Blue Robot

Lana Del Rey Covers Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and Other Classics

Posted by Kayla Tooma on 07/01 at 04:20 PM

Lana Del Rey has been covering quite a few classic songs lately including the Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris 1950s classic “Blue Velvet” and - alongside her beau Barrie-James O’Neill vocalist and guitarist of the band Kassidy - the 1960s “Summer Wine” made famous by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. But perhaps the most beautiful cover she has put out is of Leonard Cohen‘s “Chelsea Hotel No.2”.

According to The Rolling Stone, the original song was rumored to be about Janis Joplin who tragically “got away.” Lana’s cover is gorgeous, sweet, nostalgic, and of course, somber.

Have a listen here:

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the cover is her artistic decision not to change the genders of the song. She sings “you told me again you preferred handsome men/but for me, you would make an exception,” among other lyrics in which a woman is the addressee and the singer is the addresser. Some suggest it is an attempt at being provocative, that she as a woman is addressing another woman, which would change the entire tone of the song. The previously quoted line would no longer suggest that the man singing is just “ugly,” but that she is just simply not a man, which is a somewhat important detail throughout the song. However I see it as a preservation of the original song. Lana may not have wanted to tamper with it. Personally, I find it annoying when a cover is done by the opposite gender and they change the words to make it fit their particular gender.

In her cover of “Blue Velvet,” she also decides to leave the lyrics and gender untouched singing “she wore blue velvet.” It may be a little odd to sing about a man wearing blue velvet. But more importantly, especially with classic songs, I believe, and would like to think Lana agrees, that keeping the lyrics and tone of the song intact is more important than changing the “shes” to “hes” just to suit the singer’s gender and sexuality.

Listen to Lana’s cover of “Blue Velvet” here:

Listen to Lana and O’Neill’s cover of “Summer Wine” here:

{name} Author: Kayla Tooma
Bio: Kayla Tooma is a senior majoring in English at Penn State. She hails from the great island of Long Island, NY. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing piano, reading medieval literature, watching unhealthy amounts of space documentaries, and making some kind of lame pun. Her favorite genres include a variety of rock, pop, indie, and metal. Some of her favorite artists include My Chemical Romance, Lana Del Rey, Queen, MIKA, No Doubt, Lady Gaga, HIM, The Smiths, The Jane Austen Argument, The Beatles, Beirut, The Dresden Dolls, and The White Stripes. She also has a sweet spot for pop goddesses like Cher, Madonna, and Britney Spears.


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