“Doin’ Time” by Lana Del Rey

The lyrics of Lana Del Rey’s “Doin’ Time” deals with two distinctly-different topics. As far as the chorus is concerned, it centers on the wherewithal of the singer and her bandmates to make the party jump, particularly within the confines of “the L.B.C.” (Long Beach, California). It is also made explicitly clear that they are doing so during the “summertime”, giving the lyrics an overall feel-good vibe.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Lana Del Rey's Doin’ Time at Lyrics.org.

However, in terms of the verses, they deal with the unfaithfulness of the singer’s girlfriend. And in that regard, it should be noted that this is actually the cover of a song that was originally sung by a male lead. But overall, being bound to this particular lover is frustrating the storyteller. She depicts her girlfriend as someone who is “evil, most definitely” and whom she would like to “hold her head underwater” – all in the “summertime”.

So again this track runs along two different themes. On one hand, it is a summer-based party song. But in terms of the actual title, what the singer likely means by “Doin’ Time”, a phrase commonly associated with serving a prison sentence, is that she is in love with a partner whose cheating ways are driving her crazy.

The narrator therefore feels stuck in prison (“doin’ time”) because of her unfaithful, cold partner. However, despite all that, she still finds a reason to party.

Lyrics of "Doin' Time"

Facts about “Doin’ Time”

  • This song was originally released by the American ska punk band Sublime in 1997. This makes Lana Del Rey’s version technically a cover.
  • Based on the aforementioned information, Lana receives no songwriting credits on this song.
  • Record producers watt and Happy Perez worked with Lana Del Rey to produce her version of this song.
  • Lana released “Doin’ Time” on May 17th, 2019. On May 7, 2019 (ten days prior to its release), she teased the song.

On which of Lana Del Rey’s albums does “Doin’ Time” appear?

It is highly likely that it would appear on her sixth studio album. That album is titled Norman F*cking Rockwell.

Who wrote “Doin’ Time”?

About eight songwriters (including the late Bradley Nowell of Sublime) are credited with writing “Doin’ Time”. The other writers are as follows: 

  • Rick Rubin
  • Marshall Goodman
  • Ira Gershwin
  • George Gershwin
  • DuBose Heyward
  • Ad-Rock
  • Adam Yauch

14 Responses

  1. Meg Mason says:

    Sublime did a cover of Summertime. Janis Joplin sang this song in the 60’s and even THEN, it was a cover from Billie Holiday!

    • Replicant Girl says:

      And EVEN THEN , they were ALL covers…. Original “Summertime” is from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess.

      • Natti A says:

        I thought the only part taken was “Summertime and the livings easy”

      • vlada says:

        and the Summertime from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess was inspired by ukrainian national lullaby Gershwin heard in New York performed by the Ukrainian National Choir under the direction of Oleksandr Koshyts in 1929

  2. Z Man says:

    In the original Sublime song, The bar “Summertime and the livings easy” was originally written as “Doin’ Time and the livings easy” however, the Gershwin estate would not clear the sample unless it was changed to say “summertime”. Bradley Nowell had passed away so Michael “Miguel” Happolt went into the studio and sang the “Summertime” part and mixed it into the track so it could be released on the album.

    As far as Rick Rubin, Adrock and MCA having writers credits, that’s because of the Beastie Boys samples used throughout the song. All samples aside, the song as we know it was written by Bradley Nowell and Marshall Goodman AKA Ras MG

  3. melanie says:

    don’t forget about Louis Armstrong’s “summertime”

  4. Scumrat says:

    I don’t like how this almost makes it sound as if she wrote it when she absolutely did not. She’s just covered the song. They have no right to say she meant the song to mean a certain thing when she didn’t even write it herself.

    • SMF says:

      Hi Scumrat, it has been stated clearly on multiple occasions in the article that this song wasn’t written or originally released by Lana. She is just the narrator of the song. Simply put, she is portraying the role of the song’s narrator/speaker.

  5. Lucky Pierre says:

    When you find out a song you like is a cover, you feel cheated. I like that. Smooth sailing doesn’t exist. Kind of like no good deed goes unpunished. When everything seems to be working out for you- just wait a few minutes. You’re always in line for a big ass fucking. You just hope it’s not Leroy stretching your ass.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s Long Beach CITY, not Long Beach California. I knew Brad (The lead singer for Sublime) before he died, when I lived in Long Beach.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I like Del Ray’s version 100x better than Sublime’s. She took a nothing song and made it searing and hypnotic.

    • Anonymous says:

      I 100% agree with this!! It’s one of my favorite LDR songs, but I just listened to the original and didn’t like it at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s subjctive oppinion, for me I heard the sublime version first so I just feels belong to the music more than del ray’s version.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Besides the 1 line, Summertime and the livin is easy, it’s not the same song as Billie Holiday’s, at all. Totally different lyrics and melody.

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