Taylor Swift dropped her surprise eighth studio album, “Folklore,” on Friday, and it’s packed with emotion.
In a statement on Twitter, Taylor explained the inspiration behind the album: “It started with imagery. Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity,” she wrote. “Pretty soon these images in my head grew faces and names and became characters. I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I’ve never met, people I’ve known, or those I wish I hadn’t.”
These are some of the most powerful lyrics from each song on the album.
“In my defense, I have none / For never leaving well enough alone / But it would’ve been fun / If you would’ve been the one”
The first track from “Folklore” paints a picture of nostalgia for a lost love that could have been the one. Taylor’s “never leave well enough alone” reference echoes her last album’s lead single, “ME!,” in which she exclaims, “I know that I went psycho on the phone/ I never leave well enough alone.”
“To kiss in cars and downtown bars / Was all we needed / You drew stars around my scars / But now I’m bleedin’”
Upon the album’s release, Taylor changed her Twitter bio to “you drew stars around my scars,” indicating that it may be a favorite line of hers. She’s used imagery of bleeding and scars in previous works like “Bad Blood” and “Death By A Thousand Cuts.”
THE LAST GREAT AMERICAN DYNASTY
“There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen / She had a marvelous time ruining everything”
The song’s main character, Rebekah, throws lavish parties at her inherited home, casting aside the judgment of the town. The lyrics continue on a theme Taylor explored in her last album: letting go.
“You’re not my homeland anymore / So what am I defending now? / You were my town, now I’m in exile, seein’ you out / I think I’ve seen this film before”
In this heartbreaking collaboration with Bon Iver, Taylor reflects on a lost love. The lyrics all are reminiscent of her 2010 track, “If This Were A Movie,” in which Taylor laments that her love doesn’t have a Hollywood ending.
MY TEARS RICHOCHET
“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace / And so the battleships will sink beneath the waves / You had to kill me, but it killed you just the same”
Taylor is known for delivering an emotional punch with Track 5 on her albums, and this is no different. Like “Delicate” and “The Archer” before it, “My Tears Ricochet” explores the artist’s most vulnerable emotions and cuts to the core.
“I’m a mirrorball / I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight / I’ll get you out on the floor / Shimmering beautiful / And when I break, it’s in a million pieces”
Taylor paints an image of a shiny but fragile mirrorball, reflecting those around it.
“Please picture me in the weeds / Before I learned civility / I used to scream ferociously any time I wanted”
In the aptly named seventh track off “Folklore,” Taylor calls back to a simpler time, when she “peaked at seven.”
“To live for the hope of it all / Canceled plans just in case you’d call / And say ‘Meet me behind the mall’”
Taylor croons over a more hopeful time in a doomed relationship, recalling a time when the promise of the future was more exciting than the current heartbreak.
THIS IS ME TRYING
“And it’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound / It’s hard to be anywhere these days when all I want is you / You’re a flashback in a film reel on the one screen in my town”
Taylor further explores the idea of her lover as her home, which she also addresses in “Exile.”
“Look at this idiotic fool that you made me / You taught me a secret language / I can’t speak with anyone else”
In this honest reflection on the fleeting excitement of an affair, Taylor breaks down how a forbidden love can leave her feeling empty.
“Time, mystical time / Cutting me open, then healing me fine / Were there clues I didn’t see? / And isn’t it just so pretty to think / All along there was some / Invisible string / Tying you to me.”
In the album’s most romantic song, Taylor plays with the idea of fate, imagining a string tying her to her lover through all her previous heartache.
“And women like hunting witches too / Doing your dirtiest work for you”
This isn’t the first time Taylor has referenced a witch hunt. In “I Did Something Bad” from her “Reputation” album, Taylor sings, “They’re burning all the witches / even if you aren’t one.”
“Only twenty minutes to sleep / But you dream of some epiphany / Just one single glimpse of relief / To make some sense of what you’ve seen”
In this heart-wrenching song, Taylor struggles with the idea of death and suffering, hoping that sleep can bring a way to understand the reason for the pain.
“If you kiss me, will it be just like I dreamed it? / Will it patch your broken wings?”
Taylor sings of a high school romance between James and Betty, detailing the ups and downs of their homeroom meetings and parties with friends.
“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’s for show / But I would die for you in secret”
Taylor questions if her lover can be with her despite her inability to “bring peace,” but asserts her unwavering commitment.
“You know I left a part of me back in New York / You knew the hero died so what’s the movie for? / You knew it still hurts underneath my scars / From when they pulled me apart”
Taylor sings of a lover’s unexpected betrayal, once again referencing movies, just as she did previously on “Exile” and “This Is Me Trying.”