Lana Del Rey today unveiled a sprawling, cinematic 10-minute video for her new single “Ride.” Directed by Anthony Mandler, it’s an epic vision of what she says “America used to be,” told from the perspective of a character who stumbled across a disconcerting alternate meaning of true freedom.
The video actually premiered Wednesday night at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, California, for an audience of dedicated fans and industry types, including producer Rick Rubin, who helmed the song. The screening had the air of a Hollywood event, with the first kids queuing up hours before doors opened and forming a line that eventually stretched around the block in the trendy boutique area of Montana Street.
When Del Rey arrived, fans greeted her with a loud ovation, which she repaid by signing autographs in back of the theater as paparazzi snapped pics and waited along the street.
Del Rey and Mandler introduced the clip, and the singer thanked people who spent the afternoon in line to see her in person. “You make everything that was ever hard completely, completely worth it,” she told the throng. “You don’t have to be as good as you are, and you just always are. We’re not even having a concert, we’re just showing the film.”
Following the screening, Del Rey and Mandler came back to the front of the theater for a Q&A with audience members. Topics ranged from the possibility of a tour to a girl getting on one knee and asking Del Rey to prom, and receiving a kiss on the cheek for the effort.
When asked about touring plans Del Rey dismissed the idea, proposing instead she and her fans meet every Sunday by the boardwalk for a walk on the beach.
The video is heavy on motorcycle imagery and a romanticized notion of “riding free,” something Del Rey describes in the closing sololiquy when her character says, “I believe in the freedom of the open road.” In the Q&A, though, she described herself as more of a “professional passenger.”
Everyone attending the screening received a copy of the dialogue from the clip, and a brief letter from Del Rey that talked about her collaborators and inspiration for the video.
“Life isn’t always easy, but sometimes you’re blessed enough to meet your artistic soul mates along the way,” she wrote. “After years of staying true to my own artistic visions, I met Anthony Mandler, who shared my love of all things dark and beautiful and understood my passion and revery for the country that America used to be. He’s helped me to bring the visions of my imagination to life and tell my different life stories through film . . .”
She wrapped up the note by saying, “The world I’ve created on the outside is finally as beautiful as it was in my mind’s eye when I first began writing and dreaming, and that – as you know – is a very rare thing. And for that I am eternally grateful to all of my wonderful friends and partners in music and at my label for helping a vision flourish and for being a part of something that is now bigger than us.”