Lenny Kravitz has many strong ballads to his name. The guitarist channelled the energy of Led Zeppelin on his debut album, before turning to more soul-inflected melodies on ‘Always On The Run’, featuring Guns ‘N’ Roses mainstay Slash. But inspiration can also come from home, as is evident from this charming ballad he wrote for his daughter, Zoë. Fittingly, the tune is titled ‘Flowers For Zoe’.
It’s unlikely that the title was meant as a direct homage to the Daniel Keyes epic, Flower for Algernon since the composer has very rarely alluded to science fiction in his work, but that the title came to him as he tried to pay tribute to the child who had changed his vision on life. The characters that formed the foundation of ‘Flowers For Zoe’ were also the foundations that gave him the inspiration to write a lingering, yearning ballad from the perspective of a parent.
It was growing easier to write as a parent, thanks in part to John Lennon, who had written an ode to his son with the gorgeous ‘Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)’ on the Double Fantasy album. By the time Kravitz had elected to write about his daughter, he felt comfortable enough in his knowledge that the sentiment would not impact his career as it might have done for 1970s rockers Robert Plant and Steven Tyler. Originally titled ‘Zoe’s Lullaby’, the song embodies a nursery rhyme like quality that seeps into the atmosphere, padding out the backdrop with a collection of nursery rhyme like backdrops and lyrics that did celebrate the virtues of youth. carrying on the narrative from the perspective of a child who had yet to explore their own views on life.
The song is interesting, as it speaks to children, but it doesn’t discriminate against adults. It was a trick Paul McCartney had fashioned with The Beatles and Wings, ultimately culminating in the lushly produced ‘We All Stand Together‘, written for a film about Rupert the Bear. ‘Flowers For Zoe’ doesn’t hit the heady heights of the McCartney songs, but no one (not even Noel Gallagher, no matter how much he might pretend he does) has ever been able to compete with a Beatle.
What we get is something punchy, tight, taut and deeply reverential of a daughter who meant more to him than any glittering prize the music industry might throw at him. These days, Zoe is an accomplished actor. You may know her as Catwoman from The Batman, where she presented the anti-hero as a sexually charged vagrant who uses her legs to open the vaults of the criminal underbelly.
This wasn’t her venture into comic book territory, as she had previously appeared in X-Men:First Class as a mutant, and voiced a different iteration of Catwoman in The Lego Batman Movie. She made a side venture into television with the biting High Fidelity, cleverly updating Nick Hornby’s book into the realm of 21st-century paralysis. Whether or not she will follow her father into rock remains to be seen, but she suits the world of cinema.
And she’s definitely grown into an artist far removed from the child who inspired her father’s homage to the joys of innocence. Songs grow with the passage of time, and the only way to formulate a passage of time is to embrace the present moment in a tremendous manner. It’s important to be a part of the moment, whether it’s reading this piece, or catching sight on the road in front of you. Life is celebrated from the simple pleasures in life, and Kravitz found personal happiness in his children.
Stream the track below.