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Lenny Kravitz, ‘American Woman’ – Terrible Classic Rock Covers

As someone who wears his love of classic rock on his frilly, vintage sleeve, Lenny Kravitz should have known exactly what to do with ‘American Woman.’ So what happened when he covered the Guess Who’s No. 1 1970 hit in 1999?

Here’s how we think it went: Kravitz was engaging in his daily quotient of trying on wrap-around sunglasses and admiring himself in the mirror when ‘American Woman’ came on the local classic rock radio station. “Ooh,” he said to himself. “This is my jam right here … I should record this song and update it, give it the ’90s treatment – you know, a cool retro gloss over a hollow attempt to cash in.”

He arrived in the studio to find that he had arranged for the best producer in rock: himself. He was delighted. “OK,” producer Lenny began, “one of the great things about ‘American Woman’ is the song’s endlessly chugging rhythm. We have to keep that.”

“No can do,” said Lenny the performer, flipping his collar. “How about we drop the rhythm tracks way down and sometimes just let the song stumble along on hand claps and some stilted guitar?”

“Genius!” producer Lenny exclaimed. “Speaking of guitar, another cool thing about the original is Randy Bachman’s supple guitar lines that just seem to hang in the air forever. And that solo!”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” performer Lenny shook his head. “I can’t sound like that. I could never get that tone. I’ll just play a thin little solo instead.” (This part is actually true. Bachman said that Kravitz told him that he didn’t include the original’s amazing solo because he couldn’t figure out how to get the right tone.)

“All right, it’s almost perfect,” producer Lenny said. “All it needs is some … ”

“Self-promotion!” finished performer Lenny. “Yes, during the last minute of the song, when I’m warbling through a distorted microphone, I’ll sing something like, ‘I’m gonna fly away.’ You know, just like ‘Fly Away,’ the name of my last hit single.”

“Brilliant!” said producer Lenny. “I wish it could always be like this.”

Later, after the entire song was recorded, Lenny listened to the playback of his version of ‘American Woman.’ Being a big fan of ’60s and ’70s rock, he completely hated it. “This is boring, soulless and annoying,” he fumed while futzing with the ruffles on his shirt. “We’ll just get Heather Graham to touch herself a lot in the video and maybe no one will care.”

Next: Terrible Classic Rock Cover: Sugar Ray

Listen to the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’

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