"When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing" is a song by Lana Del Rey. It was co-written and produced with Rick Nowels, Dean Reid and Kieron Menzies. It is featured as the eleventh track on Del Rey's fifth studio album and fourth major-label studio album, Lust for Life.
Background and writing
During an interview featured in Flaunt magazine that was released on May 15, 2017, Del Rey stated that the song had political themes, similarly to "God Bless America - and All the Beautiful Women in It". However, she feared that it would not be well received by the public and was unsure whether to include it or not:
"Well, I have a song that's quite aware about the collective worry, about whether this is the end of an era. It's called "When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing." But I actually went back and forth about keeping it on the record, because I didn't want it there if it would make people feel worse instead of better. It's not apathetic. The tone of the production is very dark, and doesn't lead to a fucking happy feeling. And the question it poses: Is this the end of America, of an era? Are we running out of time with this person at the helm of a ship? Will it crash? In my mind, the lyrics were a reminder not to shut down or shut off, or just don't talk about things. It was more like stay vigilant and keep dancing. Stay awake."
In an interview for V magazine, Del Rey confirmed that the track would be included on the album.
Del Rey performed the song live for the first time at her Lust for Life listening party and performance hosted by Spotify at No Vacancy in Los Angeles, California, on July 20, 2017. In 2018, the song was included as part of the setlist for the LA to the Moon Tour.
- Pearls and curls are individually mentioned in "Fucked My Way Up to the Top" and "Marilyn Monroe"; while curls are mentioned only in "The Other Woman".
- Del Rey remarks "oh my God" in "Heroin", "Summertime Sadness", "The Blackest Day" and "Paradise".
- Album version — 4:35
- Clean version — 4:35