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Meaning of ‘Brooklyn Baby’ by ‘Lana Del Rey’

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Released: 2014

“Brooklyn Baby” by Lana Del Rey is a smooth, mellow track filled with references to a cultural blend of the past and the present, specifically pointing towards the 70s era and the modern hipster lifestyle. Del Rey paints a picture of a young woman who is deeply immersed in a vintage, bohemian lifestyle, showcasing a mix of defiance and pride in her identity. The lyrics serve as a bridge connecting past art forms with the current generation’s expression.

The opening lines, “They say I’m too young to love you, I don’t know what I need,” reflect a young person’s confrontation with societal judgments. Del Rey uses this as a platform to voice a common feeling among youth, where older generations often dismiss their emotions or thoughts as naive or uninformed. This theme of misunderstood youth weaves its way through the entire song, illustrating a struggle for authenticity and understanding.

The chorus and repeated verses, “Well, my boyfriend’s in a band, He plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed, I’ve got feathers in my hair, I get down to Beat poetry, And my jazz collection’s rare, I can play most anything, I’m a Brooklyn baby,” delve into a deep appreciation for a bygone era. Del Rey mentions specific cultural icons such as Lou Reed and Beat poetry, aligning herself and her partner with figures known for their rebellious, groundbreaking art. The mention of “feathers in my hair” and a rare jazz collection further solidifies this image of a retro-modern bohemian blend, asserting a strong sense of individualism and a non-conformist lifestyle.

One of the standout verses, “I’m talking about my generation, Talking about that newer nation, And if you don’t like it, you can beat it,” is a bold statement of generational identity. Here, Del Rey voices a common sentiment among young people, asserting their right to form and define their culture, independent of approval from others. Her use of the phrase “you can beat it” is a defiant dismissal of criticism, emphasizing a no-apologies stance on her and her generation’s choices and beliefs.

The final declaration, “Yeah, my boyfriend’s pretty cool, But he’s not as cool as me, ‘Cause I’m a Brooklyn baby,” brings a touch of humor and self-confidence. It’s a cheeky acknowledgment of her own uniqueness and a celebration of her identity, wrapped in the contextual coolness of being from Brooklyn—a place often associated with artistic and indie culture.

Overall, “Brooklyn Baby” is Lana Del Rey’s tribute to the past, with a firm stance in the present. It’s a song that balances nostalgia with modernity, pride with humility, and confidence with vulnerability. Through this track, Del Rey becomes the voice of a generation that deeply values authenticity, creativity, and the freedom to express oneself, regardless of the judgement from those who “forgot to read”.

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