In that recent interview with the Guardian:
Del Rey likes to describe the more tumultuous periods of her life in romantic terms: she says she'd often spend her nights wandering around New York – "West Side Highway, Lower East Side, parts of Brooklyn" – meeting strangers and seeing where the night took them. "I was inspired by Dylan's stories of meeting people and making music after you met them. I met a lot of singers, painters, bikers passing through. They were friends, or sometimes more. All people I was really interested in on impact."
It sounds pretty dangerous.
"Yeah, I was lucky, but I also have strong intuition."
Does she still do it?
Does anyone ever say: "Hang on … you're Lana Del Rey!"
"Sometimes they do. About half the time they do, half the time they don't. If they know who I am I can just leave, or I say it's not a big deal, I'm just a singer."
Are they not surprised to see you out wandering the streets?
"If I'm in LA then maybe. If I'm in Omaha, maybe not."
When she was 18, Del Rey's darker experiences – she has talked about being alcoholic – prompted her to take up outreach work helping those addicted to drugs or alcohol. It's something she describes as her true calling and something she still does when she gets the chance.
"I live in Koreatown on the edge of Hancock Park [in LA], so I do different things where and when I can. It's not just people with mental illness on the streets, but also people who, throughout the years, have lost identification information, that sort of thing. And I know what to do, I know how I can help, because I was that person."She sees the good in everyone, she wants to know what everyone is like. If she feels recognized she can "just leave, or say it's not a big deal, she's just a singer." Isn't the image of Lana wandering around, just meeting people, interesting? She feels unbound to any situation, because she has good intuition. She wants to help drug addicted indigents because she was that person.
Is Lana Del Rey the Great American Buddhist Pop Star?
The thing of the Prince, the trust-fund kid who comes into contact with death, with aging, with disease and poverty, then becomes an ascetic in search of enlightenment. This could roughly be Lana's story too. I mean no disrespect to anyone's belief system or religion in asking this. I'm serious though-- if we can see that the possibility for cultivating Buddha-nature exists in everyone, I'd imagine it exists for Lana Del Rey, and that her exploration of it, conscious or not, regardless of what she calls it, can be recognized as such.
And the cool thing is, becoming famous isn't the same as enlightenment. She's totally ambivalent about her position in the world. She says in that interview that she wishes she was dead already. That she hasn't enjoyed being a pop star or being famous at all. I think that's good. I don't think it's good when pop stars are pretending to be miserable, or celebrating misery. She's not doing that. She's just saying that being famous isn't an end in an of itself, it's not the same thing as being at peace, or happy, or content. Being famous, being "known" is not the same thing as knowledge. It's not a big deal, she's just a singer. She's making music about, you know, people "on impact".
She's trying to understand mortality. She reminds us, as you must know, that we are Born to Die.
A quote from Siddhartha Gautama in the Dhammapada:
Pare ca na vijananti"People, other than the wise, do not realize, "We in this world must all die," (and, not realizing it, continue their quarrels). The wise realize it and thereby their quarrels cease."
ye ca tattha vijananti
tato sammanti medhaga.
Thus far, not much of Lana Del Rey's work seems to be about settling quarrels so much as realizing that we must die. This is an important part of the message but it's not the only part. I hope she sticks around to tell us about settling quarrels.