Lana Del Rey’s “Brooklyn Baby” Is A Confused Mishmash of References
Listening to the new Lana Del Rey song “Brooklyn Baby” makes me just as angry as listening to any of the rest of her output. It’s all about displaying the signposts of vintage cool without getting any of the underpinnings. It’s like if the pretty-but-vapid Marnie from the TV show “Girls” has had a breakout single, with half-formed references that she only got half-right. It’s the artistic equivalent of someone flaunting the results of the commercialized DIY-with-help movement. It’s like showing off the cheese you are making yourself… but with a label from Pinterest and a cheese-making kit from Williams-Sonoma.
The song starts with a reference to the 70s “They think I don’t understand the freedom land of the 70s” but quickly goes to the 50s and 60s imagery when these two eras are totally different. It’s shelving “cool” eras and ideologies together like you would vintage dresses in a thrift shop.
It’s just all wrong, all together.
There are references in the song to the late 50s/early 60s beatnik scene of jazz clubs, beat poetry and amphetamines.
“I’m churning out novels like beat-poetry on amphetamines”
While I was in high school, I was pretty obsessed with the 60s of Andy Warhol and the Factory.
Then there are the song’s references to Lou Reed, or someone who plays guitar and maybe sings like him.
“Well my boyfriend’s in a band/He plays guitar and …. Lou Reed.”
If you aren’t familiar with the impact that amphetamines had on the Factory, read the book “A” or watch this short black-and-white video of Warhol Superstar Brigid Polk shooting up.
Is it the 50s in the song? The 60s? This spring’s Coachella with the indian-headdress fashion faux-pax?
“I’ve got feathers in my hair/ I get down to beat poetry
I’ve got feathers in my hair/ I get high on hydroponic weed.”
This song seems to lift all those influences, and move them wholesale from the 50s beatnik scene of the Village/60s Manhattan of the Factory to the currently hip borough of Brooklyn.
If you want a musical homage to the influence of Andy Warhol, listen to Songs for Drella.” Which was made by the actual Lou Reed.
Also, I found this cool documentary about the Factory, featuring recent interviews with some of the Superstars. It’s kind of awesome.