The chorus of violins weep and cry in the first stanza of Lana Del Rey's new single Honeymoon. Within seconds, I am reminded of Jerry Goldsmith's unforgettable score from Roman Polanski's Chinatown and I was overwhelmed by nostalgia. I love Los Angeles and I love Lana Del Rey. With Honeymoon, their distinct aesthetic sensibilities have merged into one beautiful notion. Lana Del Rey is Los Angeles Noir.
A Northeasterner, Lana Del Rey has finally come home. She belongs in L.A. Lana has played with the city in the past. She gets it. Honeymoon ups the ante. There is a 1935 statue at the edge of Echo Park Lake, titled "Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles." The tall, Deco, crowned Queen looks like Lana. The statue has winked at me more than once.
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Thankfully, I had been smoking and drinking when I first heard Honeymoon. It was like a speedball of overwhelming sentiment that doubled the pleasure and the passion. Two of my most beloved deities came together and blossomed into something new. I love Los Angeles and I love Lana Del Rey. Everything about them.
Honeymoon is L.A. Noir in every academic and aesthetic respect. Therefore, so is Lana.
The lyrics of Honeymoon first read:
"We both know that it's not fashionable to love me
But you don't go, cause truly, there's nobody for you but me"
True Love is hard and it hurts in Los Angeles. Angelenos love very deeply. Lana is needy; she wails "Say you want me too." In the Noir conceit, love is tragically bound.
In Noir, sex is many things. Sex is hungry, vengeful, a whirl and a prison. Lana sings, "There are roses in between my thighs and a fire that surrounds you."
A twist of plot and a shift of allegiance are characteristic. "It's no wonder every man in town had neither fought nor found you. Everything you do is elusive." The complicated human mind has many facets in the tortured dark. We are mystery. "Everything you do is elusive, to even your honey dew."
Love is dangerous, a powder keg to dance around.
"We both know the history of violence that surrounds you
But I'm not scared, there's nothing to lose, now that I've found you.
The allusion grows darker, blacker and blue.
"There are guns that blaze around you.
In Noir, the end is always fiery, brutal and tragic. Lana sings, "Mr. Born To Lose," without any pity or shame. Just the love of the loser, the noble chump who tosses it all for a dime, a dame and maybe a lost cause. Lana likes the rebel defiance, the cut against the grain. She states, "We make the rules."
Lana sings Honeymoon like a dirge, a sad and soft caress, a farewell. She lingers. She savors. She sighs. When she repeats the chorus, "Our Honeymoon," Lana makes it very personal.
Los Angeles is on the edge of the continent. There is No Further West. The pioneer city inspires candor. Honeymoon's orchestration may be laden with messages, but Lana puts Los Angeles squarely in the lyrics.
"We could cruise to the blues
Wilshire Boulevard if we choose
I choose Wilshire. In my dreams, Lana and I have often cruised Wilshire in my convertible, usually a lazy, Sunday afternoon drive.
By her essence, Lana is timeless. She is, after all, our Gatsby girl. In my dreams, she fits, snuggled in, with my arm around her shoulder in the open seat of my '26 Duesenberg convertible. Cruising down Wilshire, toward Beverly Hills, we drive through Orange Groves. The orange blossoms drift from the trees and gather in her hair.
Later in the Fifties, Lana and I are on the lam. The day is hot, the wind is blowing wild and we are thirsty. I gun the engine of the Chevy and she giggles. The stakes are higher now and Lana wants to go faster. Hell, we have nowhere to get to fast.
"We could cruise to the news
Pico Boulevard in your used little bullet car, if we choose
Timeless Lana. We spend most of my dreamtime in the Seventies on the Strip. The Hollywood hills are alive with the sound of music. When we get too fried, we crash at the Chateau Marmont. She likes the pool. Lana is Los Angeles forever.
"Dreaming away your life
Dreaming away your life
Dreaming away your life
Lana adds a new chorus at the end, a haunting fade. It is also the historic Los Angeles mandate, "Dream your life away." It is what we Angelenos do best. People have always come to Los Angeles to dream, to get lost, to vanish and blow away in the dust.
The L.A. literary canon has cast Lana well. Del Rey is Faye Greener from Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust. John Fante looked at her hard and longingly in Ask The Dust. She is James Ellroy's Black Dahlia.
Lana Del Rey really belongs to Raymond Chandler. She is every girl that detective Phillip Marlowe ever brushed shoulders with. From Velma Valento to Vivian Sternwood, Del Rey belongs in the beer joints on Broadway and the lux mansion in the hills.
There is a pale golden glow that always surrounds Lana, whenever I see her face. Her halo is the same color as a Southern California sunset.
Lana Del Rey has come home to Los Angeles, her spiritual home, the home of her true soul and sensibility. Honeymoon declares that she is Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles, Our Queen of Los Angeles.