White Ferrari is a song from singer-songwriter Frank Ocean, featured in his 2016 album Blonde. The song experiments with genres like R&B and Psychedelic Pop. White Ferrari was not released as an official single.
The Title – What does it mean?
The song title symbolizes the innocence of youth. The color white is associated with purity and virginity. The image of a fast car implies the raging hormones surging through the veins of teenagers. The passion is high at that age. So, White Ferrari becomes a metaphor for young love.
Verse 1 – What does it mean?
Bad luck to talk on these rides
Mind on the road, your dilated eyes watch the clouds float
The expression “dilated eyes” serves as a double entendre when put together with “these rides”. It either implies that Frank Ocean and his Lover are high on drugs (cocaine, probably). Or, it could mean that they are riding a sports car (White Ferrari) that goes very fast on the road.
In both situations, talking to the driver can be dangerous (“Bad luck”) as it could distract him. The term “Bad luck” may also be a prediction of the relationship between Ocean and his lover ending in the future. Staring at the clouds is similar to daydreaming. This could mean that the lover is not truly in the moment with Ocean.
White Ferrari, had a good time
(Sweet sixteen, how was I supposed to know anything?)
Here, Ocean talks about the innocence of being a 16-year old teenager. He did not know any better. The ride in the White Ferrari was just that – a car ride. Apparently, nothing more (read sexual) happened between Ocean and his lover.
This also suggests that the “lover” was perhaps only a romantic interest who did not reciprocate Ocean’s feelings. As Frank Ocean has admitted in real life, it took him time to come out of the closet and reveal to the world that he is gay. Perhaps, he was uncomfortable and scared at the age of 16. Ocean did not truly understand his attraction to the lover in the White Ferrari.
I let you out at Central
I didn’t care to state the plain
Kept my mouth closed
We’re both so familiar
Frank Ocean dropped off his lover at Central City (“Central”), a New Orleans neighborhood. New Orleans is Ocean’s hometown and the Central City is a historic site of African-American culture. This hints at Ocean’s lover being of African-American decent.
While dropping his lover off, Ocean did not tell them “the plain”. This expression refers to the simple fact that Ocean is in love with the person. But he chose to keep it a secret.
“…so familiar” implies that Ocean and his lover have known each other for some time now. The routine of dropping the lover off at Central City is very familiar to both of them. “…familiar” could also describe the closeness between the two – they are very comfortable in each other’s company.
White Ferrari, good times
Ocean reminisces the past when he rode his lover in his White Ferrari.
Verse 2 – What does it mean?
Stick by me, close by me
You were fine, you were fine here
That’s just a slow body
Inside the White Ferrari, Ocean and his lover sat close to each other in the front. The lover was “fine”, as in, comfortable sitting next to Ocean. But inside, Ocean was very conscious of their physical closeness. This happens when you are around someone you have feelings for. The lover is oblivious to Frank Ocean’s sentiments.
“…slow body” could refer to the lover’s lack of response to Ocean’s feelings.
You left when I forgot to speak
So I text the speech, lesser speeds, Texas speed, yes
Frank could not verbally express his feelings to his lover in the car. So he decided to text a message to the lover on the phone. “…lesser speeds” hints at intoxication from lean, a street drug made from over-the-counter cough medicines. The drug is known to slow down your reflexes.
Ocean goes on to use the term “Texas speed”, which implies Ocean is taking time to type the message out. The Southern State of Texas is famous for taking it slow, vis-à-vis, a metropolitan city where life goes by very fast. Ocean is hesitant to type the message, so he is intentionally delaying it.
Basic takes its toll on me, ‘ventually, ‘ventually, yes
Ahh, on me ‘ventually, ‘ventually, yes
“Basic” here could mean multiple things. Something or someone is basic if they follow the norm, without doing anything extraordinary. Confessing your love through text messages is basic, as most people do not have the courage to do so in person. Ocean has sent the message and is realizing what he has done. “’ventually, ‘ventually” is Ocean reassuring himself that the task is done and now he can only wait for the outcome.
Another thing that the term “Basic” implies is Ocean’s ambition to become a musical artist. In the beginning of his career he was panned as a basic artist with nothing special to offer. “’ventually” in this case is Ocean telling himself that eventually he would prove his critics wrong. He must be patient.
Verse 3 – What does it mean?
I care for you still and I will forever
That was my part of the deal, honest
We got so familiar
These lines could be referring to the White Ferrari itself. Frank Ocean has been vocal about his love for cars. In a Tumblr post, he revealed how much of his life has been spent inside a car.
Ocean tells his lover that he still has feelings for them. His “part of the deal” is still intact. This hints at the lover reciprocating Ocean’s sentiments. They probably shared a romantic relationship, before Ocean embarked on his musical journey.
Spending each day of the year
White Ferrari, good times
The first line is an interpolation of the song Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles. Ocean borrowed both the melody and the words from this song.
In this life (Life), in this life (Life)
One too many years
Some tattooed eyelids on a facelift
(Thought you might want to know now)
The imagery of “tattooed eyelids on a facelift” refers to inaccessible memories, buried deep in the subconscious. A facelift is a procedure that pulls the skin tight to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Due to this, the eyes are pulled back and appear to be perpetually open. If you get the eyelids tattooed, no one will be able to see them.
“…you might want to know now” hints at Ocean finally confessing his love to the past lover. All this time, Ocean made several attempts but failed. This time, perhaps as an established musician, he is finally revealing his true feelings.
Mind over matter is magic, I do magic
If you think about it, it’ll be over in no time
And that’s life
“Mind over matter” is an idiom that means, prioritizing thoughts and ideas over materialistic things. Ocean is now a rich artist. But he still prefers his emotions and thoughts over the money he has made. His ability to think deeply has taught him how fast life is and things get “over in no time”. So this is the right time to confess.
Verse 4 – What does it mean?
I’m sure we’re taller in another dimension
You say we’re small and not worth the mention
This verse highlights all the differences between Ocean and his lover. The use of the term “dimension” implies the contradictory priorities they both have. The comparison between “taller” and “small” further emphasizes this point.
You’re tired of movin’, your body’s achin’
We could vacay, there’s places to go
Clearly, this isn’t all that there is
The lover wants to settle down, but Ocean is interested in exploring the world. Ocean may never be satisfied with a permanent life (“this isn’t all that there is”).
Can’t take what’s been given (No way)
But we’re so okay here, we’re doing fine
Primal and naked
Ocean talks about their natural temperaments that they were born with. He is inherently an explorer/traveller, while the lover wants a home. They are naturally like that.
These differences may not keep them together, but they have accepted the truth.
You dream of walls that hold us in prison
It’s just a skull, least that’s what they call it
And we’re free to roam
In their thoughts and imagination, Ocean and his lover can be together forever. There are endless possibilities in the mind and they shall be “free to roam”.
White Ferrari is a personal poem disguised as a song by Frank Ocean. It beautifully describes the conflict between love and ambition. Even if two lovers cannot share the same physical space, they can always cherish each other in their memories.