There's a single "High By the Beach", recently issued by Lana Del Rey, which has the following chorus:

All I wanna do is get high by the beach,
Get high by the beach, get high.
All I wanna do is get by by the beach,
Get by – baby, baby, bye, bye.

The question is: what other meanings/synonyms of the idiom "to get high" [besides the obvious "to get euphoric (by smoking weed)"] are possible here in the context of the lyrics/music video: https://youtu.be/QnxpHIl5Ynw? May it be interpreted literally as simply "to get high enough somewhere over a beach far from the rest of the world"? Does the meaning change through repetition? And the same goes for "get by" phrasal verb, first followed by "by the beach" and then used on its own. What meanings may it have here? Very much looks like a play on words, doesn't it?

  • Welcome to ELL. Unfortunately, this question risks getting close-voted since it is fairly opinion-based. Lyrics interpretations are very flaky since they depend greatly on people's interpretation rather than concrete context. Additionally, it may be argued that dictionary definitions of "get high" may be all you need to work out the various potential meanings of the lyrics in question. The Help Centre will answer your questions about what is considered on and off-topic here.
    – JMB
    Sep 11, 2015 at 12:27
  • @JMB Thank you for your prompt reply. I do understand that the whole story is very opinion-based – I just want to know whether native speakers can notice here some obvious word play or something of the kind (like, say, in "Time flies like an arrow"). For example, is there a noticeable difference between "get by by the beach", "get by the beach" and "get by"? I guess there is. Sep 11, 2015 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


Interpreting song lyrics and poetry can by tricky, since it's hard to say what the writer meant in a particularly poetic passage.

However, this is not such a case. I'm 99% sure Lana Del Rey literally means that all she wants to do was get high (become intoxicated on some drug of her choice) in the vicinity of a sandy ocean vista.

This is not high poetry.

To expand on the idea a little more, "to get high" generally means to enter a state of intoxication or euphoria, usually but not always by means of a psychoactive drug. Sometimes people say they are "high on life", or "high on your love." I have also heard people talk about getting a "high" from working out or playing competitive sports.

It isn't usually used in the sense of "ascend in altitude", although you could say something like "I want to get high in the sky in an airplane." Some people might still think you're implying you want to get high on drugs, though.

The line "Get by, by the beach" could mean she wants to "get by" - which in my opinion, in this context means to manage or cope despite hardship - near the beach. It could also be a simple repetition of the word to fill out the meter, meaning just "get by the beach."

  • One can "get high" without consuming intoxicating substance, but also by participating in an activity that causes endorphins to be released (sex, for instance). Sep 11, 2015 at 12:43
  • In other words, "get high" can be used figuratively in the second degree. Sep 11, 2015 at 12:44
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    "Not high poetry" - is that a pun? Sep 11, 2015 at 12:45
  • @VictorBazarov It is now! Sep 11, 2015 at 13:08
  • @AaronBrown So, apparently, there's no way for a native speaker to interpret "get high" here in the most literal way possible as, say, "high on a cliff by the ocean" – the only possible (or most probable) meaning is just "get intoxicated" or "get euphoric" (by any means). Okay, thank you – that's what I wanted to know. Sep 11, 2015 at 13:27

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