Lana Del Rey’s “The Greatest” Lyrics Meaning

The song “The Greatest” may have garnered attention due to the fact the Lana Del Rey references famous people and events like Kanye West, the Beach Boys and the wildfires which have recently devastated the state of California. However, these namedrops by and large are afterthoughts in relation to the track’s main narrative, as it is not actually about any of those subjects. Rather “The Greatest” finds the songstress missing her ex and old buddies. And along that line of thought she also misses the particular era of her life spent with them, as she considers those days to be more easygoing than the present.

The song is set in both California and New York, with the singer reminiscing on time spent respectively with her lover and friends in those locations. This era was marked by Lana simply enjoying her life without any major responsibilities. Or as she artistically puts it, she “was doing nothing the most of all”. That basically means that she spent the majority of her time free from any considerable labors.

Moreover at that juncture “the culture” she was a part of was “lit”, as in very excitable. Thus she collectively classifies no longer having these past individuals, carefreeness and excitement in her life as “the greatest loss of all”. That is to say, in the simplest terms, that Lana misses yesteryear, specifically in regards to spending time with the people whom she loves.

Notable References in “The Greatest”

The Kanye and Los Angeles references, amongst others, make their appearance during the track’s outro.  The sentiment Lana is putting forth in the closing part of the song is one tantamount to being concerned about the general state of the world. And the way this seems to fit into the overall narrative of “The Greatest” is that it highlights how now her mind is preoccupied with distressing thoughts as opposed to time past, as in illustrating that the singer misses being carefree.

Lyrics of "The Greatest"

8 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    It sounds like a goodbye song to me. The greatest loss of them all, if this is it I’m signing off, I guess I’m burnt out after all, nobody wants you before the fall, the culture is lit and I had a ball… sound like she’s giving up on music. The greatest loss might be the end of her making music. I wholeheartedly hope this is not the case. She’s been one of the best of this decade.

    • YB says:

      Not necessarily true – she confirmed she’s writing her next album “White Hot Forever” already.
      And if that were the case, this would probably be the last song on the album.

  2. ysa says:

    she’s not retiring. she wants a break. everyone gets tired. she needs a break, really. yes it’s painful on my part but i respect her decisions whatever it is.

  3. Nigel Hogarth says:

    Dennis is Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys. Why does nobody understand that. Is everyone too young to understand the California music herltage the Beach Boys brought?

  4. irfan says:

    can you helpe me… what is the meaning of this song about M.Ali

  5. Nichole M.Charbonneau says:

    I think this song is about her drinking. She had a romance with a man and they drank and had fun. There was an innocence about her drinking “i was doing nothing at all” now she misses this man , he’d possibly seen her at a low point and that’s the fall she’s talking about The fall lead her to stop drinking. But you can’t have it both ways. I think she feels as though this man was the only thing she had to hold on to. And that was the greatest loss of all and to drinking itself Do you have to throw away your mask when you get sober You’re completely naked. That’s even a loss to. You don’t have anything to hide behind anymore in this song she’s telling the man that he doesn’t have to leave her even though her drinking is so bad that all she needs is a wake-up call. And that she would be okay. Being somebody in recovery I really believe us what this is about. And I can relate. On many levels The song is about losing someone due to your alcoholism. And it being such a heartbreaking thing.

  6. The greatest says:

    I think this song, most of all, is about the cultural shift that is going on and how she feels that she can no longer relate to it. She feels out of the loop with the younger generation and she remembers what were her good ol’ days. She does not find herself in this new ‘lit’ culture and wishes she could return to the past when everything was better and she was carefree. The end with the fires and fireballs suggest the urgency and the fast pace at which everything is happening now. Every day a new ‘disaster’ seems to be happening and she misses the days when things were slower and she could just relax and let time pass by without doing nothing.

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