Taylor Swift – folklore – Lyrical Highlights

Taylor Swift is an artist that handles album releases with such care and I’m sure that it came as a surprise to everyone when she dropped her 8th studio album, folklore, without any sort of pretense. This was quite a shock coming from an artist that announces an album months prior to its release, normally with the lead single and video dropping at a predetermined date as well, has listening parties for her fans to hear the record before everyone else, and generally creates a lot of hype for every project. However, not only was folklore a drastic difference release wise than what most T. Swift fans are used to, it’s even more drastically different in tone and content than her previous material. For the past at least four records, she has focused primarily on creating catchy pop tunes with lyrics specifically centered around her life. The lyrics are something that certain fans especially anticipate, relentlessly creating theories and trying to decipher who the song could be about. But this time, things were different. This time, we saw Taylor take a different perspective to her usual songwriting and focus on telling more fictional stories, hence the album name, instead of things that she’s exactly experienced. And even thought there are aspects of the record that could be related back to certain themes in her own life, for the most part, it’s very broad in terms of relatability, which makes it refreshing to go into listening to without having predetermined ideas about the meaning of the songs. With the overall indie feel of everything, it doesn’t feel like Taylor’s trying too hard to create hit singles or stir up attention; with this one, she really just lets the music speak for itself and I couldn’t be happier with it. Swift has always been one of my favorite songwriters and I’m beyond excited that this project really puts those skills on display. With that being said, I’m very excited to present some of the best lyrical moments from folklore.

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“exile”

“I think I’ve seen this film before / And I didn’t like the ending / I’m not your problem anymore / So who am I offending now”  

I think it’s safe to say that “exile” is already a fan favorite on the record, probably because of the Bon Iver feature but also because of how the melodies and lyrics melt together to create the full effect of the track. This first half demonstrates this failed relationship that they knew was doomed yet kept trying to fix, and the second half is comprised of some self deprecation, describing how this person feels like a burden to whoever they’re around. Beyond being relatable, the musical portion that goes with these lines is what also helps bring them to life.

“the 1”

“You know the greatest films of all time were never made”

One thing I really like the lyrics on here is how there are so many movie references that bounce off one another. This line in particular is pretty simple and could just be alluding to things that are over before they even begin.

“my tears ricochet”

”We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean / Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring”

I think by “stones”, Swift means facts about people. We collect memories, ideas and general knowledge about everyone around us, and we can either use those “stones” to hurt them but metaphorically stoning them, or turning them into gems (which are rocks anyway) to use them for good such as presents or praise.

“illicit affairs”

“And that’s the thing about illicit affairs / And clandestine meetings and stolen stares / They show their truth one single time / But they lie and they lie and they lie / A million little times”

This chorus part is one of my favorites from the entire project. An illicit affair is something that is forbidden and what I find interesting is personifying the affair itself. Basically, the affair between these two people is honest an real; maybe they really care for each other but can’t let anybody else know. That one single time the affair shows its truth is when they’re together alone. But beyond that, when discussing this affair with anyone outside of that realm, is where the lies come in because it’s impossible for this affair to be honest due to it’s forbidden nature.

“peace”

“All these people think love’s for show / But I would die for you in secret”  

Many people, especially with the rise of social media, feel the need to document every part of every relationship. Is it Facebook official? Have you two posted on Instagram together yet? But at the end of the day, that’s not what true love is. Sometimes being private is the best demonstration on caring for someone, and this can also reflect how Swift feels about her not officially announced boyfriend she’s allegedly been with for the past four years.

3 Comments

  1. While I’ve liked some of her music, I’ve never really been much of a Taylor Swift fan. I especially disliked her songs where she tries to sound ‘tough’ like “Blank Space”, “Bad Blood”, “…Ready For It?” and “Look What You Made Me Do”. But I loved “folklore” at first listen. I think it’s her best work yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, that’s what I was getting at – that those other songs just sound inauthentic, or phony, like she’s trying to be someone’s she’s not. And it’s not simply a case of an artist wanting to venture outside their comfort zone by doing a song in another genre. A talented Malaysian singer I follow, who usually sings pop and folk-style ballads, recorded a metal rock song last year, and did a great job with it, coming across totally believable. Sadly, in T. Swift’s case, she’s just so well-known that every single thing she does is put under a microscope, which isn’t fair, but it’s the price of fame I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

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