What is there even to say anymore about The State of Things in America in 2019?
It’s all too sad, too infuriating, too grim – and despite all the helpfully retweeted advice to channel that energy into campaigning and donating and volunteering and voting, I think it’s also completely acceptable and healthy to allow time and space to feel however you want to feel – be it depressed, helpless, or just hopeless.
Lana Del Rey is still processing the latest horrific events, plural, over the past weekend – which bring the tally up to 255 mass shootings in 2019 thus far. (There have been more shootings than days in the year.)
And in reaction to the news, she wrote a song, called “Looking for America.”
“Hi folks came back early from Montecito with my brother this morning and asked Jack Antonoff to come into town because I had a song on my mind that I wanted to write. Now I know I’m not a politician and I’m not trying to be so excuse me for having an opinion- but in light of all of the mass shootings and the back to back shootings in the last couple of days which really affected me on a cellular level I just wanted to post this video that our engineer Laura took 20 minutes ago. I hope you like it. I’m singing love to the choruses I recorded this morning. I’m going to call it ‘Looking for America,'” she wrote on her Instagram.
“I’m still looking for my own version of America / One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly / No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide / It’s just a dream I had in mind,” she sings. (Full lyrics down below.)
Beyond just being a beautiful, classically wistful, hauntingly sung Lana song about less worrisome days gone by while longing for a more peaceful future (which almost surely won’t make the track list of her newly announced studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell, sadly), it falls in line with the direction in which Lana’s been heading thematically since 2017’s Lust For Life, which showcased a noticeably political shift in lyricism in a time of Trump.
While Lana’s fully aware of the potential repercussions of speaking out in any capacity on social media (“excuse me for having an opinion”) and, God forbid, getting canceled for an unfavorable take – please, by all means, show me a human being with an entirely unproblematic track record, you ever-so-saintly keyboard warriors – she’s nonetheless using her platform as an artist to address the gun violence crisis plaguing this increasingly divided country.
She’s not alone in her concern, either: Madonna also just released a song and video about it in June. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.
Music is a crucial escape, and that includes Lana’s nostalgic brand of Americana, but in these moments especially, it’s kind of impossible to pretend everything’s fine in the present. Life isn’t all Bugatti Veyrons and bikinis – but it should be.
Of course, merely fantasizing about an idyllic America isn’t enough. We need to do something. But until then – if there’s ever a then – a girl can dream.
UPDATE: The studio version of “Looking for America” was released on Friday (August 9).
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