Lana Del Rey’s “Fingertips” Lyrics Meaning
“Fingertips” is one of the 16 tracks found on the standard playlist of “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd”, the Lana Del Rey album which officially hit the marketplace on 24 March 2023.
Lana has also, quite interestingly, admitted that, under her estimation, “Fingertips is not a good song” though once which once again “explains everything” that she’s “thinking in 2 minutes in a 7-minute song”. But that said, the sole writer and producer of the track, according to Genius, isn’t Del Rey but rather Drew Erickson, a behind-the-scenes’ musician who has worked with her extensively.
The Lyrics of “Fingertips”
This piece, which was brought to us by Polydor Records and Interscope, does read sorta like a chorusless hodgepodge of the vocalist’s thoughts. As far as the title is concerned, the song starts off with Lana, let’s say daydreaming as she ‘traces her fingertips over plastic bags’. And in doing so, she expresses a desire that the listener would be interested in hearing what it is she’s thinking about.
“When I look back, tracing fingertips over plastic bags
I think, ‘I wish I could extrapolate some small intention
Or maybe get your attention for a minute or two’”
The second verse then features the songstress ruminating over the longevity of her career as well as apparently death itself. In doing so, she seems to reference her own “father, sister [and] brother”.
And along those lines, the third verse starts off with Lana shouting out her sister, Caroline. As relayed, Del Rey is worried about this loved one’s smoking habit as well as whether or not she is actually down for the long run.
Another thing that Lana is concerned about, as expressed in the third verse, is the health of Caroline’s child as well as whether or not she personally will ever have one. Based on other Del Rey songs we’ve come across, we know that she hasn’t really been lucky in terms of finding a spouse.
But in this instance, the fact that she hasn’t given birth is seemingly attributed to others feelings that Lana lacks a motherly wherewithal, though Del Rey is more or less convinced in that regard, she “will be fine”.
It’s the fourth verse especially, the lengthiest of the entire song, which reads like a freestyle. Initially it serves as an indirect continuation of the third verse, i.e. Lana arguing that her being a tortured musician, if you will, isn’t by intent but rather a reflection of what’s going on in her soul.
She then gets to namedropping a few family members, including Uncle Dave, “who hung himself real high in the National Park sky”. Or more specifically, he died while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
And even though it doesn’t say so on his obituary and a number of outlets have skipped the fact, it seems that David Grant actually took his own life. So it’s understandable why Lana has mentioned him numerous times on this album and may be especially aggrieved that a close loved one made such a decision while she concurrently is a music star.
But that said, in terms of dealing with his death, Del Rey is, most simply put, expressing a desire to reunite with him.
Meanwhile, the fifth verse is reflective of the fact that when Lana received news of Uncle Dave’s death, she was on the verge of performing in front of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
So the show had to go on, as some would say. Therefore, she had to basically push his death to the back of her mind while performing. That may be the same instance that Lana is alluding to in the first verse of “Kintsugi”, i.e. not being around when a certain relative, “the one who was closest to” her, passed away.
The second verse starts off somewhat confusingly, in a manner of speaking, i.e. the vocalist referring to being “15 [and] naked” when her “next-door neighbors did a drive by”. Considering the expressions that come immediately thereafter, that may be a symbolic/metaphorical musing.
But what is known, according to Wikipedia, is that during that era in Lana’s life, her family resided in a part of New York known as Lake Placid. And a quick search reveals that “Lake Placid is not one of the safest communities in America” and one of least-safest in New York. So it’s also possible that she’s being literal in terms of having been in close proximity to a drive-by (shooting) at that age.
But with that being noted, afterwards the attention is once again turned to Uncle Dave. In this verse he is not mentioned directly. But Lana does refer to “swim(ming) with the fishes” and “Rhode Island beaches”, both of which David Grant was known for.
Caroline and Aaron Greene
The first line of the seventh verse is one of the most-confusing in a song filled with indirect lingo. Del Rey once again references her sister Caroline, as well as their mother also, it would seem. And one logical theory that has been put forth is that Lana’s criticizing the latter for thinking she was crazy back in the days, back when for instance Del Rey was sent to boarding school due to having developed a drinking habit.
Also mentioned in this verse is one Aaron Greene, a young man who passed away in 2007 and was apparently someone Lana grew up with. As implied, she also had a crush on him back when they were teenagers. And relatedly, her youthful desire was simply to be a young mother and live a typical, small-town girl life.
But in the verse that follows, Del Rey seems to be noting the irony of her parents’ decision to send her to boarding school. That is to say that the authoritarians opted to send her away, while it was Aaron who, in hindsight, had a bigger problem.
She closes out this segment by noting that she ‘gives herself two seconds to cry’, a statement that is also made in the fourth and fifth verses. And in all these instances, what it alludes to is the affected party – twice being Lana but also once being Uncle Dave – only having a limited time or capacity to grieve.
“Fingertips” eventually closes out with Del Rey appearing to big up her artistry by referring to herself using colorful monikers such as “Aphrodite” and “queen of empathy”.
And before concluding she also notes the purpose of this song, which was to grant her “two seconds to breathe” and also to be herself. So the implication, as noted earlier with her explanation of this track, is that Lana used it to get certain matters off of her chest, in a freer manner than the other songs found on the album.
Reading in between the lines and based on the theories put forth above, it does appear as if she remains adversely affected by the death of certain loved ones, perhaps feeling that she wasn’t around when she needed to be but more generally just sad that the person passed away. And this is amongst other, shall we say disturbing thoughts which reside in the brain, such as the sacrifices she has made in becoming an A list artist as well as issues with the way her mother treated her.
My Personal View
I had never experienced such strong emotions from a song prior to listening to “Fingertips.” This particular piece moved me deeply and on a personal level for that matter. Lana, in my view, is more than just a singer; she’s a savior, reaching out to so many of us through her music. It’s refreshing to see her confront her emotions head-on instead of pretending that everything is alright like many of us do.
Through this song I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s important to break down before gaining the courage to move forward. I have a great deal of love, respect and admiration for her.
I’m grateful Lana shared her art with us. “Fingertips” is so intimate, warm, soulful, motivating, authentic, mature, and emotional. It will forever hold a special place in my heart.