Whichever way you cut it, Lana Del Rey is a disciple of Joni Mitchell, and she relates immensely to her on both an artistic and personal level. Furthermore, Del Rey has even concealed references to her within her music, and the influence of Mitchell as a confessional, candid and confident songwriter is undeniable.
They are both artists who wear their emotional fragilities on their sleeves, and it’s easy to comprehend why Del Rey has been called the heir to Mitchell’s throne. The ‘Born To Die’ singer has previously spoken about why she feels like the two of them are kindred spirits and touched upon the similarities of their journey to fame.
Del Rey once said: “When I got to New York City, when I was eighteen, I started playing in clubs in Brooklyn—I have good friends and devoted fans on the underground scene, but we were playing for each other at that point—and that was it.”
Decades earlier, Mitchell had moved to New York with the same dream, and they cut their teeth on the same streets. The pair arrived as nobodies, played in empty rooms, and learned harsh lessons about life as a musician, but, ultimately, the Big Apple made them.
Additionally, Del Rey and Mitchell spent years following their passion while success seemed an impossible fantasy. In Joni’s song, ‘For Free’, she chronicles life as a failing musician, which Lana connected with and went on to cover on her 2021 album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club.
Speaking about her decision to take on the track, Del Rey informed MOJO it means “everything” to her. She then explained why she connected so profoundly with ‘For Free’: “The way things started off for me in the way I was portrayed was that I was feigning emotional sensitivity. I really didn’t like that,” she told the publication.
Del Rey added: “Because I didn’t even get famous ’til I was, like, 27 and until then, I sang for less than free. And I loved it. I really was that girl who was pure of soul. I didn’t give a fuck.”
Moreover, Del Rey had also previously included a not-so-subtle reference to her musical icon on ‘Bartender’, which appeared on Norman Fucking Rockwell. On the track, she pays homage to Mitchell’s 1970 masterpiece, Ladies Of The Canyon, and sings, “All the ladies of the canyon, wearing black to their house parties.”
Watch the footage below of Del Rey teaming up with Zella Day and Weyes Blood at the Hollywood Bowl to pay tribute to Mitchell by taking on ‘For Free’.