Del Rey’s genre is typically considered pop, “dream pop,” or even indie, this track is more accurately described as singer/songwriter, folk, acoustic. The vocals are prominent, allowing for the lyrics to get the listener’s attention. While I struggled to find an article that said something different and interesting about this track that I haven’t mentioned yet, this article did point out that the song, “[doesn’t] appear on Del Rey’s upcoming album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, which [dropped] August 30th,” continuing that it’s possible that she would choose to perform the song on tour.

“Looking for America” consists of one chorus, repeated twice, and two verses sung once each. For such a short and simple song, it sure is impactful. First, I will discuss the two verses and ways in which they are overt critiques of America’s lack of gun laws despite several mass shootings.


“Took a trip to San Francisco

All our friends said we would jive

Didn’t work, so I left for Fresno

It was quite a scenic drive…”


Here, Del Rey is being ironic as a rhetorical lyrical device. “Scenic drive” is often used as a positive experience, referring to the act of taking a drive through a beautiful landscape. Here, Del Rey uses it as a deceptive phrase, lulling the listener into imagining the serenity of nature. This can perhaps be heard as a subtle sarcastic critique of America’s landscape. Gilroy, CA is about halfway between San Francisco and Fresno, so Del Rey seemingly pulls over in Gilroy on her way to Fresno. The Gilroy shooting was “scenic” that Del Rey refers to. Perhaps more accurately, Del Rey imagines that the scene was graphic.


“Pulled over to watch the children in the park

We used to only worry about them after dark…”


This is when things start to get ominous as the chorus approaches. Now, Del Rey watches children, presumably playing and carefree in a park, but she begins to worry about them, even though it isn’t dark yet. This is when things start to get more overt.


“I’m still looking for my own version of America

One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly

No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide

It’s just a dream I had in mind…”


While this chorus is an overt critique, it does not offer any concrete solutions. Del Rey is longing for a gun-free society where the only objects in the sky are fireworks, conjuring images of the fourth of July, instead of the bombs of war. Del Rey looks for a version of America, which in this context is synonymous with hoping. Then, she admits that this version of America is just a dream in her mind. Is she being cynical? Does she actually hope that she will find this version of America, or does she think it will never happen as she settles for imaging it? She doesn’t blame anyone for the ways things are, she simply states that they are.


“I flew back to New York City

Missed that Hudson River line

Took the train back to Lake Placid

That’s another place and time, where

I used to go to drive-ins and listen to the blues

So many things that I think twice about before I do now…”


After the chorus, Del Rey sings about flying far away from the mass shootings that she’s witnessed, as she heads for the east coast. I was not able to find any significant mass shootings that occurred in the locations of New York City, near the Hudson River, or Lake Placid around the time that this song was recorded. This means that for Del Rey, these sites are a kind of get-away from the gruesome scene in Gilroy. Once on the east coast, however, Del Rey finds herself haunted and fearful as a result of what she witnessessed in California. “I used to go to drive-in and listen to the blues,” she sings. But now, she must “think twice” before doing these activities and fear for her life.