“Breaking Up Slowly” by Lana Del Rey (ft. Nikki Lane)
Overall “Breaking Up Slowly” is perhaps the simplest song on Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails album to actually understand. Maybe the reason why is that in addition to featuring Nikki Lane, a country music singer, she is also one of the track’s co-writers. And country singers, perhaps more so than any other genre, tend to get straight to the point as opposed to relying on complex metaphors and encrypted allegories.
So in this song when the ladies refer to “breaking up slowly” they mean the term exactly as most of us would interpret it, as pointing to the gradual breakdown of a romantic relationship. Or more specifically it would be the vocalists slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that it would be best for them to leave their respective partners and act upon that realization accordingly.
As for Nikki Lane, she is discontent with her love life in the present and obviously has been so for a considerable amount of time. So she doesn’t want to continue down this path, only to look back and feel as if she had wasted her life.
And in that regard she also mentions one Tammy Wynette (1942-1988) whom, if you never heard of her, is in fact a country music legend. Tammy had a number of health issues throughout the years and died prematurely at the age of 55. But what Nikki would logically be speaking to is Wynette having been involved in a couple of abusive marriages which one has to believe did not lend positively to her overall wellbeing.
Lana Del Rey
Del Rey further operates along that same line of reasoning by giving a shoutout to “George”, her own lover whose name is apparently a reference to George Jones (1931-2013).
Jones was another country music star who was in fact Tammy Wynette’s second husband, and the man she most notably claimed abused her. Well Lana is on the verge of giving her own George the boot and really doesn’t seem to be harboring any regrets about it at all. Indeed under her estimation, he should be quite aware that their relationship is coming to an end.
But this is not to say that she is not harboring any feelings at all. For as indicated in the chorus, “breaking up slowly” is not easy for either one of the vocalists.
These men who they are referring to are the exclusive holders of their hearts, after all. Also the thought of “be(ing) lonely” is totally unappealing to them. But conclusively, they would rather face such a fate than to remain in toxic relationships. Or as they feel at this point, no matter how difficult the process may be, “breaking up” is “the right thing to do”.
First Lana and Nikki Collaboration
This song marks the first collaboration between Lana Del Rey and Nikki Lane. And as alluded to earlier, both of the songstresses also wrote this song.
That makes it one of only a handful of tracks on “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” which was not co-written by Jack Antonoff, though he did produce “Breaking Up Slowly” along with Lana.
Nikki Lane is a country singer from Greenville, South Carolina. She is relatively new to the game, having become a professional musician as recently as 2010. Between then and release of this track, which transpired on 19 March 2021, she has earned the moniker of ‘First Lady of Outlaw Country’, with outlaw country being sort of gangsta country music.
Meanwhile by this point in the game Lana Del Rey, who went pro in 2005, is an established star and A+ list vocalist. For instance, she’s dropped two albums thus far which topped the Billboard 200 and four that topped the UK Singles Chart, apparently being more popular across the pond than she is in her homeland of the United States, where she is also trending.
Her last album before Chemtrails was “Norman F–king Rockwell” (2019), which was a commercial and even more so critical success. And being wise enough to strike the iron while it’s hot, Lana was prepared to Chemtrails just a year after Norman Rockwell. However, it was the coronavirus pandemic which pushed its release date into early 2021.
“Breaking Up Slowly” is a product of the omnipresent Interscope Records, who did so in conjunction with the long-standing Polydor Records.