In 2015, on the day of Lana Del Rey’s “High by the Beach” single release, an interview detailing her passion for the work of Elon Musk and SpaceX seemed almost antithetical to this end of the summer lament, all earthen yearnings (specifically for what weed enthusiasts like to call “the most natural thing in the world”) and a wistful desire to live a quiet life. Then again, what could be quieter than the abyss of outer space?
Factoring in Del Rey’s affinity for the 60s, all space race obsessed in the height of the Cold War as it was, it seems fitting that she would take a vested interest in the future of aeronautics (one can just imagine her releasing a song called “Cosmonaut”–or having a dalliance with one, for that matter). As Del Rey said in non sequitur promotion of Honeymoon, “[I have other interests], like what Elon Musk is doing with SpaceX… Just seeing where we’re going, because technologically, we’re advancing so quickly, I don’t want to miss any of it. I feel like we’re on the cusp just the way they were in the 60s, but in a different way.” That cusp was further transcended on February 6th, when Musk launched Falcon Heavy from Florida (incidentally, where LDR just had a near brush with a stalker who verbalized plans to kidnap her–always with the creeps in fucking Florida), a new variation on the previously unsuccessful Falcon 9.
Designed to carry the equivalent of five London double decker buses as its payload, the maiden voyage, which Musk believed only had a 50/50 chance of success, was intended to prove that this SpaceX rocket can carry payloads within the orbit of Mars. Life-changing implications, to be sure–especially with regard to water supply.
But getting back to the Del Rey connection, one can’t help but think of what might have been exchanged, information-wise, during the conversation she had with the billionaire inventor–an event that she would call “one of the best days of [her] life.” Was it possibly because he gave her the visual inspiration for the “Love” video? One would think so. An old pickup truck (the very one she appears on the cover of Lust for Life with) miraculously turns on–much to the joy of a girlfriend pleased over her boyfriend’s magic touch with “putting his key in the ignition”–at the beginning of the video, and then finds itself eventually orbiting outer space as seen through the eye of Del Rey, who looks up at the ceiling above her audience to see a giant moon surrounded by stars.
The truck soon begins swirling with serenity before the moon, and later, another retro-looking car of a red hue hurtles toward the fiery sun. Red. Also, as it happens, the color of the Tesla that Musk chose to embody the “fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value” criteria for launching toward Mars. Or rather, a cherry red. Cherry, like the name of Del Rey’s next single. The underlying and obvious correlations between the Falcon Heavy mission and the narrative of “Love” are even similar in their themes: an optimistic view of what humanity can achieve through faith in itself and all that has brought us this far (though some cynics might argue that if this is “far” they might prefer to return to the Primordial Era). Does it mean our descendants will probably have to leave this planète in order to survive and in so doing perhaps be concerned with less frivolous things than their forebears (like love and material acquisitiveness) as they learn how to navigate a new world? Likely so. But the hope for our species is implied by the Musk/Del Rey belief in a long and continued future for the human race that is so readily evident in both “Love” and the image of the “Starman” mannequin listening to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” with, somewhere on board, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series in tow.
On December 22, 2017, Del Rey posted a video of one of Musk’s test rockets in the sky, captioning it, “Scared the shit out of me. If this isn’t one of Elon’s rockets I swear to God I’m gonna jump into the ocean.” An altogether different ending to the “High by the Beach” video that would have been. However, maybe the image of that rocket greased the wheels for a scene from “Love” that shows the “the kids” she speaks of watching shooting stars in the sky that could just as easily pass for rockets–a moment that conjures parallels to a picture released on February 6th of two boosters from the launch returning to touchdown just south of the Kennedy Space Center. This persistent affinity with and interest in the work of Musk that Del Rey has maintained seems to be, in retrospect, a clear influence on her work. Either that, or as many of her acolytes believe, she is the closest thing we have to a modern day prophet.