Song of the Day #4,101: ‘California’ – Lana Del Rey

Continuing my countdown of the songs on Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell.

5. ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’ – This was the other single released a full year ago, and it has been a definite favorite of mine ever since. In fact, if I had heard this song for the first time as an album track it may well be at the top of this list. But I’ve known it for so long now that I’m giving the newer songs an edge for the accompanying sense of discovery.

4. ‘Happiness is a butterfly’ – Another track I had at #1 for a spell before settling on my final order, this is a delicate and haunting ballad inspired by a quote from novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne’s: “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” As with the protagonist of ‘Cinnamon Girl,’ this song depicts a woman who feels she has nothing left to lose. “If he’s a serial killer, then what’s the worst that can happen to a girl who’s already hurt?”

3. ‘California’ – A heady mix of the soft balladry so prevalent on this album and a more driving chorus. With so many California references on NFW, this song goes ahead and just makes the Golden State its title. Here, the protagonist is showing support for a man spending time overseas, in a reversal of Joni Mitchell’s ‘California,’ which depicts the ex-pat promising to return to the States (Del Rey directly references lyrics in Mitchell’s song with mentions of Vogue and Rolling Stone).

[Intro]
(One, two, three, four)

[Verse 1]
You don’t ever have to be stronger than you really are
When you’re lying in my arms, baby
You don’t ever have to go faster than your fastest pace
Or faster than my fastest cars

[Pre-Chorus]
I shouldn’t have done it, but I read it in your letter
You said to a friend that you wish you were doing better
I wanted to reach out, but I never said a thing
I shouldn’t have done it, but I read it in your letter
You said to a friend that you wish you were doing better
I wanted to call you, but I didn’t say a thing
(Two, three, four)

[Chorus]
Oh, I’ll pick you up
If you come back to America, just hit me up
‘Cause this is crazy love, I’ll catch you on the flip side
If you come back to California, you should just hit me up
We’ll do whatever you want, travel wherever how far
We’ll hit up all the old places
We’ll have a party, we’ll dance ’til dawn
I’ll pick up all of your Vogues and all of your Rolling Stones
Your favorite liquor off the top shelf
I’ll throw a party all night long

[Verse 2]
You don’t ever have to be stronger than you really are
When you’re lying in my arms, and, honey
You don’t ever have to act cooler than you think you should
You’re brighter than the brightest stars

[Pre-Chorus]
You’re scared to win, scared to lose
I’ve heard the war was over if you really choose
The one in and around you
You hate the heat, you got the blues
Changing like the weather, oh, that’s so like you
The Santa Ana moves you
(Two, three, four)

[Chorus]
Oh, I’ll pick you up
If you come back to America, just hit me up
‘Cause this is crazy love, I’ll catch you on the flip side
If you come back to California, you should just hit me up
We’ll do whatever you want, travel wherever how far
We’ll hit up all the old places
We’ll have a party, we’ll dance ’til dawn
I’ll pick up all of your Vogues and all of your Rolling Stones
Your favorite liquor off the top shelf
I’ll throw a party all night long

[Outro]
Oh, I’ll pick you up
If you come back to America, just hit me up
‘Cause this is crazy love, I’ll catch you on the flip side
If you come back to California, you should just hit me up

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,101: ‘California’ – Lana Del Rey

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Always a good sign to reflect a Joni Mitchell influence.

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