I’ve been in a very reflective mode lately. I’m always pretty nostalgic, but the pandemic is really bringing it out of me. As we think about the uncertain future of live music experiences and yet rely on music to sooth our souls now more than ever, I’m thinking about the artists, music, and live experiences I’m grateful for. Starting with Lenny Kravitz (This is coming back to me as I read Lenny’s autobiography, Let Love Rule.)
So what’s the story of my deep appreciation for Lenny Kravitz? I guess it started with the song, “Fly Away,” which was a big single on pop radio in my youth. I listened to this song all the time, waiting for it to play on the radio so I could try to record a full version on a cassette tape. When my dad discovered my love for this song, he introduced me to Lenny’s catalogue. Dad also told me how Lenny played all of the instruments on his record in addition to performing vocals and writing his own music, and this was incredible to me. I was awe-struck. We purchased Lenny’s Greatest Hits CD and would listen to it together in the car. Listening to that CD always makes me think of my dad.
Fast forward to 2009. I’m living in NYC, still very new, fresh and wide-eyed, and just starting my graduate work at NYU without friends or family nearby. I immediately turn to live music venues for connection — to my favorite artists and bands for companionship — and to fellow fans for a sense of community. Lenny Kravitz was playing back-to-back nights at the Fillmore East, just a couple blocks from Union Square where I often hopped off the Subway. I immediately bought a ticket, not thinking about crushing student debt. I tried to talk some new colleagues into coming to the show with me, but they shrugged it off. This didn’t dim my excitement, however. I’ve never been nervous about going to concerts on my own — once you get into the crowd, the people around you are your people. I love this about live music — the way it brings strangers together and you can feel so connected through your shared love for the music. It builds real community. For a lonely Austinite in NYC, these experiences reminded me of home and they fueled me.
Anyway, that night at the Fillmore East was absolute magic. The fans are different in New York than they are in Austin —they act more sophisticated and chill. When I arrived, people were grabbing cocktails, which I certainly couldn’t afford, and casually mingling by the bar. I walked right up to the stage. Front row for Lenny Kravitz! It was the last night of the five-show run, and Lenny left everything on the stage. He rocked until his voice went raspy. I could not believe I had the opportunity to witness his performance in such an intimate space. I danced all night, the music telling my body how to move, and sang loud. I was at home. I was with family.
I grabbed this poster on my way out the door and protected it on the subway ride back to my apartment, where it was one of the first things I hung on my wall. It now hangs in our house back here in the Texas Hill Country. I look at it every day.
I’ll never forget that night. Thank you, Lenny. Thank you, fellow fans.