Lana Del Rey’s “Looking for America” Is a Dream for an America Without Mass Shootings

All proceeds from the song will go to relief funds for victims of the Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton shootings.

Panoramic/ZUMA

“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,” sings Lana Del Rey as she opens up the chorus on her newest track, “Looking For America.” In teasing the song on Instagram, Del Rey was explicit about its subject: 

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.

Del Rey’s whole brand is nostalgia—not for a specific era but for some vague sense of 20th century Americana situated somewhere between the Camelot of the Kennedys and the Laurel Canyon of the ’70s. There’s the Jackie Kennedy inspired video for “National Anthem.” (A$AP Rocky is featured as the John F. Kennedy doppelgänger.) There’s her song titled “American.” There’s her cover art. It’s nostalgia for nostalgia itself. 

Her talent for evoking a place that never was is brought fully to bear on “Looking For America,” one of her best tracks to date. The song’s beauty is in the lyrics. They’re full of classic Del Rey nostalgia, yet instead of defaulting to escapism as she usually does (“High By The Beach“), she wanted to depict a shattering reality. “Pulled over to watch the children in the park, we  used to only worry for them after dark,” she sings. “I used to go to drive-ins and listen to the blues, so many things that I think twice about before I do, no.”

That last lyric reminds me of the horrifying video of people fleeing Times Square after mistaking a motorcycle backfiring for gun shots.

Places of worship, music festivals, schools, bars, shopping centers. The unfortunate reality of living in America means that we have to be prepared for any public space to become a war zone within minutes.

“Looking For America” is tasteful and thorough—all proceeds of the songs are going to relief programs for the shootings. Del Rey has taken on one of the most pressing issues of the moment and managed to capture the ambient longing for relief.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.