We’re hoping you already know this one, but if not, let’s get into the legacy of “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz. Or, if you just need a quick refresher on the feverish strumming of the song, you’ve come to the right place.
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“Are You Gonna Go My Way” was the first song to be released off of Kravitz’s third studio album of the same name in 1993. It was written by Kravitz and guitarist Craig Ross who has been performing and recording with Kravitz for many years.
“That song was literally cut in five minutes,” Kravitz said of the song in a 2018 interview. “My session was getting ready to end and another band was coming in. The song was something that came really quick. Craig Ross and I went in there and cut it, bang. I played the drums, he was on the guitar and my bass player at the time, Tony Breit, was on it. We cut it live. We didn’t have time to take it in.
“I took the cassette home and listened and listened and listened and was like, ‘What am I gonna do with this?’ Then the melody and the words came. I went back to the studio the next day and sang it. I had no idea what I had.”
The lyrics that Kravitz wrote possess a unique spiritual spin. “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is written from the perspective of Jesus Christ. I was born long ago/ I am the chosen, I’m the one/ I have come to save the day/ And I won’t leave until I’m done, Kravitz sings in the opening verse.
“I thought the subject matter was really interesting because it’s coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ, as I thought,” Kravitz explained. “So basically, ‘Are you gonna go my way?’ meaning ‘my way of love.’ I had no idea that that song would become what it became. No idea. There was nothing on the radio like that. And the recording is so raw, it’s ridiculous.”
What’s so important about this song?
The release and subsequent success of “Are You Gonna Go My Way” took Kravitz from a somewhat respected rockstar to a household name.
Before Kravitz released the song and album, Are You Gonna Go My Way, in 1993, most people knew Kravitz because of his famous family. Specifically, two years before his debut studio album, Let Love Rule, Kravitz married Lisa Bonet, who, at the time, was widely known for her role on The Cosby Show. Kravitz’s parents were also well-known in the entertainment industry. His mother, Roxie Roker, was an actress on the TV series The Jeffersons, and his father was a successful TV producer.
Clearly, it was going to take a big break for Kravitz to separate himself from his family (despite the love he had for all of them, of course). And “Are You Gonna Go My Way” was just that—the song that stood up Kravitz’s career on its own two legs.
“Are You Gonna Go My Way” was well received both commercially and critically, with many critics applauding the Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar riffs. Further, the song’s music video was frequently featured on MTV, getting plenty of airtime and exposure. The video later won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Artist, and the song itself garnered Kravitz two Grammy nods.
“Are You Gonna Go My Way” solidified Kravitz’s rock legend status.
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy