lately i’ve been thinking it’s just someone else’s job to care
who am i to sympathize when no one gave a damn?
i’ve been thinking it’s just someone else’s job to care
’cause who am i to wanna try?
change is a powerful thing, people are powerful beings
there’s a change gonna come
i don’t know where or when
but whenever it does we’ll be here for it
Lana Del Rey – Change
Most readers of this blog know my profound love for Lana Del Rey. She’s more than a pop star or even musician these days. An actual artist whose life is her art and vise versa. Like a Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch, her work can be analyzed endlessly and mean different things to different people and that’s ok. No rules, just an open door into your imagination where life can be more than the sum of its parts. She rightfully has a cult following of wayward teenage and millennial fans; some have even gone as far as breaking into her house just for a chance to sit and talk to her (that’s gonna cause some sleepless nights for sure!)
Her aesthetic is vintage Hollywood movie star, a heartbroken Jackie Kennedy, 60’s flower child, 70’s vixen, Janis and Jim Morrison all at once. That doesn’t change. The tragic love songs are still there, but her fourth studio album titled ‘Lust for Life’ is a departure from personal tragedies and the arrival into the 21st century. Lana looked up and saw her fans – the thousands of little disciples that pour all their love into her because she is something real in a wholly artificial 2017 world. So she wrote them the first single and opening track ‘Love’ – a love song for kids growing up today. She mixed hip-hop, like she loves to do, with her ballads on ‘Summer Bummer’ and ‘Groupie Love’, and has duets with Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon. All very fitting. That’s what the critics are talking about.
But I want to talk about the other songs. For an artist, a young woman, who has been in the spotlight for just under six years, Lana has been remarkably apolitical. Most interviews with her are vulnerable, heavy with mood, and mostly concerned with Americana aesthetics. Her troubled romances, her underdog past, drugs, what it means to be an artist, her sunny California life in the Hollywood hills and at the Chateau Marmont. Two years ago she famously dismissed even the idea of feminism because her life was just fine. So it comes as a little bit of a surprise when you play ‘God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It’ and hear the line ‘/God bless America /and all the beautiful women in it /may you stand proud and strong /like Lady Liberty shining all night long.‘ In our current Trump dystopia it’s impossible not to draw political parallels. It’s surprisingly moving. I teared up. And it wouldn’t be the last time either.
‘When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing’ and ‘Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind’ are nothing less than anti-war anthems for our times. A meditation on how to keep living normally, doing the things that make you happy, when a potential world war 3 could break out at any moment. When she breathlessly asks ‘is it the end of America?‘ there is genuinely nothing gimmicky about it.
In the middle of all this social upheaval she manages to slip in a little ‘mini trilogy’ of undying love songs that are the biggest callback to her first, and most popular, record ‘Born to Die (2012).’ They are ’13 Beaches’, ‘Cherry’, and ‘White Mustang.’ They are gorgeous. Perfect. There is nothing else to add other than you should experience them.
Which brings me to the finale. Thanks for sticking with me, I know there is a lot of gushing here. Just when you think an artist can’t possibly grow this much in less two years, she tackles what may be interpreted as climate change in a way it has never been done before in ‘Change’. I had tears streaming down my face before I even knew what was going on.
It’s a prayer. For the times when I feel like giving up. Feel stupid for caring so much. It hurts too much to love all the trees, the oceans, and animals, and see them killed, cut down and polluted, and be powerless to stop any of it. It hurts to care about the endangered snow leopards in the Himalayas that are being hunted into extinction by lack of territory and people closing in, so I shut myself off and go cuddle my little snow white bunnies because they are the only living creatures I was able to save and give a good life. But I can be more useful than that. I can’t save the world but I can participate, if I dare to try.
change is a powerful thing / people are powerful beings / trying to find the power in me
The final song on ‘Lust for Life’ is literally about choosing life, coming from the artist who introduced herself with ‘Born to Die’. Shake off your depression. Remove the gun from your head. Step into the world. A masterpiece like this was gifted to us on a Friday in July. I feel inspired. Lana created her own world and still remains attached to this one. The yin and yang of being an artist. It’s all here.
this is my commitment, my modern manifesto
i’m doing it for all of us who never got the chance
sometimes it feels like i’ve got a war in my mind
i want to get off, but i keep riding the ride
i never really noticed that i had to decide
to play someone’s game or live my own life
and now i do
i wanna move
out of the black (out of the black)
into the blue (into the blue)
Lana Del Rey – Get Free
Get the album in every possible format here.