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What color are the banisters? An opinion on Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Banisters”

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

By Tatum Koster | November 15, 2021

“Blue Banisters,” Lana Del Rey's second album to be released this year, is the first real look we’ve gotten into her personal life. She shifts the focus inward, expressing everything from how she found safety in the women around her to finding the ability to tame herself. This is a different scenery for Del Rey who, unlike many popstars, likes to keep her private life out of the public eye. In this album, she sticks to what she’s known for, in the soft background music overlayed with her hearty, angelic vocals.

The album hit the scene on Oct. 22, shortly after the singer abandoned her Instagram account. Del Rey left her fans with the idea that “Blue Banisters” stood to tell her story.

The album’s title song, “Blue Banisters,” is a mellow tune complemented by Del Rey’s strong vocals telling us that she had met a man, “Said he’d fix my weathervane/Give me children, take away my pain/And paint my banisters blue.” Later in the song we find the man did not live up to those expectations as she writes, “Now when the weather turns to May/All my sisters come to paint/My banisters green.” While expressing a sense of loss and heartbreak she manages to leave behind a warm feeling derived from the support of these sisters. Her ability to express several emotions through a single song speaks to her exceptional talent.

The best display of her skill in weaving together lyrics and rhythm lies within “Arcadia.” You don’t even need to know anything about where Arcadia is or have any background knowledge on the geography of California when she writes, “All roads that lead to you as integral to me as arteries/That pump with blood that flows straight to the heart of me.” She expresses a passionate sense of self and love associated with this city. I am now feeling that traveling to Arcadia needs to be added to my bucket list. I think almost everyone has encountered a city at some point in their life that radiated ecstasy and comfort, one that feels like you were made to be an inhabitant. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will, and it will leave you coming back to “Arcadia” singing it like your vocal cords are about to give out.

If you’ve found that person, the one that makes your world a little more meaningful, then you need to listen to “Wildflower Wildfire.” And if you haven’t found them yet, listening to the melody will still leave a tear running down your face. The first time I heard, “Baby, I, I, I, I’ve been runnin’ on stardust/Alone for so long/I wouldn’t know what fire was/Hot fire, hot weather, hot coffee I’m better with you,'' I screamed at the road ahead of me while I drove down Washington Avenue. Her story here about someone who taught her and changed her for the better is so genuine and raw, it is almost impossible not to let your emotions take over.

In “Black Bathing Suit,” after the sound of crows, Del Rey sings, “I guess I’m complicated, my life’s sorta too/I wish you could see to my soul through this black bathing suit.” It is one of the most powerful choruses in the album. It speaks toward a yearning for someone to see what’s on the inside and understand all of the inner workings. Someone to see passed the skin painted over your body to the true representation of the human inside.

As the album trails off with “Sweet Carolina” Del Rey sings, “‘Crypto forever’ screams your stupid boyfriend,” then with the steady tone of a piano key, “Fuck you, Kevin.” The next time I meet a Kevin, this will be the only thing I hear in the back of my mind. In this line she is asking, “Sir, what are you doing and why are you speaking?'' I heard it loud and clear.

Listening to “Blue Banisters” left me crumbling in the front seat of my car with tears of joy, tears of heartbreak, and tears of self-discovery. I was never a die-hard Lana Del Rey fan until this album. This album shook my core and has been a refreshing new addition to my music taste. If you haven’t listened to it already, I recommend finding somewhere to be alone with your thoughts and a box of tissues so you can internalize her lyrics.

(Photo credit: Creative Commons)

I now understand why Taylor Swift said Lana Del Rey is the most influential artist today.


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