I was, of course, aware of Lana Del Rey for many years. I mean, she is a beautiful, famous singer/songwriter, but I don’t think I ever consciously or purposely listen to any of her music. Until that song came on the radio a couple of weeks ago. Immediately I felt something strange, some deep yearning for something undefined yet, but nevertheless already important. After I got home, I listened to that song again, and again, and again… It happens — there are songs that require my instantaneous re-listen after hearing them for the first time, but I don’t recall ever having a song on the loop for an hour while I was sitting in my chair, headphones on, eyes closed — just listening, not even thinking, just soaking all the emotions in.
The lyrics themselves are very significant — about patriarchy, innocence (lost), experience (gained), and finally empowerment. And the emotions in Lana Del Rey’s voice are so real and harrowing that immediately is clear that it what she sings about and that experience is very significant for her. The song is just perfectly crafted, with just right sparse notes and quickly raising and fading crescendos. But her voice — the raw emotion between delicate and assurance — that makes it special.
But there is something else. It took me a while to understand it. I realized that after several listenings — that song ignites a deep memory in me. A memory of a faraway place many years ago. A place where I lived for only a year and yet, it shaped me in ways that I still experience as my personality today. A small town in upstate New York, and me — a twenty-one-year-old, trying my hand at being an adult for a first time. All my failures and all my highs. People I met there, a person I become there. I think that living there, for the first time in my life, I understood the passage of time. I don’t know if I ever will go back to that place, and that might be for the best to preserve an intact memory of something special, unspoiled by the reality of passing years. This memory that song brought to the surface gripped my heart and all my emotions to the point of tears. And I let the tears flow.
That is how I recognize a great art — by the pure emotions it brings out in me. And Lana Del Rey created an amazing art in this song.