No one wouldn’t have predicted that Lana Del Rey could produce a decent, willfully soporific cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Some Things Last a Long Time.” The original song’s haunting sense of removal seems exactly like the kind of thing Del Rey could imitate without batting a falsie. And, indeed, a cover from Del Rey had been anticipated for a while — and was previewed earlier this week as part of the short film, “Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston?” by Gabriel Sunday. But, with the release of the full song — which you can hear below — Del Rey’s cover actually exceeds expectations. In fact, it’s on par with — if not actually even more striking than — the heretofore most known/cited cover of the song, by Beach House.
For the track actually sees Del Rey set against a sonic backdrop we aren’t used to: plain (if maximally reverbed) acoustic guitar. Especially on her last album, Honeymoon, Del Rey collected sounds and beats that echoed the mellifluously wan, dissociative quality of her voice, and that combination attempted little in the way of dynamic juxtaposition. However, this track does the opposite: the guitar is almost unbearably warm and comforting, while her voice remains, by contrast, caught in a suspended state of loneliness.
The short film in which the track appears, Rolling Stone explains, is “not a documentary like 2005’s critically acclaimed The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” Rather, as the film’s website describes, it’s a “psychedelic short film,” in which Johnston stars, “about an aging musician coming to terms with the dreams of yesteryear.” Lana Del Rey has been peripherally linked to the project for a while, after having donated $10,000 to its Kickstarter in 2013.
Del Rey attended the premiere of the film in Los Angeles at the MAMA Gallery; Billboard spoke with her at the event, where the 15-minute film played on loop, surrounded by Johnston’s art from between 1979 and 1989, and where, per Billboard, “Johnston himself sat in the corner of the gallery for most the night, seemingly comfortable on a sagging couch amid a living-room-like setup the film’s director and co-star Gabriel Sunday bought at a thrift store to resemble Johnston’s actual home in Waller, Texas.” Here’s Del Rey’s description of the event, and its importance to her:
There were so many dimensions in one room, the past, the present at the time and then here he is, right there, watching himself. I guess the one thing I hoped is that he understood that while he’s home alone doing his art still — he says he writes every day — that he knows that he really did make a difference in people’s lives. He made a difference in mine.
Listen to the track:
Here’s the film’s trailer:
And in case you don’t want to exit your melancholy just yet, here’s Daniel Johnston’s original: