "I'm who I am. I'm a musician. I do have friends in the business, and I have lots of friends who have nothing to do with the business. But I live my life.
"You know, it ("I Don't Want to Be a Star") wasn't a complaint. I'm not saying: 'Oh, poor me.' There are times in your life when you would like to be able to do things (like) take a walk, go to a museum, walk the streets, look at buildings, people watch, whatever. Sit in a cafe, anything,'' he explained.
"I Don't Want to Be a Star" isn't the only time Kravitz engages in some introspection on "Baptism." The CD offers a bit of the expected bravado, particularly on the lead track "Minister of Rock 'n' Roll" — the title's self-explanatory — and in the lustful — but respectful — "Lady" and "Sistamamalover.''
But the CD is defined more by its reflective material.
On "Where Are We Runnin'?" Kravitz ponders the value of relentlessly pursuing material goods and status when what we really need is "time to clear our heads."
Kravitz turns his attention to taking stock of his life so far, trying to decide if he has lived up to his own standards and em-braced the possibilities this world has to offer on "Destiny" and "What Did I Do With My Life?"
"Calling All Angels," finds Kravitz longing for that one special love that lasts a lifetime, while in "The Other Side" he asks himself straight out: "Could a wife and some children be better than being in a band?"
These thoughts are apparently quite serious, as Kravitz — who has a daughter, Zoe, from a previous marriage to actress Lisa Bonet — has talked at length in recent interviews about his desire to settle down with the right woman. That's not to say he's ready to forsake rock 'n' roll for matrimony.
"Well, I think you can have both, and balance your life out," the 40-year-old Krav-itz said. "I'll welcome that when it does arrive."
The self-probing rock and pop material that emerges on "Baptism" wasn't what Kravitz had planned for this, his seventh studio CD.
In fact, Kravitz initially expected to make a funk CD his next project. But on a visit to New York City, he started writing again and a cache of rock and pop songs came out.
"Creatively I just felt I was in a new beginning," Kravitz said of the burst of writing that produced the "Baptism" CD. "It wasn't about going back to being a certain way. I don't look back."
The musical settings serve Kravitz well, as songs like the breezy rocker "Califor-nia," the punchy "Lady" and "Where Are We Runnin'?" continue in the tradition of such earlier hits as "Are You Gonna Go My Way" and "Dig In." On "Sistamamalover" and "Minister of Rock 'n' Roll," Kravitz gets funky — perhaps offering a taste of the funk album still to come. The CD also has several ballads, with "The Other Side" and "Calling All Angels," standing out from the pack.
Although it's a solid effort, "Baptism" has yet to return Kravitz to his million-selling ways. In fact, the CD only recently has gone gold — 500,000 copies sold — and his tour this spring will take Kravitz and his 11-piece band to clubs and small theaters instead of arenas. Kravitz canceled a late summer 2004 tour of outdoor amphitheaters, citing family issues.
Kravitz, though, said the venues for his current tour were chosen to give him a change of pace in his live shows.
"I haven't played theaters in years," he said. "I just got back from South America doing a stadium tour, so it's a completely different environment, a different feeling. But it's great. It feels like the old days."
Lenny Kravitz plays Saturday, May 7, at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd. The show, which also features opening act Nikka Costa, is sold out.