How Johnny Cash Helped Lenny Kravitz When His Mom Died
Lenny Kravitz wrote his new song “Johnny Cash” after remembering the moment the late country legend offered moral support after Kravtiz’s mother died in 1995.
The incident took place at the home of producer Rick Rubin, where Cash and his wife June were working on his American Recordings II: Unchained album. Having been told by doctors that actress Roxie Roker, Kravitz's mom, was near death, Kravitz had also arranged to stay with Rubin so he could be near the hospital.
“I got off a plane from Tokyo and I went straight to the hospital," he told the BBC (via Music-News.com). “My mother was alive, but she was slipping. I thought she maybe had another couple of days in her; I went home to take a shower and get some food. I was going to go back to the hospital but as I was going from the hospital to the house of Rick, my mother passed.”
Kravitz said he "got the phone call when I was in the house, and I'm standing there with the portable phone in my hand, just taking this in, and Johnny and June are walking down the stairs. So Johnny said to me, 'Hi, you're back. How are you?' And I said, 'My mom just died.’ I was a bit fazed and out of it and the two of them just came up to me and surrounded me and held me. The two of them. We weren't lifelong friends. I didn't know them that long. We were flatmates. But they decided at that moment [to] treat me like they would treat someone in their family. It was a beautiful moment of humanity and love.”
The moment inspired the track from Kravitz’s new album Raise Vibration, which comes out tomorrow. He previously revealed he’d allowed himself to become inspired naturally and had effectively dreamed the entire work. A similar process seemed to be involved when he wrote “Johnny Cash,” he recalled.
“I heard the melody, I heard the music, but I did not understand why I was getting the words ‘Johnny Cash,’" he recalled. "It obviously is something that impacted me and has been sitting within my spirit. They were beautiful, real people – and I guess that might have been the last time that I was consoled in that way.”
Kravitz starts a brief U.S. tour on Sept. 21.