Liner Notes: Lana Del Rey reflects on younger self in ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’


Illustration by Shveta Shah

Lana Del Rey’s eagerly anticipated “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” was released March 24.

Virginia Hunt, Reporter

Lana Del Rey is notorious for creating music that captures a romanticized, tragic version of womanhood. She interweaves that hallmark perspective through the 16 tracks on her new album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”  in a deeply personal way.

In this album, which clocks in at one hour and 17 minutes, Del Rey reflects on her family and childhood in songs such as “The Grants” and “Fingertips.” She creates a sense of nostalgia that invites the listener into a private side of the artist’s life.

While many of Del Rey’s past songs focus on her relationship to men and how they relate to her own femininity, this album takes a more introspective tone and exposes Del Rey’s interpretation of her own development and internal longings.  

Additionally, two interludes featuring pastor Judah Smith and fellow musician Jon Batiste offer moments of instrumental pause so the listener can reflect on the album’s stories alongside Del Rey. 

The features with Smith and Batiste are two of several on the album with Father John Misty, Bleachers, SYML, Riopy and Tommy Genesis. This collaborative style is not entirely new for Del Rey, as her 2017 album “Lust for Life” featured artists from The Weeknd to Stevie Nicks. 

Del Rey often considers questions of love, lust, morality and heaven throughout her music, and “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” is no exception. Here Del Rey focuses on her desire for true love, as opposed to the lustful and sometimes toxic relationships she sang about in albums like “Ultraviolence.”  

“Judah Smith Interlude” features a voice recording of the pastor’s thoughts on lust with audible responses from Del Rey to the message, which adds to the album’s development of Del Rey’s understanding of her connection with her religious upbringing, sexuality and spirituality.

Del Rey’s signature piano ballad is most clear in the titular song “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” where she grapples with the urge to be truly seen and fulfilled within a romantic relationship. 

In the song “Sweet,” the lyrics “Do you want children? Do you wanna marry me? encapsulate Del Rey’s change in desires. The same theme of longing for a lasting love seems to reach its height in “Margaret,” which is inspired by producer Jack Antonoff’s engagement to fiancée Margaret Qualley. Antonoff appears on the song under his stage name Bleachers.

The final song on the album, “Taco Truck x VB,” returns to the artist’s more spontaneous and youthful lyricism, ending the album with a “snap out of it” moment that moves away from the tone of the previous songs. The song features a remixed version of Del Rey’s song “Venice Bitch” from the 2019 album “Norman Fucking Rockwell!.”

Though the album dives deeper into her personal life than previous albums, the soulful piano ballads, central theme of love and final recall to an earlier album remind fans the core of Del Rey’s music remains the same.

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