Lana Del Rey firmly wears her influences on her sleeve, and anybody familiar with the work of Sylvia Plath will be able to see how her literary style has bled into the singer’s artistry.
Del Rey’s is a throwback, and in the contemporary sphere, this has landed her with lonewolf status. In the singer’s head, she’s at Woodstock, and not in 2021, at every turn, she shows off her analogue heart in a digital age. Her influences come from those halcyon days, which she dreams up as utopian in her mind, despite Del Rey not being born until decades after the epoch that influenced her.
Lyricism is a pivotal ingredient at the heart of Del Rey’s work, and her love of literature bleeds into everything she produces. Sylvia Plath is a poet that she relates to on a visceral level, and the work of the beloved tortured genius who struggled with her mental health throughout her adult life is of poignance to the ‘Video Games’ singer.
In truth, attitudes towards this topic in the ’50s and ’60s were abhorrent. People didn’t know how to deal with those suffering from depression like Plath, and she even received the hideous electroconvulsive therapy multiple times. Tragically, the pain became insufferable, and she harrowingly took her own life when she was only 30 in 1963.
In 2019, Del Rey released the track ‘Hope Is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me To Have – But I Have It’, which is in tribute to her, and was originally set to be simply named, ‘Sylvia Plath’. On the track, she sings, “24/7 Sylvia Plath, Writing in blood on the walls”.
Speaking to Vogue Korea, Del Rey opened up about the creation of the track and said, “It took three years to complete. It is one of my songs that contains a lot of personal aspects. There are many meanings hidden in the lyrics and melody.”
Her debut collection of poems features’ Bare Feet On Linoleum’, which also came out in 2019, and sees her deliver another nod to Plath. She wrote, “Stay on your path Sylvia Plath, Don’t fall away like all the others, Don’t take all your secrets alone to your watery grave, About lovers and mother.”
Furthermore, in another one of Del Rey’s poems, ‘Patent Leather Do-Over’, the singer addresses it to Plath. It begins with the poignant lines, “Sylvia, I knew what you meant when you talked about swimming in the ocean and leaving your patent leather black shoes pointed towards it while you swam, It tickled you to leave them there.”
The personal depictions that both Del Rey and Plath implement into their work contain similar tropes — especially the shared common theme of mortality. Both writers delve into the darker alleys that life bestows upon us, areas where most people would avoid, but like a magnet, they’re innately drawn to them, hence why Plath’s work resonates on such a holy level with Del Rey.