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"Off to the Races" is a song written by Lana Del Rey and Tim Larcombe and produced by Patrik Berger and Emile Haynie. Taken from Del Rey's first major-label album Born to Die, the song served as the album's first promotional single worldwide.

Background[]

"Off to the Races" was released in the UK as iTunes Single of the Week on December 20, 2011.[1] It was then released as a digital single in the Netherlands on January 6, 2012 on the iTunes Store.[2]

A demo version of the song, produced by Shawn Lee and Tim Larcombe was posted to Del Rey's SoundCloud page on May 22, 2010. It has currently yet to resurface online after being taken down. An early mix of the song, labeled "Mix 9" which had previously only been available on out-of-circulation promotional EPs sent to press, leaked on July 25, 2016. This version contained slightly different instrumentation, it was recorded on September 26, 2011. Another early mix leaked from a French sampler of Born to Die leaked on August 14, 2016. This version is similar to the "Mix 9" one, but with slight differences in the background instrumentation.

Writing and inspiration[]

In a 2012 interview, Del Rey described "Off to the Races" as a song where you could tell by the energy that she was right in the middle of a relationship where times were happy but also chaotic. She continued about the relationship by saying: "We were traveling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, he was gambling, I was just swimming, and yeah I mean, I used to indulge in a lot drugs and dark poetry, and pop culture, and amazing music, but I've quieted down a lot but I just reminisce about it. I live a really simple life today".[3]

Composition[]

Del Rey employs an alternative rapping technique, hip-hop beat and heavy basslines, similar to that of "National Anthem" and "Diet Mountain Dew" in the song.[4] The song samples "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force while the beat subtly samples "Dernier Domicile Connu" by François De Roubaix. Indie music website Pitchfork said the rapping technique was almost "chatting."[5] The song references the novel Lolita, with lyrics such as, "Light of my life, fire of my loins".[6]

One of the track's demos was produced by Shawn Lee and features military style snares during the chorus and has a completely different vocal track. A fan asked Lee if he could share the demo but he was not allowed to do that by the label. However, the demo was available on Del Rey's SoundCloud account for a period of time but it was downloaded only by one user.[7]

Critical reception[]

"Off to the Races" has been lyrically described as "a freak show of inappropriate co-dependency".[8] Giving the song a negative review, Pitchfork said it "...aim[s] for chatty, sparkling opulence," adding that she "doesn't have the personality to bring it off."[9] The Guardian wrote that "Off to the Races' turns Del Rey from vintage siren to R&B hoochie most convincingly. There's jazz in Del Rey's dextrous vocal, and new territory in the swoop and pow of Haynie's undertow." [10] Comparing the song to "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans", The Huffington Post blogged that the song was "...pretty good...and it sounds just as catchy..."[11] Of the song's music video, reviewer Robbie Daw commented: "...it seems the video’s producer was off to find the cheesiest footage of old shoot-'em-up '80s B-movies for this clip."[12]

Live performances[]

On November 4, 2011, at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester, United Kingdom, Del Rey performed the song live for the first time, before it was officially released. It was the final song of the set.[13] Since then, the song has been apart of the setlist of every one of Del Rey's concert tours. It has also served as the closing song of every tour except the Paradise Tour and Norman Fucking Rockwell Tour.

Music video[]

Music video Information
LANA_DEL_REY_-_OFF_TO_THE_RACES_(OFFICIAL_MUSIC_VIDEO) Released December 22, 2011
Length 5:04
Director Lana Del Rey
Producer
Filmed N/A
Location N/A
Vevo views N/A

Background and description[]

On December 22, 2011, Lana Del Rey uploaded a homemade music video for "Off to the Races" on her YouTube channel. It is composed of film clips, and does not feature Del Rey herself. The video features Latin American gangsters, femme fatale figures with guns, and a race track. It has since been privatized for unknown reasons, although unofficial uploads still exist around the web.[14]

Cross-references[]

Official versions[]

  • Album version — 4:59
    • Instrumental version — 4:58
  • Single version — 5:01
  • Radio edit — 3:54
  • Demo version (unreleased) — 5:02 (produced by Shawn Lee and Tim Larcombe)
  • "Mix 9" version — 5:05
  • "Early Mix" version — 5:10

Lyrics[]

Album version[]

My old man is a bad man
But I can't deny the way he holds my hand
And he grabs me, he has me by my heart

He doesn't mind I have a Las Vegas past
He doesn't mind I have an LA crass way about me
He loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart

Swimming pool glimmering, darling
White bikini off with my red nail polish
Watch me in the swimming pool, bright blue ripples
You sitting, sipping on your Black Cristal, yeah

Light of my life, fire of my loins
Be a good baby, do what I want
Light of my life, fire of my loins
Gimmie them gold coins
Gimmie them coins

And I'm off to the races
Cases of Bacardi chasers
Chasing me all over town
'Cause he knows I'm wasted
Facing time again at Rikers Island
And I won't get out

Because I'm crazy, baby
I need you to come here and save me
I'm your little scarlet starlet
Singing in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth
Ready for you

My old man is a tough man
But he got a soul as sweet as blood red jam
And he shows me, he knows me, every inch of my tar black soul

He doesn't mind I have a flat broke down life
In fact he says he thinks it's what he might like about me
Admires me, the way I roll like a rolling stone

He likes to watch me in the glass room, bathroom, Chateau Marmont
Slipping on my red dress, putting on my makeup
Glass room, perfume, cognac, lilac fumes
Says it feels like Heaven to him

Light of his life, fire of his loins
Keep me forever, tell me you own me
Light of your life, fire of your loins
Tell me you own me
Gimmie them coins

And I'm off to the races
Cases of Bacardi chasers
Chasin' me all over town
'Cause he knows I'm wasted
Facing time again at Rikers Island
And I won't get out

Because I'm crazy, baby
I need you to come here and save me
I'm your little scarlet starlet
Singing in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth

Now I'm off to the races, laces
Leather on my waist is tight and I am falling down
I can see your face is shameless
Cipriani's basement
Love you but I'm going down

God, I'm so crazy, baby
I'm sorry that I'm misbehaving
I'm your little harlot, starlet
Queen of Coney Island
Raising Hell all over town
Sorry 'bout it

My old man is a thief
And I'm gonna stay and pray with him till the end
But I trust in the decision of the Lord to watch over us

Take him when he may
If he may, I'm not afraid to say
That I'd die without him

Who else is gonna put up with me this way?
I need you, I breathe you, I'd never leave you
They would rue the day, I was alone without you

You're lying with your gold chain on
Cigar hanging from your lips
I said, "Hun, you never looked so beautiful as you do now, my man"

And we're off to the races, places
Ready, set, the gate is down
And now we're going in
To Las Vegas, chaos
Casino oasis
Honey, it is time to spin

Boy, you're so crazy, baby
I love you forever, not maybe
You are my one true love
You are my one true love

You are my one true love

Radio edit[]

My old man is a bad man
But I can't deny the way he holds my hand
And he grabs me, he has me by my heart

He doesn't mind I have a Las Vegas past
He doesn't mind I have an LA crass way about me
He loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart

Swimming pool glimmering, darling
White bikini off with my red nail polish
Watch me in the swimming pool, bright blue ripples
You sitting, sipping on your Black Cristal, yeah

Light of my life, fire of my loins
Be a good baby, do what I want
Light of my life, fire of my loins
Gimmie them gold coins
Gimmie them coins

And I'm off to the races
Cases of Bacardi chasers
Chasing me all over town
'Cause he knows I'm wasted
Facing time again at Riker's Island
And I won't get out

Because I'm crazy, baby
I need you to come here and save me
I'm your little scarlet starlet
Singing in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth
Ready for you

My old man is a tough man
But he got a soul as sweet as blood red jam
And he shows me, he knows me, every inch of my tar black soul

He doesn't mind I have a flat broke down life
In fact he says he thinks it's what he might like about me
Admires me, the way I roll like a rolling stone

He likes to watch me in the glass room, bathroom, Chateau Marmont
Slipping on my red dress, putting on my makeup
Glass room, perfume, cognac, lilac fumes
Says it feels like Heaven to him

Light of his life, fire of his loins
Keep me forever, tell me you own me
Light of your life, fire of your loins
Tell me you own me
Gimmie them coins

And I'm off to the races, laces
Leather on my waist is tight and I am falling down
I can see your face is shameless
Cipriani's basement
Love you but I'm going down

God, I'm so crazy, baby
I'm sorry that I'm misbehaving
I'm your little harlot, starlet
Queen of Coney Island
Raising Hell all over town
Sorry 'bout it

My old man is a thief
And I'm gonna stay and pray with him till the end
But I trust in the decision of the Lord to watch over us

Take him when he may
If he may, I'm not afraid to say
That I'd die without him

Who else is gonna put up with me this way?
I need you, I breathe you, I'd never leave you
They would rue the day, I was alone without you

You're lying with your gold chain on
Cigar hanging from your lips
I said, "Hun, you never looked so beautiful as you do now, my man"

And we're off to the races, places
Ready, set, the gate is down and now we're going in
To Las Vegas, chaos
Casino oasis
Honey, it is time to spin

Boy, you're so crazy, baby
I love you forever, not maybe
You are my one true love
You are my one true love

Promotional releases[]

Off to the Races CD by Stranger Records in UK[]

Credits[]

Personnel
  • Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting
  • Tim Larcombe — songwriting
  • Patrik Berger — production, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, synthesizer, sampler, drum programming
  • Emile Haynie — production, drums, additional keyboards
  • Carl Bagge — strings arrangement
  • Frederik Syberg — violin
  • Erik Holm — viola
  • Pelle Hansen — cello
  • Dan Grech Marguerat — mixing
  • Duncan Fuller — mixing assistance
  • John Davis — mastering
Technical
  • Published by Copyright Control / EMI
  • Mastered at Metropolis Matering, London, United Kingdom

Charts[]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
US Alternative Digital Songs (Billboard) 22
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard) 40

References[]

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