She’s done ’50s Hollywood glamor, been a prim ’60s First Lady, and now Lana Del Rey is taking on the role of 1970s troubadour. In a new video released Wednesday (March 27), the Paradise singer performs a reverent cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1974 ballad “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.” As the story goes, the song was written with and about Janis Joplin during their brief relationship that consummated at New York’s legendary Hotel Chelsea. It later appeared on Cohen’s fourth album New Skin for the Old Ceremony. The forlorn lyrics about the illusory tryst are perfect fodder for romantic fatalist Del Rey, whose feather-light purr captures the uncomplicated tenderness of Cohen’s original. Sepia, Super-8 style cinematography carries it well.
Watch Leonard Cohen charismatically overexplain how the song came about in this performance from 1985.