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

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

“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.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly 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