Lana Del Rey – “American” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Lana Del Rey’s “American” is a lyrical love letter to youth, nostalgia, and Americana. The song wraps you in the charm of vintage America, from classic rock idols like Springsteen and Elvis to the sun-kissed vibes of L.A. It captures the feeling of a timeless summer where love and freedom intertwine. The underlying message seems to be about embracing your identity, feeling alive, and being proud of where you come from.

Let’s understand why this song is an ode to the beauty of the past, the excitement of youth, and the pride of one’s origins.


“American” Lyrics Meaning

From the opening lines, there’s a sense of escapism. Playing favorite records and “getting down” set the tone. The allusions to Springsteen and Elvis – two iconic American musicians – reinforce the nostalgia and Lana’s admiration for classic Americana.

The repeated chorus, “You make me crazy, you make me wild,” emphasizes the passionate and wild nature of young love, equating that overwhelming feeling to American youth and freedom. It’s a sentiment echoed by the lines, “Just like a baby, spin me ’round like a child.” Lana presents an image of carefree, youthful love, almost reminiscent of a merry-go-round, with its ups and downs, but ultimately fun.

The lines “Your skin so golden brown” and “Be young, be dope, be proud” are intriguing. They seem to portray the ideal of American beauty and the spirit of being young, bold, and proud in the country you’re in.

The bridge, “Everybody wants to go fast but they can’t compare,” touches on the idea of living life to the fullest. It’s not about the speed or thrill; it’s about the experiences and memories that last. The lines, “I don’t really want the rest, only you can take me there,” emphasize the depth of her connection with this individual or the idea of America itself.

The Story Behind “American”

Lana Del Rey, often known for her ethereal, haunting tunes, has a penchant for drawing inspiration from classic Americana. With “American,” she crafts an affectionate homage, not just to a person, but possibly to the United States itself, the landscapes of her youth, and the icons that defined those eras.

During the period when “American” was written, Lana was coming into her own as an artist. She’d faced both adoration and scrutiny from the media. This song appears as a personal retreat, a journey back to simpler times, days of sun-soaked California roads, and the glamorous allure of old Hollywood.

Lana often mentioned her adoration for vintage America in interviews. This song might be her way of connecting with those golden eras she didn’t personally experience but felt a deep connection to. The references to Springsteen and Elvis aren’t just casual name drops; they represent a time in America when music was a transformative force, a beacon of hope and freedom.

Furthermore, Lana’s own journey in the music industry reflects the song’s themes. Just as she speaks of the ups and downs of love in the track, she had her highs and lows, from breakout hits to controversies. “American” seems to be her pausing and reminiscing, finding solace in the ageless allure of American icons and the ideals they represent.

In conclusion, “American” is Lana’s lyrical yearning for the past, a way to celebrate the icons and eras she cherishes while simultaneously understanding her place in the vast tapestry of American music.