“I do / I want to move out of the black into the blue.”
Lana Del Rey is perhaps not always the best artist to listen to when you’re feeling unbearably sad. A bulk of her catalog epitomizes the feeling of depression, and that captivating voice of hers might just pull you down even deeper into a rut.
Or, it could be exactly what you needed to hear.
Lust For Life (out tonight), like every Lana Del Rey record, is a gorgeously crafted, classic-sounding body of work. It’s a mostly solemn, introspective affair — also par for the course — but also more socially conscious than anything she’s recorded before.
This album, as she explained early on in the campaign, is for us — “and about where I hope we are all headed.”
But in between the stormy stuff, as she gets in her feelings and airs (valid) concerns about safety in Trump’s America, some glimmers of sunlight do peek through. There’s even a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow. Just don’t bother trying to chase it.
At the very end of the record — well past the lovey-dovey escapism on top of the H of the Hollywood sign with The Weeknd of “Lust For Life” and beyond the impossible-to-ignore political concern of “Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind” and “When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing” — sits one of the album’s most uplifting moments: “Get Free,” an encouraging send-off for those who might find comfort in knowing that Lana’s actively working through her own inner demons, too.
She reflected on that viral moment in a more in-depth interview that ran on Pitchfork this week: “Fuck that guy, though. I didn’t think he would print it and make it the headline. I was having a really tough time. I had been on the road for a year. I was really struggling. I was just stupid, I was like, ‘I fucking want to die.’ Maybe I meant it. I don’t really know.”
There’s no use debating just how much she meant it back then, not that she should feel bad for being honest. She’s still here now, clearly. And if “Get Free” is as autobiographical as anything else she’s written, and if her recent interviews proclaiming happiness as the goal are any indication, she’s working on shifting her mindset.
“This is my commitment, my modern manifesto / I’m doing it for all of us who never got the chance,” she pledges.
As for the music, the song has all the signature elements of a Lana production, circa Born To Die: the surf guitars, breathy sighs and nostalgic melodies. (In this case, the verses evoke Radiohead‘s “Creep.”) Only Lana’s not dwelling on that suh-suh-summertime sadness. She’s determined to push past the gloom.
“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.”
That winning hook of a chorus and catchy call-and-response aside, the lyrics of “Get Free” are among the most striking on Lust For Life. Full disclosure: I cried reading through them for the first time. With a nod to “Ride,” arguably her best single to date, she acknowledges that the battle rages on — but she’s keeping it moving, anyway.
“I was not discerning / And you, as we found out, were not in your right mind.”
The same singer who once swooned over her bad baby and set her sights on riding Bugatti Veyrons in the Hamptons now seems grounded in a less materialistic reality. In short: Lana Del Rey’s a lot less “buy me diamonds, daddy” these days, and a lot more, uh, Four Noble Truths.
“There’s no more chasing rainbows / And hoping for an end to them / Their arches are illusions, solid at first glance / But then you try to touch them / There’s nothing to hold on to / The colors used to lure you in / And put you in a trance.”
Still sound depressing? Perhaps, yes. This is still Lana, after all. But the pursuit of these fleeting, pretty things is a path that will only lead to disappointment which is why, first and foremost, it comes down to love. Self-love. Love for others. All of that good energy.
It’s probably no coincidence that the first offering from the Lust For Life campaign was “Love,” a reassuring reminder to her young fans that life might be fucked up (especially right now), but you’re enough, kid.
As “Get Free” fades, the sounds of waves crashing and birds squawking peacefully wash over the speakers. Blue skies emerge. And suddenly, a trip to the beach doesn’t sound half bad.
The song’s message is especially poignant on a day like today, after yet another creative spirit was prematurely taken from the world at their own doing.
Make the commitment to stay on the ride, even if you might not always want to. And just ride.