What does Carmen mean?

Lana Del Rey: Carmen Meaning

Album cover for Carmen album cover

Song Released: 2012

Carmen Lyrics

doesn't have a problem
Lyin'to herself cause her liquour's top shelf
It's alarming honestly how charming she can be
Fooling everyone, telling them she's having fun

She says you don't want to be like me
Don't wanna to...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 24th 2012 !⃝

    What I got from the song was not about a prostitute or being homeless and looking for success.
    As most of us know, Lana del Rey had some issues when she was 14 years old, turning to alcohol and drugs and basically losing herself to these drugs and alcohol--which she calls "Carmen" in the song.
    "Darlin', darlin', doesn't have a problem, lying to herself 'cause her liquor's top shelf." I think that's pretty obvious that she's talking about alcohol. She wants the drugs and the alcohol so badly, but she's telling herself it's not a problem, lying to herself.
    That's when I knew the song was about her teenage years and her alcohol dependancy.
    I believe in the song she was talking about how she was telling herself she didn't have a problem, she was fine, she was okay. But she was also saying in her song how addicting Carmen was, and in this case Carmen is the drugs and alcohol. She was saying how Carmen was "charming" and how "the boys, the girls, they call like Carmen." She was basically saying that if drugs and alcohol was a person, everyone, the boys, the girls, would be addicted to her, she'd be the popular girl at school that no one cold get enough of. She'd be the mysterious, sexy girl that everyone would want, because that's how Lana saw alcohol and drugs.
    I also think she wrote the song to relate to other people as well. I think to people who are not dependent on alcohol and drugs, "Carmen" could be something like anorexia or bulimia or the urge to cut and harm the body.
    Overall I think it could have a different meaning to different people, but this is what I saw from the song.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 18th 2019 !⃝

    I've interpreted it as a classic tale of the trappings of seeking fame.

    17-year-old Carmen left Coney Island to seek fame in Hollywood, based on the lyrics she's clearly had some success but with the partying lifestyle that often comes with networking in the industry, the constant pressure to keep up facade of a "perfect life", mixed with her growing drink/drug habit, the money isn't enough to live off or sustain such a decadent lifestyle, thus taking up sex work at night. She's living a double life, by day she projects the illusion of being a happy, charming up-and-coming Hollywood darling but by night she's hooking to earn enough money to survive and continue her pursuit of fame, all the while deluding herself into thinking she can handle using her youth, beauty, charm and body to get what she wants at the expense of her emotional, mental and physical health because "her liquors top shelf" aka materialism "I can afford to have expensive things and live the life of a star".


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 2nd 2012 !⃝

    The song about Carmen is not about a woman who is a prostitute.

    "Carmen" is about a woman with an alcohol problem who is constantly attempting to convince herself the she truly has no problem at all and is truly just fine. "Doesn't have a problem. Lying to herself, cuz her liquor's top shelf". This line states that Carmen, who, truly, is Lana Del Rey in her teenage years, is crazy and an alcoholic but is convinced that she has no problem. She is lying to herself cuz her liquor is too high to reach or is high class and safe to drink.

    "She's still shining like lightning..."
    This line, however, does refer to a sort of prostitutional issue that she once had. Although she has screwed up millions of times, she still has potential to be a good person and is shining...

    It's all about Lana Del Rey as a teenager. Lana, in an interview, said that all the songs on the album reflect off of her troubled past, where she was making crazy decisions and living the life of a runaway drug addict. But it took her awhile to admit to herself that she needed help. But once she admitted to herself she had a problem, she got help and now is LIKE LIGHTNING!

  4. anonymous
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    Aug 9th 2023 !⃝

    Okay, this is really stupid and dumb, but when I was listening to it, all I could thing of was the Carmen Sandiego tv show. The fact that she says "bats her cartoon eyes" just further proves my point, "only seventeen and walks the streets so mean" because she's doing what she has to to bring Vile down. The French part is giving the Carmen opera composed by Georges Bizet, and that opera is referenced IN THE SHOW. And this line "Baby's all dressed up with nowhere to go, that's the little story of the girl you know." Because in actuality, she's really lonely and wears like...designer clothes on the job. And "put your red dress on, put your lipstick on"...I don't know its all just giving Carmen Sandiego. I'll hurry and get off my soapbox, but ril quick: "Darlin, darlin doesn't have a problem
    Lyin to herself cause her liquor's top shelf" is how Carmen is hiding all this trauma she has from almost being KILLED by her MENTOR. By being raised by THIEVES. By STEALING EVERY D A Y T H I S G I R L N E E D S T H E R A P Y but she just keeps going. She's lying to herself.

  5. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2023 !⃝

    I thought Carmen was a girl, who was popular, pretty and had it all, but a look inside her life, she really doesn't and is struggling, I pictured her as evie zamora. Popular, cool and everyone wants to be with her or her, but in reality, she isn't so perfect idk tho

  6. anonymous
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    Apr 24th 2023 !⃝

    the song "Carmen" written by Lana Del Rey is a song about a girl that everyone likes everyone falls in-love with her, she's one in a million. people want to be like her. She says, "you don't want to be like me
    Looking for fun, get me high for free
    I'm dying, I'm dying" her life behind her beauty is painful no one knows what she's truly going through she's slowly dying in her suffering but no-one would ever guess. "Put your red dress on, put your lipstick on
    Sing your song, song, now, the camera's on
    And you're alive again" she's a girl that covers her pain with make up and get dressed for the day altering and covering up her missery. when the cameras on and around people she switches to a bright person with a smile. Carmen is a girl with nothing but everything at the some time. she relies on the kindness of strangers, because her beauty is all she has.

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 3rd 2023 !⃝

    Everyone has been telling me about this song and it’s time I make my final interpretation about this song “publicly” and very detailed. When the song says only 17, I think of a person who is 17’ female, friend of Lana Del Rey, and possibly a prostitute. As you can see in the starting area of the Music Video, you can see a women that is giving herself in to others and Stripping Down. This shows up the minority of times in the Music Video. “Probably”, Carmen was inspired and wanted to start a career in this sort of prostitution. This very much will “Probably” bring her to a much more “rough” prostitution going up to Drugs and Alcohol, and bringing her to not liking this career of hers. She may have probably told all her friends telling them not to be like her and that they don’t want to see what she has seen. When I say that Lana, (or Elizabeth Grant) is friends with Carmen is that probably Carmen is Dead. She is no longer alive. (If she is I am very sorry I said that,) adding to that Carmen may have shared this to Lana in the past and may have brought Lana to make a song about her story and her work.

    This song interpretation is not a confirmed Interpretation. Lana Del Rey may confirm it in the future.

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 24th 2022 !⃝

    i always thought this song was about Lana comparing herself to a girl or one of her close friends because of the chorus “ The boys, the girls, they all like Carmen
    She gives them butterflies, bats her cartoon eyes
    She laughs like God, her mind's like a diamond
    Buy her tonight, she's still shining
    Like lightning, oh, like lightning” she was jealous of her

  9. anonymous
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    Jul 5th 2020 !⃝

    Has anyone heard of the opera Carmen? Listen to it then this song. I feel like Lana Del Rey is translating the modern day Carmen. How we use hedonism to feel free when it actually kills us.

  10. anonymous
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    May 8th 2020 !⃝

    I believe she is singing about her teen self. She had alcohol and drugs addiction when she was a teen and she is basically talking about a girl who seems to have the perfect life of the outside but inside she is suffering. The whole French part is about the addiction, saying that she needs it in her life and she can’t live without it. Anyway that’s how I see this song and I really love the song it reminds me that even if someone seems to have the perfect live we all have problems.

  11. Jtabpac22
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    Jul 26th 2017 !⃝

    I honestly think this song is about Rita Hayworth a hollywood actress from the 1940s a decade Lana refrences frequently in her songs. My first clue was by the song title carmen, including that Rita's birth name is Margarita Carmen Cansino. Although that is not the only thing, Rita had an alcohol addiction in some point in her life, in the song it includes "lying to herself cause her liquors top shelf", refrencing alcohol addiction. Another clue would be the lyric, "Only seventeen but she walks the streets all mean" refrences that Rita started her acting career at seventeen years old. And last but not least , the lyric "Coney Island Queen" relates to where Hayworth is from Brooklyn, New York and Coney Island is part of the lower bay in Brooklyn. Now this might be a stretch but makes sense and is a good conincidence.

  12. anonymous
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    Jul 7th 2016 !⃝

    The song is obviously about a young celebrity who gets caught up in drugs and alcohol and obviously get sake and is trying to hide it from the public or some sort of other person. I think towards the end of the song when they start talking about "I'm dying"They are talking about her physically getting sick and dying. She's telling through the song that she doesn't want other kids to waste their life young and party. She's talking about how even though everybody loves her it didn't save her from what happened.

  13. anonymous
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    May 14th 2016 !⃝

    I definitely think this song is about prostitution.

    There's like a million hints in this song -- she's "relying on the kindness of strangers", "only seventeen, cause she walks the street so mean", "street walking at night".

    The opening line and closing line is totally a double entendre too -- "Darling, darling, doesn't have a problem, lying to herself 'cause her liquor's top-shelf". It's not her alcohol that is top-shelf though, it's her LICKER not her LIQUOR.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  14. anonymous
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    Aug 5th 2014 !⃝

    And finally , the song Hum sings to lolita while he as tempts seduce her goes "o my carmen, my little carmen, something something those something nights. And the stars , the cars , and the bars and the batsmen...." Etc . Same rhythm, similar lyrics

  15. anonymous
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    Aug 5th 2014 !⃝

    This song is about the book Lolita . "carmen" is mentioned several times throughout the book. And maybe it's my own interpretation but "telling them she's having fun" is actually "telling hum she's having fun" because "Hum" / Humbert is Lolita's stepfather and lover and she's stuck with him throughout a year long road trip and was miserable. Which also leads to lolita / Dolores / Carmen's life spiraling out of control to a life similar to what's described in this song. Lana also refers to lolita in off to the races with the beginning lines "light of my life, fire of my loins" and finally, the book has a great amount of French in it , similar to this song

  16. anonymous
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    Dec 4th 2013 !⃝

    as for me, Lizzy tells us about her best friend, who was so supreme and loved by other guys. Liz wanted to be like her and they spent much time together so in some aspects they were similar. Carmen has taught Lana a lot, invited with boys, and in many songs lana sings about that happy times (for instance in what makes us girls and boarding school)

  17. anonymous
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    Oct 1st 2013 !⃝

    When i hear this song to me it sounds like she is a young girl that is very beautiful and wanted to be an actress but found herself getting adicted to meth and alchohol and then became a prostitute. there is clear indications that she has dont prostitution before because of the line "doing part faviors" (sex) "buy her tonight"

  18. anonymous
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    May 24th 2013 !⃝

    Stupid people. It's about drugs and partying and loosing herself. Killing herself slowly

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