“I was at Coachella leaning on your shoulder, watching your husband swing in time/I guess I was in it ‘cause baby for a minute I thought it was Woodstock in my mind.” So go the opening lyrics to Lana Del Rey’s latest politically-tinged single, “Coachella-Woodstock In My Mind” (which sounds faintly like an airport name). But other than showing that she must have been smoking the good shit when she performed that weekend back in mid-April, it also reveals a certain faith in humanity that she’s been very candid about in her recent work (“Love” being the most akin in its regard for youths of America). And yet, let’s be honest, there are far too many distinctions between the rich pussies that go to Coachella now versus the grimy, free-lovin’ hippies of Woodstock—more prone to fuck than Instagram. This is precisely why when she sings, “What about all these children and what about all their parents?” one wishes she might have put in as a parenthetical “that paid their way to this expensive ass music festival.” As for “their wishes wrapped up like garland roses,” well, those mostly consist of getting a job that lets them work remotely and a sexual partner that isn’t cushioning, as opposed to the civil and women’s rights that drove the desire for change on the part of many Woodstockians.
But LDR remains committed to her analogy of drawing parallels between now and then (at least political upheaval-wise) by adding, “Then the next mornin’ they put out the warnin’/Tensions were risin’ over country lines.” In case you’re not a devotee of Lana, this refers to the day she drove back from the festival and felt inclined to sing a freshly created a cappella song for her followers inspired by the fear in the air—prompted by Trumpio’s escalating contention with North Korea. At the time, she commented, “I’m not gonna lie, I had complex feelings about spending the weekend dancing whilst watching tensions in North Korea mount. I find it’s a tight rope between being vigilantly observant of everything going on in the world and also having enough time to appreciate God’s good earth the way it was intended to be appreciated.”
Reminding us all of her until now latent spiritual side—spurred on no doubt by being a philosophy major at Fordham—Lana attempts a sort of folksy meets Christian country motif with her insistence, “I’d give it all away if you’d give me just one day to ask Him one question.” Yes, what if God was one of us? In spite of it coming across as a bit hokey, the thing to note about “Coachella-Woodstock In My Mind” is that it is the most overtly religious Del Rey has ever gotten with her work—just as, formerly, politics had never really been a topic she chose to broach. So, if for nothing else, “Coachella-Woodstock In My Mind” continues to reveal that, while Del Rey might remain a soul that belongs to the 60s, it doesn’t mean romantic heartbreak and suicidal tendencies expressed through a Shangri-Las/Joni Mitchell tone is all she’s capable of exploring through the lens of this decade.
Even the backing track deviates from the norm, with one aspect eliciting faint remembrances of the fast-paced, manipulated horn sound in “Forgot About Dre.”
She hasn’t let go of her knack for California love either, somehow fitting in the word “hella” by rhyming it with “Coachella” (but then, what else rhymes with it—“fella?”). This might placate her most loyal of fans, though, as she mentions offhandedly, “Critics can be so mean sometimes.” However, in this case, they might be justified in not totally feeling this neo-Joan Osborne sound. Moreover, she once again rips lyrics directly from her idols by declaring, “I’d trade it all for a stairway to heaven,” the Led Zeppelin term fitting quite nicely with her lunar and galaxy obsession (yet another très 60s trait about the chanteuse).
While the track is adequate, perhaps it’s that we’re just not yet used to this ethereal side of Del Rey—the way it may have taken mainstream audiences a minute to embrace Madonna as a Kabbalist making electronica music on Ray of Light. Perhaps Del Rey comes on too cheerily with the phrase, “Maybe my contribution could be as small as hoping that words could turn to birds and birds could send my thoughts your way.” And if “ifs” and “buts” were candies and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. I can only hope she trolls me back for saying all of this.