Lana Del Rey offers a complex character capsule on the rarified ‘A&W’

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Lana Del Rey’s ‘A&W’, is one of those Lana tracks that marks a flashpoint in her discography, a head-turning song that is the second single from the artist’s upcoming ninth album Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.

A&W is a root beer brand, but the A&W really stands for ‘American Whore’. The track was co-written and co-produced by Jack Antonoff, and is split into two parts, ‘Part I: American Whore’ and ‘Part II: Jimmy’.

Arriving after the more atypical rousing song of the album title, ‘A&W’ begins in a standard Lana fashion but it soon becomes apparent that there’s anguish and hurt in her whispered lyrics that immediately address her mother with scorn (“I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine / I haven’t seen my mother in a long, long time”)

The song echoes the multi-faceted sounds of Lana’s past – of songs like 2015’s ‘High By The Beach’, the polychromatic songwriting of 2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell, or the folk of 2021’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club.

Lana can do cinematic yes, but this feels widescreen in a self-contained capsule, a duelling duality of song.

It’s Lana in limbo, in a cheap hotel, seeking solace in an outline of a man, in between languishing watching TV – seeking forensic crime programmes but settling on misnaming a film where a 15-year-old girl gets into a relationship with her mother’s boyfriend, which references sexual exploitation.

[Trigger warning] There are difficult lyrics about people’s perceptions of her, with reference to being a victim of a sexual crime and whether she was “asking for it” while alluding to the traumatic difficulty of recounting those experiences to others (” Didn’t testify, already fucked up my story / On top of this (Mm), so many other things you can’t believe / Did you know a singer can still be lookin’ like a side piece at thirty-three?”

The second half ‘Jimmy’ interpolates a 1959 R&B hit, that Tom Hanks recites in the film Big, after the song introduces a menacing bassline, and Lana sings of the titular man who is using her, and her way out of the temporary relief is to criticise in order to break the spell – “Your mom called, I told her you’re fucking up big time.”

Mothers are the spectral ghost of ‘A&W’ haunting this three-star resort limbo.

Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is out on March 24th.

Lana Del Rey – A&W Lyrics

[Part I: American Whore] [Verse 1]
I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine
I haven’t seen my mother in a long, long time
I mean, look at me, look at the length of my hair, my face, the shape of my body
Do you really think I give a damn what I do after years of just hearing them talking?

[Pre-Chorus]
I say I live in Rosemead, really, I’m at the Ramada
It doesn’t really matter, doesn’t really, really matter

[Chorus]
Call him up, come into my bedroom
Ended up, we fuck on the hotel floor
It’s not about having someone to love me anymorе
This is the experiеnce of being an American whore

See Also
Blur film trailer

[Verse 2]
Called up one friend, call up another
Forensic Files wasn’t on
Watching Teenage Diary of a Girl
Wondering what went wrong
I’m a princess, I’m divisive
Ask me why I’m like this
Maybe I’m just kinda like this
I don’t know, maybe I’m just like this

[Pre-Chorus]
I say I live in Rosemead, really, I’m at the Ramada
It doesn’t really matter, doesn’t really, really matter

[Chorus]
Call him up, he comes over again
Yeah, I know I’m over my head, but, oh
It’s not about having someone to love me anymore
No, this is the experience of being an American whore

[Verse 3]
I mean, look at my hair, look at the length of it there and the shape of my body
If I told you that I was raped, do you really think that anybody would think I didn’t ask for it, didn’t ask for it?
Didn’t testify, already fucked up my story
On top of this (Mm), so many other things you can’t believe
Did you know a singer can still be lookin’ like a side piece at thirty-three?
God’s a charlatan, don’t look back, babe
Puts the shower on while he calls me
Sneaks out the back door to talk to me
I’m invisible, look how you hold me
I’m invisible, I’m invisible
I’m a ghost now, look how you hold me now

[Chorus]
It’s not about having someone to love me anymore (Oh, okay)
No, this is the experience of being an American whore
It’s not about having someone to love me anymore
No, this is the experience of being an American whore

[Part II: Jimmy] [Intro]
This is the experience of being an American whore
This is the experience of being an American whore

[Chorus]
Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop, Jimmy, Jimmy ride
Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop, Jimmy, get me high (Oh, my God)
Love me if you live and love, you can be my light
Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high
Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high
Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high
Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high


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