Hope Is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me to Have - But I Have it

Album: Norman F---ing Rockwell! (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • Over muted piano, Lana Del Rey muses on the expectations of being a celebrity and the desire for inner peace. The title is a reference to the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption when Tim Robbins' character Andy describes to Red (played by Morgan Freeman) how it was hope that got him through his time in time in solitary confinement. Red dismisses the comment, saying, "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
  • The minimalist ballad finds Lana Del Rey comparing herself to Sylvia Plath.

    24/7 Sylvia Plath, writing in blood on the walls

    Del Rey has expressed in the past she was inspired by

    The troubled American author and poet, who committed suicide in 1963, has long been an influence on Del Rey. Like Plath, the singer has always had a flair for the melancholic; in 2018 Clash Books published a volume titled Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath.
  • Del Rey also references classic celebrity photographer Slim Aarons.

    I was reading Slim Aarons and I got to thinking that I thought
    Maybe I'd get less stressed if I was tested less like
    All of these debutantes
    Smiling for miles in pink dresses and high heels on white yachts
    But I'm not, baby, I'm not


    Aarons was noted for photographing socialites, jet-setters and debutantes in the 1950s and '60s. People expect Del Rey to behave like the sort of smiling celebrity he was renowned for snapping, but that's not her style.
  • Lana Del Rey filled the song with references to living in Hollywood. She explained to Billboard that she sees so many things there "that didn't look right to me, things that I never thought I'd have permission to talk about, because everyone knew and no one ever said anything."

    Del Rey added: "The culture only changed in the last two years as to whether people would believe you. And I've been in this business now for 15 years! So I was writing a song to myself... Hope truly is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have, because I know so much. But I have it."
  • This is the closing song of Norman F---ing Rockwell!. Del Rey told Q magazine that once she's written the opening and closing tracks of an album, she knows where she's going.

    The singer explained that she spent four years working on this song, but it quickly came together when she met the record's primary producer-collaborator, Jack Antonoff.

    "Not because it was special but it wasn't piecing together," Del Rey said. "So I sang that to Jack a capella the day I met him and we did 'Norman' the next day. Just a series of chords that he played that I freestyled over."

    "And I thought, 'I've got the first song and I've got the 13th song," she added. "And then I pretty much knew what to do in between, I just didn't know how long it's going to take."
  • Lana Del Rey performed "Hope is a Dangerous Thing" live for the first time during her October 10, 2019 concert at LA's Hollywood Bowl. She was accompanied by the song's co-writer, Jack Antonoff.
  • "Hope Is A Dangerous Thing" is about the toxic masculinity Lana Del Rey has seen on her journey through musical show business, and her response to it.

    "I think it's dangerous for a woman who is too kind, I really do," she told Q Magazine. "That's what it's about. Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman who is told to bend to whatever comes along because it's the right thing to do. So it's less dangerous if you never give a f--k, but if you care it's dangerous on seven different levels."

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