folklore by taylor swift | my favorite lyrics + review

28 August, 2020

Taylor Swift is her own genre, the best artists are. She released folklore  unannounced last month, less than a year from her last album, and with story telling we have never seen from her before. Folklore has the gentle personality of her Red  album with the unfiltered honesty of Reputation. Although at my core I'm a fan of rock music, I've been a fan of hers since the very beginning and can say this album is one of her best and came at the perfect time.

I am in love with how wordy this album is. I've always loved Taylor's songwriting and her ability to tell stories and I think people often over look how talented she is. A lot of her pop songs are fun to listen to and have different plays on words but this record really shows her raw talent for writing that her fans have loved in Red  and what we saw in her way back when she wrote her debut album. Lyrics are the main reason I listen to music and folklore gave me all those words I cherish so much. As a writer/ poet/ artist, I'm so excited to have 16 more songs to pour over and find something new inside each time. 

1 | the 1

"you know the greatest loves of all time are over now"

"in my defense I have none, for digging up the grave another time"

The first track is logically called "the 1" and fits into my theory that each song strongly correlates to its track number. Taylor Swift thinks of everything and this is a great opener for the album, introducing us to the ending and a new beginning at the same time.

2 | cardigan

"stepping on the last train, marked me like a bloodstain,
I knew you.
tried to change the ending, peter losing wendy,
I knew you.
leaving like a father, running like water,
and when you are young they assume you know nothing."

3 | the last great american dynasty

"who knows, if I never showed up, what could have been.
there goes the loudest woman this town has ever seen.
I had a marvelous time ruining everything."

This is one of my favorite songs of the album because of the way it tells a simple story from start to finish in a way that is personal and easy to think about again and again.

4 | exile

"I never learned to read your mind / never learned to read my mind,
I couldn't turn things around / you never turned things around,
cause you never gave a warning sign / I gave so many signs."

When I first heard this song I was taken a back by the deep voice of Bon Iver and I expected this to be Taylor's return to country. It turned out to be one of my favorite songs because of the line "you never gave a warning sign" and Taylor's response "I gave so many signs." I know what it's like to feel like you are reaching out to someone and like you are giving them so many signs only to be ignored but to hear another voice saying they never actually saw you were reaching out. It is just a really specific moment and it feels too personal, too real.

5 | my tears ricochet

"I didn't have it in myself to go with grace,
and you're the hero flying around, saving face.
and if I'm dead to you, why are you at the wake?"

"you know I didn't want to haunt you, 
but what a ghostly scene.
you wear the same jewels that I gave you,
as you bury me."

The infamous track 5. In Reputation, she wrote that "the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now, why? oh cause she's dead," which was a funny way to acknowledge that she was choosing to reinvent herself with that album. In this song she uses similar metaphors relating to death to show the end of a relationship and more importantly the end of her old self and how we want to mourn it too. Sayings like: "I love you to death," "to death til us part," and "you're dead to me," are all things she references in this song and the lines "if I'm dead to you, why are you at the wake?" makes us think about hard it is for two people to really let go. 

6 | mirrorball

"I want you know, I'm a mirrorball.
I can change everything about me to fit in."

"I'm still on that trapeze,
I'm still trying everything
to keep you looking at me."

"I'll show you every version of yourself tonight." 

7 | seven

"and though I can't recall your face, 
I've still got love for you.
your braids like a pattern,
love you to the moon and to saturn."

"I think your house is haunted,
your dad is always mad and that must be why."

"just like a folk song,
our love will be passed on."

Seven paints a picture of childhood in the summer and all those sweet memories. So many things you don't want to let go of and so many things you can't forget.

8 | august

"back when we were still changing for the better,
wanting was enough,
for me it was enough,
to live for the hope of it all,"

This feels like a really specific song about a really specific person. Many fans speculate that Cardigan, August, and Betty are three songs about a love triangle because of the connections they make between summer romance and the betrayal talked about in Betty. 

9 | this is me trying

"they told me all of the cages were mental,
so I got wasted like all my potential,
and my words shoot to kill when I'm mad, 
I have a lot of regrets about that."

"you're a flashback in a film reel 
on the one screen in my town."

10 | illicit affairs

"it's born from just one single glance
but it dies and it dies and it dies
a million little times."

"don't call me kid, don't call me baby,
look at this godforsaken mess that you made me."

11 | invisible string

"bad was the blood of the song in the cab,"

"time, mystical time,
cutting me open, then healing me fine."

"cold was the steel of my axe to grind,
for the boys who broke my heart."

Every verse in the song has such a pretty play on words that I can't get out of my head. In this song she talks about a gold string tying them together and later in another song talked about how she was torn apart in two.

12 | mad woman

"and there's nothing like a mad woman,
what a shame she went mad.
no one likes a mad woman,
you made her like that."

"and women like hunting witches too, 
doing your dirtiest work for you."

The funny thing about reputations is that you never really have any control over how any one will see you and there is freedom in accepting that you are not other people's opinions of you.

13 | epiphany

"some things you just can't speak about."

"something med school did not cover, 
someone's daughter, someone's mother."

Epiphany is truly one of Taylor's most original songs and although she is known for making a good sad song, she's never made anything like this before. It is piercing and angelic and heartbreaking. It's reminiscent of the way that some of the loudest moments in your life are the quietest. My favorite line is "someone's daughter, someone's mother" because it reminds us that the distant people we hear about on the news are just people like everybody else and it reminds us of our own humanity.

14 | betty

"I was walking home on broken cobblestones
just thinking of you when she pulled up,
like a figment of my worst intentions
she said 'james get in, lets drive'
those days turned into nights,
slept next to her but 
I dreamt of you all summer long."

Taylor Swift curses in this song. There are many theories about betty  that I am not going to go into but the harmonica on this track reminds of her debut album which I love a lot. It also tells an amazing story from a unique perspective in a way that is really intimate. If an entire coming of age movie were a single song it would be this.

15 | peace

"but I'm a fire and I'll keep your brittle heart warm, 
If your cascade, ocean wave blues come,
all these people think love is for show,
but I would die for you in secret."

"your integrity makes me feel small,
you paint dreamscapes on the wall."

"the rain is always gonna come
if your standing with me."

Peace is my favorite song on this album in a way that is hard to explain. I love the guitar cord and rhythm of her voice and all those other music words people use to describe songs. This song is (in my opinion) about accepting fate and choosing to pursue what you want anyway. It's about a raw honesty that is so hard to show and someone pleading another to believe in them. I love it.

16 | hoax

"don't want no other shade of blue but you,
no other sadness in the world would do."

Long story short: I love Taylor Swift and her guitar and I always will. 

Similar themes in this album are letting go and starting over, knowing things for certain and holding on to them, trying to change other people's perception of you, nostalgia, and growing as a person. I love the theories about cardigan / august / betty  and the way she can break it up into chapters like the stories she is so good at creating. Her music puts my mind in an unburdened place and I can't recommend it enough. Every song on this album is a slow dance. If you've heard the album and have thoughts or any other music recommendations I would love to hear them!


Join the conversation!

  1. I've listened to Folklore, and my favorite song was Mirrorball <3 I found myself putting it on replay over and over again for a week straight.. haha! No shame. It is indeed a lovely album!

    Anna Jo |

    1. Mirrorball is such a good song + I'm glad you like it! ♡


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