Lana Del Rey
Photo by Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty Images

The Mythologies of Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

In this episode of The Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics talk about the singer-songwriter’s one-of-a-kind career as well as her latest exercise in postmodern poeticism.

Our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the new records we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible, as well as interviews with some of our favorite artists. This week, Reviews Director Jeremy D. Larson hosts Senior Editor Anna Gaca and Contributing Writer Olivia Horn to break down all the references and personal themes embedded into Lana Del Rey’s ninth album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.

Listen to this week’s episode below, and follow The Pitchfork Review here. You can also check out an excerpt of the podcast’s transcript below. 

Jeremy D. Larson: What are some of the recurring motifs that you noticed on this record? 

Olivia Horn: There are definitely a couple of thematic throughlines that are really helpful in orienting the listener. One of them being family, one of them being the idea of child rearing. There’s a lot about death. There’s a lot about the idea of legacy and questions about the future too. 

There’s also the lyric “let the light in,” which is itself the throughline in the song “Kintsugi.” It’s also a reference to Leonard Cohen, and then there’s an echo of it in the song “Let the Light In,” featuring Father John Misty. Those reverberations are internal in terms of Lana’s discography and then external in terms of all of the references that she is making to other artists. 

Larson: One of the other references is to John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” from the first song on the album, “The Grants.” And the Rocky Mountains are also where her uncle sadly died in 2016. She sings a lot about her uncle on the album, and the songs about him are are some of my favorites on here. 

Anna Gaca: There’s a moment on one of the songs where she talks about her uncle, “Fingertips,” that makes me feel almost like I’m dreaming when I hear it. It’s really a sad and emotional song about living through a lot of deaths in your family, and then the second half of the song, Lana starts to grieve for the mother she never had. But if you notice, as you’re listening, when you get to the line where she would say, “What kind of mother is she?” the word “mother” is faded out, and there’s a little sparkling noise instead. And I was like, Whoa, you’ll write that line down, but you won’t sing it and put it in the song.

Larson: It’s like she simply couldn’t let her mother hear that she’s actually upset about how she was treated as a child. Oof. That part gave me chills.