Last week we commemorated the 20th anniversary of Play, Moby’s blues-sampling electronica juggernaut that saw every track licensed commercially and kept him on the road for 18 months. Not coincidentally, he just released the book Then It Fell Apart, a followup to his 2016 memoir Porcelain.
Then It Fell Apart alternates between Herman Melville’s great-great-great nephew’s debaucherous early aughts in NYC and his poor childhood with a hippie single mother in Darien, CT. The post-Play chapters include plenty of turn-of-the-century gossip: about his relationships with Natalie Portman and Christina Ricci, his feud with Eminem, his eventual friendships with his childhood heroes David Bowie and Joe Strummer. I was particularly impressed by a dinner party he had with Bowie, Iman, Lou Reed, and Laurie Anderson, where Bowie played Moby an early version of “Slow Burn” and gifted him one of the stylophones he’d bought on eBay to make it.
The book details the copious drug use and promiscuity Moby engaged in after he found fame. (Page Six memorably reported in 2002 that Moby “gets more ass than the toilet seat in a ladies’ bathroom.”) None of that is news, really, but there was one anecdote that totally surprised me, and that was Moby’s romance with the future Lana Del Rey. I couldn’t find any reference online to them dating, so obviously we are gonna correct that now.
Moby had his first date with a platinum blonde aspiring musician named “Lizzie Grant” in 2006. The two went to a vegan macrobiotic restaurant and then to Moby’s newly renovated five-floor penthouse in the El Dorado building on Central Park West, where he had neighbors like Bono and Alec Baldwin.
“Do you want a drink?” I asked Lizzie.
“No, I’m sober,” she said. I was surprised, because we’d met the week before in a bar at 3 a.m., and I assumed everyone in a bar at 3 a.m. was as drunk as I was.
Lizzie was from Albany. She had short bleached hair and looked like a beautiful elf. We’d kissed at the bar at 4 a.m., just as the place was closing, and I’d asked her to come home with me. She’d smiled and said no, she wouldn’t go home with me after just meeting me, but she would happily go on a date if I called her and asked her out.
I called her the next day, and we talked for thirty minutes about music and politics and growing up in the suburbs. She was beautiful, smart, and charming; making plans to meet up with her was both what I wanted to do and what my new therapist had told me to do.
Moby then describes taking Lana to each of the apartment’s five balconies, which wowed her as the views were incredible. “Do you need a nanny?,” she joked. “Can I pitch a tent up here?”
During dinner she told me she was a musician so I asked, “Will you play me some of your music?”
“Sure, do you have a piano?”
“Yes, back on the second floor,” I said.
“Floors in an apartment.” She shook her head. “Moby you know you’re the man.”
“Ha, thanks,” I said.
“No, not like that. You’re a rich WASP from Connecticut and you live in a five-level penthouse. You’re ‘The Man.’ As in, ‘stick it to The Man.’ As in the person they guillotine in the revolution.”
I didn’t know if she was insulting me but I decided to take it as a compliment.
Moby attempts to counteract the sentiment by explaining that he grew up on welfare.
Lizzie sat down at the piano. I hadn’t known what to expect, but her song was haunting. And her voice was dark but strong.
“You’re really good,” I told her when she finished.
“Thanks she said, smiling sweetly.
“Do you have a record deal?”
“I’m working with a manager, but you know how it is. Or maybe you don’t,” she said, gesturing at the penthouse.
“So you’d make music under your name? Lizzie Grant?”
“I don’t know. When you say it like that it sounds kind of plain.”
“I think it’s a nice name.” I sat next to her on the piano bench and started kissing her. She kissed me back — but then stopped.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I like you. But I hear you do this with a lot of people.”
I wanted to lie, to tell her that I didn’t, that I was chaste, sane, and ethical. But I said nothing.
“I’d like to see you again,” she said.
I walked her downstairs to the twenty-ninth floor and kissed her good night at the bank of the elevators.
This wasn’t how I imagined the night ending. I’d assumed that we would end up christening my new apartment with vodka and sex. But to my surprise, this was almost nicer.
Lana spelled her name Lizzy at the time, but it may not surprise you that there are plenty of misspellings in the book. Moby confirms the pop star’s identity a few chapters later when he writes about his side-project Little Death: “Lizzie Grant, whom I’d tried dating a couple of years ago, was one of our original backup singers, but she left the group to pursue her own career as Lana Del Rey.” Lizzy Grant ended up opening for Little Death at NYC’s Mercury Lounge in 2008.
Tl;dr Lana Del Rey plays piano.
Moby’s Then It Fell Apart (Faber & Faber) is in bookstores now. Lana Del Rey’s cover of another ’90s hitmaker, Sublime, is out too.