Lana Del Rey’s “Looking for America” Lyrics Meaning
Lana Del Rey made “Looking for America” in direct response to back-to-back mass shooting which occurred in the United States a few days prior to its release. And anyone who is privy to the current events in America circa this track’s issuance would know that such incidences have evolved into a persistent problem in the titular country. And it is this reality which the singer is addressing via this track.
The setting of this song is the songstress traveling from New York to California and back to New York. That is to say, on a symbolic level, that considering these places are on two opposite sides of the country, she has traversed the entire United States. And what she sees causes her to reminisce simpler days. Or more specifically, she remembers a time when mass shootings were not an issue. For instance, in that era people were only concerned about their children being out at night. But now, even the luxury of daylight cannot be taken for granted in ensuring their safety.
And while it may sound like Del Rey is recounting her own childhood, keep in mind that, being born in 1985, it was during her youth that the modern era of mass shootings begin. Yes, the issue was not as prevalent then as it is now. However, it is more likely that Del Rey is actually fantasizing about a version of the country which actually predates her generation. In other words, the “America” she is looking for is more or less in the idyllic sense.
This may be why for instance she states that she envisions the country as one with “no bombs in the sky”. Mass killers aren’t known for using bombs. Bombs are rather weapons of warfare, and the last war to be fought on US soil was well over a century ago. Indeed the aforementioned phrase actually sounds like a derivative of the line “bombs bursting in air” from “The Star-Spangled Banner”, a product of the 19th century. So it can be argued that the America she envisions is one devoid of both guns and warfare.
Free flying Flag
She also introduces a political factor into the equation, stating that her ideal version of America is one “where the flag can freely fly“. This of course is a metaphor alluding to a general support of patriotism. Yet it also alludes to the time in which this song was written. Indeed in a lot of ways it can be said that during its era, patriotism is at an all-time low, with some people even blaming the President of the United States for the aforementioned shootings.
But her stance on guns is obviously the most-realistic aspect of her vision. That is to say that whenever the United States suffers a really-bad mass shooting, politicians (and the general public) start harping on the issue of gun control. And considering that the “version of America” the singer is “looking for” is “one without the gun”, this track can definitely be classified as one supporting the side of those who advocate gun control.
So basically what we have here is a popular musician espousing gun control – similar to what Madonna recently did via her track “God Control”. However, in Lana’s case she did so freshly after the occurrence of two harrowing shootings which happened within 24 hours of each other. That is to say that even while on the road enjoying herself, she could not shake the reality of innocent lives being perpetually at risk from her mind.
Writing of “Looking for America”
Once again, it should be noted that Del Rey penned this song in response to a number of mass shootings (including the 2019 El Paso shooting) that took place across America between July and August of 2019. She wrote the song in Los Angeles alongside noted songwriter and singer Jack Antonoff. Del Rey and Antonoff also worked together to have the track produced.
Note: This isn’t the firs track Antonoff has written with Del Rey. Some of their well know collaborations include:
- “Mariners Apartment Complex”
- “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it“
Release Date of “Looking for America”
On 9th August, 2019, Del Rey formally released this song. The release was primarily done through a number of streaming services, including Spotify.