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The Study of Swiftology

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  • More actual footage of Taylor today:

    That has all the feel of a TS/Joe pseudonym though. There are 13 letters in William Bowery after all.
    Oh, good catch!

    Swifties believe that Betty is Joe's mom and so that's one of the songs he co-wrote.
    Joe's mom's name is Elizabeth, so that's not impossible! 'Betty's garden" would literally be Joe's family's backyard where they randomly burned a chair in a bonfire, so . . .

    It's so weird going into an album release with no singles, no snippets, no info from Secret Sessions! but it's possible some people have already heard it?





    and from one of the musicians:

    And from two forum 'insiders':

    It's folk acoustic. "5 songs are (explicit) "**** you forever" My fav are: mirrorball, august, this is me trying, epiphany." - Mr. S
    Steve from IC said its a fantastic album, one of taylor’s best, beautifully written and produced. Also that country fans will be very happy with Betty.

    We have so little info that every drop seems precious right now.

    That could be our new quarantine game where you pick a random ass name and the person below you has to create a Kaylor narrative for it.

    They've already decided that 'William Bowery" is Karlie because she was papped in front of The Bowery Hotel once, I guess. (Who hasn't been?)

    Here's some more klassic reaches because oh! they kays are FEASTING.

    I love that tomorrow is the day Karlie announced her fake engagement, and exactly 2 years later Taylor releases an album called FOLKLORE. What’s not clicking? Seriously.
    I think Karlie was photographed wearing a cardigan back in November 2019. I think it was tan and had some pattern on it and she was wearing black sunglasses and had a black bag. Hair was the platinum blonde looking color also I think. I’m and shook lol

    Track 2 is Cardigan or shall I say KAR-Again? Stay in bed the who WEEKEND-it's nice to have a friend... while sleeping in tents!
    TTB, on June 20th you got an anon ask that pointed out "143 Day (I-LOVE-YOU) is a celebration of the Kindness and legacy of Mister Rodgers, and to celebrate him people wear a Cardigan on World Kindness Day which is on 11/13. This also happens to be the Kaylor Anniversary Date!" CARDIGAN dropping tonight, as in the thing people wear on the Kaylor Anniversary date!!!
    another note on imagery: in the snippets video, she's wearing boots. COMBAT boots. Her dress is delicate and pretty, but she needs combat boots to get through rough terrain....

    the fact that karlie wore white dresses on her stunts with jerk It matches taylors album aestethic.
    Are we going to have to pretend Toe inspired this music? It’s folklore and she worked with the National and Bon Iver. There is only on explanation for this.
    Oh wow, yeah... this year will make SEVEN years from when they first met officially in November. There are too many things happening all at once. How can people say they are not together. I mean. How can people believe that. They started their closeness on a trip in the f*cking woods y'all!!

    KAR-again. KAR-again, y'all!

    This kind of nonsense from Vulture only feeds the kay beast even more:

    Journalist kays are THE WORST. They basically do negative fact checking and call it a day.


    • it's really happening!!!

      folklore= so much creamy dreamy softness. Love it. LOVE IT.

      My notes:

      The 1 = haylor (sorry but I don't make the rules)

      cardigan = also haylor (I'm joking but maybe I'm not)

      the last great american dynasty = SHE WROTE A SONG ABOUT HER HOUSE I LOVE IT

      exile = floaty moody lovely break up song. One of her best collabs, I think.

      my tears ricochet = super good! another lovely break up song! ummm . . . HAYLOR.

      mirrorball = so soft so so so soft

      seven = feels like childhood in the best way but also a dark way

      august = summer beach fling vibes (gotta be one of the teen triangle songs - the one for 'the other girl')

      this is me trying = smooth and sad and gorgeous

      illicit affairs = also smooth and sad and gorgeous? it's a theme here

      invisible string = bouncy but still soft? this one is for Joe, no doubt (bad blood playing in his cab in LA!)

      mad woman = I Did Something Bad but make it super soft (anti-koots/mrs.koots song)

      epiphany = well, this made me cry. A pandemic tribute song for the frontline folks.

      betty = the guy's perspective in the teen triangle trio

      peace = for Joe, about the difficulties of being with her

      hoax = hoo boy. So frickin pretty, such a heart breaker.

      * see Taylor's chat in screenshots below.

      On first listen my fave is invisible string (which includes the UHMAZING line "Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart/ Now I send their babies presents" (Joe and Sophie Jonas shout out!). I'd put my tears ricochet right up there, too. And maybe hoax. And exile. Honestly so hard to pick only a couple of faves. But! My least fave is betty.

      I know Taylor never makes the same album twice, but I'd take a dozen more of these yes plz.

      It's a lot of break up songs, though! I doubt it means anything for Taylor/Joe, probs just the sad girl summer quar mood we've all got going on. She made it clear she was telling 'stories' and mentioned 'imagination' and 'characters' so . . . probs a DBATC kinda thing.

      Taylor did a live chat before the release and this is what I swiped from tumblr:

      (that lost romance comment was about my tears ricochet)

      make of that what you will.

      Okay! Bedtime!


      • I don't have a lot of time, grrrrr!

        Obvs there's a lot of a lot to sift through on this album, but just wanted to highlight two things first . . . so the teen triangle songs are august (from the nameless 'other girl's' persepctive), betty (from James' perspective), and cardigan (from Betty's perspective years later). (and should probs be listened to in that order . . . a,b,c)


        An explainer from tumblr:

        The Love Triangle Storyline:


        Lyrical continuity/Easter eggs:

        - The cardigan

        - The cobblestones

        - The car

        - The front porch

        - Summer romances

        Cardigan: betty’s perspective

        - Seems to be the song of Betty’s perspective on her love, she thought it was all they needed in the moment, but then he left (with another woman: “chase two girls, lose the one”), but he returned to her front porch after summer ended

        Notable lyrics: High heels on cobblestones/And when I felt like I was an old cardigan, Under someone's bed, You put me on and said I was your favorite/ Chase two girls, lose the one/To kiss in cars and downtown bars, Was all we needed, You drew stars around my scars, But now I'm bleedin'/peter losing Wendy/I knew you'd haunt all of my what-ifs/I knew you'd miss me once the thrill expired, And you'd be standin' in my front porch light, And I knew you'd come back to me

        Betty: James’ perspective

        This is the song that ties cardigan and August together mentioning things from both, which would makes sense as “James” is the one spending time With the two other participants of the long triangle, it seems Betty was the one he truly loved but he got swept away in a summer romance that he wasn’t fully committed to and later regretted, turning up on bettys porch to ask forgiveness

        Notable lyrics:

        The worst thing that I ever did, Was what I did to you/ In the garden would you trust me, If I told you it was just a summer thing?/ I was walking home on broken cobblestones/ When she pulled up like A figment of my worst intentions, She said "James, get in, let's drive", Those days turned into nights, Slept next to her, but I dreamt of you all summer long/ Will you kiss me on the porch?/Standing in your cardigan, Kissin' in my car again

        August: The Summer lovers perspective

        The woman James left with for the summer (she sings about pulling up in her car, which is retold in Betty from James’ perspective) tells her perspective of loving someone who was never hers for a summer, but when he went back to school he didn’t want her. He wasn’t “hers to lose” because he loved and then returns to Betty after their summer affair

        Notable lyrics: August slipped away into a moment in time, 'Cause it was never mine/ Will you call when you're back at school?, I remember thinkin' I had you/So much for summer love and saying "us", 'Cause you weren't mine to lose/Remember when I pulled up and said "Get in the car"/

        So this seems like a bit of an effort at lyrical YA fiction, although for reals Taylor has PLENTY of past experience in love triangles and cheating situations to draw from.

        And secondly, The Last Great American Dynasty was written about the history of her house on Watch Hill in Rhode Island. It used to be owned by Rebekah Harkness . . . who was known as Betty, fyi. (although there doesn't seem to be much in common between her and the betty song lyrics directly).

        from tumblr:

        I’m having a break down over The Last Great American Dynasty!!! Taylor tells the story of Rebekah Harkness and all the trouble she caused in Watch Hill Rhode Island with her insane parties, feuds with neighbors and her general debauchery that was the talk of the town. And then she died and Holiday House sat quietly for 50 years, “free of women with madness, their men and bad habits” AND THEN Taylor has the audacity to say “And then it was bought by me // I had a marvelous time ruining everything” because Taylor was know for her crazy parties there and her “men and bad habits” and we know there were tabloids publishing stories of her fighting with people in town.

        The house:

        About Betty West:

        (yes, notorious scammer Caroline Calloway is a Big Swiftie).

        It's an insanely cool song and I very much think she should do one for ALL of her houses. Don't make the others feel left out! Her Bev Hills house used to belong to Samuel Goldwyn, I think? So there would be some fascinating stories there. And her Tribeca penthouse belonged to Peter Jackson, so . . . I guess she could do something Lords of the Ring-ish for him, I dunno.

        Anyway, just wanted to get those things off in a post before doing a re-listen.

        If y'all are interested in reading some reviews, they have been Very Good so far! There's a round-up here of early ones:


        The general consensus summed up below:


        If the muted rollout was an unexpected turn for a superstar whose previous efforts have been heavily promoted for months, the end product was nothing short of shocking.
        "Folklore" is more mellow, restrained and mature than Swift's previous offerings, delving into darkness on more than one occasion -- but the early notices are glowing.

        "Her emotional acuity has never been more assured," the Guardian wrote in an adulatory five-star review.

        "It's hard to remember any contemporary pop superstar that has indulged in a more serious, or successful, act of sonic palate cleansing," Variety added.

        "'Folklore' feels fresh, forward-thinking and, most of all, honest," NME opined.
        And NME deemed "The Last Great American Dynasty" -- a bouncing biography of 20th-century socialite Rebekah Harkness -- a "contender for the best Taylor Swift song ever written."

        And from USA Today:

        Have you ever listened to "All Too Well" and said, "Great, now can I have 16 more of these?"

        That's essentially what Taylor Swift has done on "Folklore," her most introspective and emotionally raw album yet. The 10-time Grammy winner, who is known for her meticulously orchestrated album rollouts, broke from tradition and surprise-announced "Folklore" on Thursday, less than 24 hours before its Friday release.

        After embracing her pop side on her past three albums, including last year's "Lover," the former country star is switching up her sound once again. This time, she's taking a page from some of her songwriting heroes including Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King. While plenty of pop luminaries such as Justin Timberlake ("Man of the Woods") and Lady Gaga ("Joanne") have taken detours into stripped-down folk/soft rock, none have made the transition as seamlessly as Swift, who reminds us once again that she's the most gifted songwriter in music today.

        . . .

        After years of being the media's punching bag, it's incredibly moving to hear Swift take back her power on "Folklore," her second album on Republic Records and second that she has completely owned as well. Eight albums and 14 years into her career, it's also thrilling to watch Swift continue to grow and evolve, showing that she can still surprise us in more ways than one.


        • I've listened twice and it definitely got better the 2nd time. I LOVED IT. Someone somewhere said that it is basically Red's older alt sister and I was like YES. I still need more time with it to pick a favorite, but I really love Exile, The 1, and Epiphany. I liked Betty and BettyWho's tweet about it made laugh.

          TLGAD: Her saltbox house on the coast took her mind off St. Louis

          Also, there's some reasonable spec that Betty is Blake and Ryan's 3rd kid's name since she also included James and Inez in that song. I mean, I get why people think that. But I also don't see Blake naming her kid Betty so who knows? Betty is everyone, everyone is Betty.


          • One thing about the Harkness connection that I thought would especially draw Taylor in is that Harkness saw herself as a composer above else. That delighted me.

            The album is good, and I knew within the first three songs it would be her best reviewed album because she brought in "alternative" music men to work on it with her.
            Itís just really honestly so tiring and emotionally draining to have to get upset over reality constantly.


            • I still haven't had time to listen to the whole thing! I catch bits between meetings, and I love the sound. It takes me a while to warm up to songs so I don't have a favorite list yet. For instance it took me forever to love Death by a Thousand Cuts, though I lovelovelove it now.

              The album is good, and I knew within the first three songs it would be her best reviewed album because she brought in "alternative" music men to work on it with her.
              I saw someone say that this one won't need Ryan Adams doing a cover to prove that it's good.

              So this seems like a bit of an effort at lyrical YA fiction, although for reals Taylor has PLENTY of past experience in love triangles and cheating situations to draw from.
              This may be the album where her breakup songs turn the corner from all being about her past to being mostly fiction. Like, sorry Kays, Betty ain't Karlie, and her talking about a female love interest doesn't prove she's gay; it's a STORY.

              The professional journalist Kaylors give me secondhand embarrassment; I can't be as amused by them as by the Kween and her minions.


              • Well, I guess Baby #3 really is a Betty! Betty Reynolds is legit a granny name, but I hope she is a cranky bossy Betty like her name implies.

                the UHMAZING line "Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart/ Now I send their babies presents"
                I forgot to say that this is probs my favorite lyric! I chuckled when I heard it. And also said "Joe Jonas!!!"


                • I love that lyric too.

                  Finally made it through one listen. I love peace, the follow-up to the Archer.

                  Your integrity makes me seem small
                  You paint dreamscapes on the wall
                  I talk shit with my friends, it's like I'm wasting your honor
                  And you know that I'd swing with you for the fences
                  Sit with you in the trenches
                  Give you my wild, give you a child
                  Give you the silence that only comes when two people understand each other
                  Quarantine made her ready to talk about being a mom, maybe?


                  • Quarantine made her ready to talk about being a mom, maybe?

                    That line gave me palpitations!

                    And also said "Joe Jonas!!!"

                    I'm guessing kays don't like that line either, because they insist JJonas is gay and Sophie is a beard and their baby is fake.

                    Yep, the Reynolds-Livelys did name their youngest kid betty?

                    Y'all haylor is killing me.

                    Hayley from Paramore understands my folklore struggle.

                    so does ALW:

                    As an fyi, one of the best ways to listen to folklore is to watch the official lyric videos (each song gets one! They are lovely! Thanks, Taylor!):


                    The prologue makes it extra clear that a lot of the perspectives in this album are fictional:

                    “It started with imagery. Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity.

                    Stars drawn around scars. A cardigan that still bears the scent of loss twenty years later. Battleships sinking into the ocean, down, down, down. The tree swing in the woods of my childhood. Hushed tones of “let’s run away” and never doing it. The sun drenched month of August, sipped away like a bottle of wine. A mirrored disco ball hovering above a dance floor. A whiskey bottle beckoning. Hands held through plastic. A single thread that, for better or for worse, ties you to your fate.

                    Pretty soon these images in my head grew faces or 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. An exiled man walking the bluffs of a land that isn’t his own, wondering how it all went so terribly, terribly wrong. An embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession. A seventeen-year-old standing on a porch, learning to apologize. Lovestruck kids wandering up and down the evergreen High Line. My grandfather, Dean, landing at Guadalcanal in 1942. A misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out.

                    A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around. Sometimes even sung about. The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible. Speculation, over time, becomes fact. Myths, ghost stories, and fables.

                    Fairytales and parables. Gossip and legend. Someone’s secrets written in the sky for all to behold.

                    In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve.

                    Now it’s up to you to pass them down.”

                    Which I kinda love? One of these days, she's going to actually publish her own YA series, and it's going to be awesome.

                    Buzzfeed wrote a profile on epiphany:


                    I can't even read that, it's all too emotional. epiphany is folklore's SYGB for me.

                    Rolling Stone did one on The Last Great American Dynasty:


                    After Rebekah Harkness died in 1982, her daughter Terry took her mother’s remains home in a Gristede’s shopping bag, according to a story in the New York Times. Or, at least, a leg, half of her head and an arm, so the rumor went. The folks at the funeral home couldn’t fit all of Harkness’ ashes in the $250,000 custom urn made by Salvador DalŪ. Dubbed the Chalice of Life, the jeweled bauble was designed to spin in its base — so Harkness could always be dancing.

                    In 2013, Taylor Swift bought Harkness’ former home — Holiday House — in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. “I wonder if Taylor Swift might like to hear the story of the time a body washed up on the beach under her Watch Hill mansion,” wrote a reporter for the New London Day at the time. “The product of a boating accident, not foul play.” Swift may be the gossip mill’s fodder du jour, but in her day, the former owner of her Rhode Island home may have had her beat.

                    I want a house with a wild history, that would be cool.

                    Rob Sheffield's review in Rolling Stone:


                    Like the rest of us, Swift had to cancel her summer, including her LoverFest shows, which would have been next week. Instead, she spent the quarantine season throwing herself into a new secret project: her eighth album, Folklore. But the real surprise is the music itself — the most head-spinning, heart-breaking, emotionally ambitious songs of her life.

                    . . .

                    She’s always relished her dramatic creative zigzags, but this is easily her most audacious move, full of story-telling depth she’s never come close to before. Some of us have spent years dreaming Taylor would do a whole album like this, but nobody really dreamed it would turn out this great. Her greatest album — so far.

                    . . .

                    It’s amusing in retrospect how people actually worried that being happy in love might mean Swift would run out of things to write songs about. Not a chance. It turns out to be the other way around, as she lets these characters tell their own stories: A scandalous old widow, hated by her whole town. A scared seven-year-old girl with a traumatized best friend. A host watching her enemies at the funeral. Recovering addicts. A fumbling teenage boy.

                    . . .

                    If Lover was the last album of her twenties, Folklore is the first of her thirties. Lover was styled as a well-rounded musical autobiography, with everything from Nashville twang to electro-disco. Folklore takes a completely different approach, yet feels even more intimate, simply because it’s the sound of an artist with absolutely nothing to prove. She’s never sounded this relaxed or confident, never sounded this blasť about winning anyone over. It makes perfect sense that the quarantine brought out her best, since she’s always written so poignantly about isolation and the temptation to dream too hard about other people’s far-away lives. (“Last Kiss” is usually a summer favorite, but this year, “hope it’s nice where you are” feels a little too close to the bone.) On Folklore, she dreams up a host of characters to keep her company, and stepping into their lives brings out her deepest wit, compassion, and empathy. And it sounds like for Taylor Swift, her best is yet to come.

                    Rolling Stone gave folklore 4.5/5 and The Guardian gave it 5/5 . . . yep, this might be her best reviewed album yet, which is crazy for something she threw together in a couple of months in total secrecy. She might even get AOTY for it, who knows?

                    The album is good, and I knew within the first three songs it would be her best reviewed album because she brought in "alternative" music men to work on it with her.

                    . . . oh, right. That's exactly what is going to get her AOTY if it happens at all ever again, because this world sucks.

                    Taylor has finally been a little active on twitter:

                    Speaking of daddies, one of the saddest lines in cardigan is "leaving like a father". That's right up there with 'you made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter'.

                    Oh, Scott Swift. Judging you!

                    Other random bits . . .

                    halsey is a fan (I love their friendship):

                    Onto looking at my tears ricochet:

                    Swift shared via Instagram that “my tears ricochet” is about an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of affection.” She revealed in a YouTube livechat that it was the first song she wrote for folklore.

                    Some fans believe it connects to Swift’s personal life as well — on August 2017’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift infamously proclaimed “the old Taylor” dead. The prominent funeral imagery makes it sound like Swift may be mourning this metaphorical murder.

                    I think that's true and! on tumblr, cages-boxes-hunters-foxes had the realization that the song is actually about her masters and Scott B.'s betrayal and Big Machine and I can see that for sure:

                    [Verse 1]
                    We gather here, we line up, weepin' in a sunlit room
                    And if I'm on fire, you'll be made of ashes, too
                    Even on my worst day, did I deserve, babe
                    All the hell you gave me?
                    'Cause I loved you, I swear I loved you
                    'Til my dying day

                    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?
                    Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
                    Look at how my tears ricochet

                    [Verse 2]
                    We gather stones, never knowing what they'll mean
                    Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
                    You know I didn't want to have to haunt you
                    But what a ghostly scene
                    You wear the same jewels that I gave you
                    As you bury me

                    I didn't have it in myself to go with grace
                    'Cause when I'd fight, you used to tell me I was brave
                    And if I'm dead to you, why are you at the wake?
                    Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
                    Look at how my tears ricochet

                    And I can go anywhere I want
                    Anywhere I want, just not home
                    And you can aim for my heart, go for blood
                    But you would still miss me in your bones
                    And I still talk to you (When I'm screaming at the sky)
                    And when you can't sleep at night (You hear my stolen lullabies)

                    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
                    Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
                    You turned into your worst fears
                    And you're tossing out blame, drunk on this pain
                    Crossing out the good years
                    And you're cursing my name, wishing I stayed
                    Look at how my tears ricochet

                    . . . that seems super plausible. Not a song about a relationship break up but about her break up with Scott (who she said she loved like family) and BMG, which was her musical 'home' for many 'good years' that are now 'crossed out'. He had to 'kill her' but in doing so, actually killed himself/his business, too. And he's cursing her name, wishing she had stayed with his label. Oh, and 'stolen lullabies', duh! HE LITERALLY STOLE HER LULLABIES. I won't be able to hear this song any other way now.

                    So MTR and Mad Woman seem to both be about the situation with her masters.

                    I mean, this is totally about the Brauns:

                    My cannons all firing at your yacht
                    They say "move on"
                    But you know I won't
                    And women like hunting witches, too
                    Doing your dirtiest work for you
                    It's obvious that wanting me dead has really brought you two together

                    Oh, and she seems to be calling out Kooter for being a dirty dirty cheater in MW as well:

                    The master of spin
                    Has a couple side flings
                    Good wives always know
                    She should be mad
                    Should be scathing like me

                    All righty, are you guys up some deep diving into the bts song writing stuff? I love the song writing stuff, but there's kind of a lot a lot of text here so you can slide down to the William Bowery section if you want.

                    Jack waxes lyrical about the process:

                    And then we've got a whole lotta press from Aaron from The National:

                    “The only thing she said to me initially was that she didn’t want me to worry about anything that she’d done before and that I should just be myself — just inhabit the emotional space that you’re feeling or your musical and emotional space. And so I really didn’t endeavor to become Max Martin or whoever. I was just sort of being myself. And so was she. I think she’s incredibly versatile, obviously. A lot of these songs, they sound to me as though she could have been doing this all along in her career, this kind of sound or something. It’s not at all unnatural. In fact, it sounds incredible. This is all complete. It’s finished. It feels produced, but I think it will feel fairly organic or raw compared to past things. At some point, Taylor did articulate her vision for folklore. Other songs came after that. I was very inspired by her and what she’d been writing, and then I wrote more music, and she responded to that. We just started to push ahead…She’s just an absolutely brilliant artist. Allowing her to flourish like that, there was no pressure. She wasn’t trying to make something for anyone else except for herself in this time. I don’t think even her label knew. We were just working. That’s maybe the liberating. When you put something in the pipeline of the music industry and it takes months of prep — not to take anything away from that because it’s important, especially if you’re coming up and you don’t have an audience. But once you do, I think it’s nice to play around the form of it. The world is a different place right now, and nobody really knows. All the rules are being rewritten. Live music is not happening. And in a way, it’s nice to make something and just put it out because people are stuck at home and being able to hear something. This will be a really positive gift for her fans.”

                    “We met her at Saturday Night Live in 2014 when Lena Dunham was hosting. And then she came to see us play last summer in Prospect Park during this crazy torrential downpour. She was there with Antoni [Porowski] from Queer Eye. She talked a lot with my brother and me. That’s when we realized how much of a fan she was, and how lovely and down to earth. I don’t know that many people who have that sort of success, so it’s a nice feeling to realize they’re cool. That left a good impression. She got in touch again at the end of April. I got a text and it said, ‘Hey it’s Taylor. Would you ever be up for writing songs with me?’ I said, ‘Wow. Of course.’ It was a product of this time. Everything we had planned got cancelled. Everything she had planned got cancelled. It was a time when the ideas in the back of your head came to the front. That’s how it started.

                    “I think she was interested in the emotions that she feels in some of the music that I’ve made. So I just sent her a folder of things I’d done recently and was excited about. Hours after, she sent back a fully written version of ‘Cardigan.’ It was like a lightning bolt struck the house.”


                    Yeah. We were pretty much in touch daily for three or four months by text and phone calls. Some of it was about production and restructuring things but a lot of it was just excitement. We both felt that this was some of the best work we have done. That was a strange and surreal thing to have happen, especially at this time. At one point I was randomly doxxed by right-wing conspiracy theorists who misidentified me as an Antifa organizer in Ohio, long story, but it was in the middle of all this work. I didn’t want to stress her out so I didn’t tell her. But at some point she laughed and said, ‘So you’re a notorious anarchist?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I was gonna mention that.’”

                    . . . .

                    “She was a bit cryptic. I didn’t know that we were actually working on a record for quite a while. It just seemed that she was seeking me out to collaborate. And then we were both feeling very inspired by it. Once there were six or seven songs that we had written over a couple of weeks, she said, “Hey can we talk?” Then she said, ‘This is what I’m imagining,’ and started to tell me about the concept of Folklore. Then she mentioned that she’d written some songs at an earlier stage with Jack [Antonoff], and they felt like they really fit together with what we were doing. It was a very inspiring, exhilarating collaborative process that was almost entirely remote. Very sort of warp speed, but also something about it felt like we were going toe-to-toe and in a good pocket.”

                    “When you’re working with someone new, it takes a second to understand their instincts and range. It’s not really conscious. She wrote ‘Cardigan,’ and then ‘Seven,’ then ‘Peace.’ They kind of set a road map, because ‘Cardigan’ was this kind of experimental ballad, the closest thing to a pop song on the record, but it’s not really. It’s this emotional thing, but it has some strange sounds in it. ‘Seven’ is this kind of nostalgic, emotional folk song. Even before she sang to it, I felt this nostalgia, wistful feeling in it, and I think that’s what she gravitated towards. And ‘Peace,’ that just showed me the incredible versatility that she had. That song is just three harmonized bass lines and a pulse. I love to play bass like that — play one line then harmonize another, and another, which is a behavior I stole from Justin Vernon, because he’s done that on other things we’ve done together. And actually, that’s his pulse, he sent me that pulse and said, ‘Do something with this.’ But when she wrote that song, which kind of reminds me of a Joni Mitchell song over a harmonized bassline and a pulse, that was kind of like, ‘Woah, anything can happen here.’ That’s not easy to do. So, in the morning I would wake up and try to be productive. ‘Mad Woman’ is one I wrote shortly after that, in terms of sound world, felt very related to ‘Cardigan’ and ‘Seven.’ I do have a way of playing piano where it’s very melodic and emotional, but then often it’s great if whoever’s singing doesn’t sing exactly what’s in the piano melody, but maybe it’s connected in some way. There was just some chemistry happening with her and how she was relating to those ideas. ‘Epiphany’ was something she had an idea for, and then I imagined these glacial, Icelandic sounds with distended chords and this almost classical feeling. That was another one where we wrote it and conceived it together. She just has a very instinctive and sharp musical mind, and she was able to compose so closely to what I was presenting. What I was doing was clicking for her. It was exhilarating for us, and it was surreal — we were shocked by it, to be honest [Laughs]. I think the warmth, humanity and raw energy of her vocals, and her writing on this record, from the very first voice memos — it was all there.”

                    . . .

                    “She would always explain what each song was about to me, even before she articulated the Folklore concept. And I could tell early on that they were these narrative songs, often told from a different… not in the first person. So there are different characters in the songs that appear in others. You may have a character in ‘Betty’ that’s also related to one in ‘Cardigan,’ for example. And I think that was, in her mind, very, very important. It doesn’t seem like, for this record at least, that she was inspired to write something until she really knew what it was about. And I think I’m used to a more — at least lately — impressionistic and experimental world of making stuff without really knowing what it is. But this was more direct, in that sense. That was really helpful, to know what it was about and it would guide some of the choices we were making. Every time she would send something, she would narrate a little bit, like how it fit, or what it was about. And then when she told me about Folklore as a concept, it made so much sense. Like ‘The Last Great American Dynasty,’ for example, this kind of narrative song that then becomes personal at the end — it flips and she enters the song. These are kind of these folkloric, almost mythical tales that are woven in of childhood, lost love, and different sentiments across the record. It was binding it all together and I think it’s personal, but also through the guise of other people, friends and loved ones.”

                    . . .

                    “Justin Vernon is so versatile and has such a crazy range, and puts so much emotion… Every time he sings when I’m in his presence, my head just kind of hits the back of the wall. That’s the same on this song. William Bowery and Taylor wrote that song together, got it to a certain point, then I sort of interpreted it and developed a recording of it, and then Taylor tracked both the male and female parts. And then we sent it to Justin and he re-did obviously the male parts and changed a few things and also added his own: He wrote the ‘step right out’ part of the bridge, and Taylor re-sang to that. You feel like, in a weird way, you’re watching two of the greatest songwriters and vocalists of our generation collaborating. I was facilitating it and making it happen, and playing all the music. But it was definitely a ‘Wow.’ I was just a fan at that point, seeing it happen.”

                    . . .

                    “‘Betty,’ which is a song she wrote with William Bowery, she was interested in sort of early Bob Dylan, like Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, I think. ‘Epiphany,’ early on, felt like some weird Kate Bush-meets-Peter Gabriel thing. I think we talked a little about those things, but not a lot. Actually, I think she really trusted me as far as my instincts to where the music would ultimately go, and also the mixing process. We really wanted to keep her voice as human, and kind of the opposite of plastic, as possible. That was a bit of a battle. Because everything in pop music tends to be very carved out, a smiley face, and as pushed as possible so that it translates to the radio or wherever you hear it. That can also happen with a National song — like if you changed how these things are mixed, they wouldn’t feel like the same song. And she was really trusting and heard it herself. She would make those calls herself, also.”

                    Interesting that not even her label knew she was working on TS8:

                    “There was no outside influence at all. In fact, nobody knew, including her label, until hours before it was launched. For someone who’s been in this glaring spotlight for 15 years, it’s really liberating to have some privacy and work on her own terms. She deserves that. At times, if I wanted friends to play on the record, it was a little difficult because you can’t send a file with her vocals. But everyone was cool. At the end, I reached out to some wizards just to add bits, and that was nice. It was kind of fun: ‘What? Why can’t you tell me, Aaron?’ Then they start guessing. Everyone made a game out of it.”

                    I'd just like to note that in her post BMG career of like a year, we've gotten 37 songs and a documentary. It's apparently very freeing to be able to do whatever you want whenever you want and to have full support of your label.

                    “There are things I feel could still be songs. It does feel like an ongoing collaboration. Now Taylor is starting to help with other things. We’re bouncing other ideas off each other, whether it’s Big Red Machine or other things. There’s a community aspect. I think that’s how music should be.”

                    I definitely support this idea, like if Taylor and The National and Bon Iver wanted to merge into a supergroup, that would be A-OKAY.

                    Here's the good stuff!

                    More about William Bowery from Aaron who is very! evasive!

                    Also this:

                    “I’m not [familiar] either. I haven’t actually met him (WB) because of social distancing, which is kind of funny. I think he’s a friend.”

                    "He's a friend" uh huh.

                    It's Nice To Have A Friend You Are Stuck At Home With So You May As Well Write Some Songs Together.

                    So if Joe = WB (that 'if' is doing some heavy lifting here), then they wrote Exile and betty together . . . which makes sense because those songs have male POVs in them. And if Joe is the one who came up with the concept of exile, then maybe it had some roots in summer '16?

                    I can see you standin', honey
                    With his arms around your body
                    Laughin' but the joke's not funny at all

                    . . .

                    I can see you starin', honey
                    Like he's just your understudy
                    Like you'd get your knuckles bloody for me


                    Well, it makes me wonder a tiny bit if the cat and mouse they played for a month or two or three was significant enough to make Joe jealous when Taylor started jetting off with THiddles.

                    That was literally what I thought of. We still know so little about what kinda contact she and Joe had early on, but maybe so!

                    And if he also helped her write betty from a 17 yr old boy's perspective, then it's pretty amusing that folks on twitter are calling it her gayest song.

                    (violet is a what now)

                    If her boyfriend helped her write it, it would LITERALLY make it her straightest song ever, but they are not ready for that conversation. (and it's perfectly okay to interpret Taylor's songs anyway people want to obvs, it's only questionable when they also try to force her to be their fake gay Taylor Barbie doll when she's made it clear she identifies as straight).

                    Speaking of Joe . . .

                    All the kays excited that Taylor mentioned Betty West was from St.Louis are obvs overlooking the fact that Joe worked in a yogurt shop when younger (and Karlie did not).

                    Teal was the color of your shirt
                    When you were sixteen at the yogurt shop
                    You used to work at to make a little money

                    -- invisible string

                    For no reason at all...didn’t Joe mention once that he worked at a frozen yogurt shop?

                    joealwyndaily answered:

                    yes he did!

                    “I did have this one job in London,” he says wryly. “Do you know that frozen yogurt place, Snog?”
                    I’m struggling to picture Alwyn serving up frozen delights. He’s laughing now. Was it a good gig? “
                    Exceptional!” More laughter follows. “I mean, I was paid some money! Then I worked in a menswear shop. I did what I could to make some extra cash.”

                    The shop:

                    The teal shirts they wear:

                    kays are like WE DON'T SEE IT LA LA LA LA

                    I suppose they could always photoshop a teen Karlie into a yogurt shop in St. Louis if they are True Kaylors and all.

                    Speaking of, now we know what Taylor and Joe did for their third anniversary, they went to the Lake District (and apparently she wrote The Lakes about that):

                    Bad was the blood of the song in the cab
                    On your first trip to LA
                    You ate at my favorite spot for dinner
                    Bold was the waitress on our three-year trip
                    Getting lunch down by the Lakes
                    She said I looked like an American singer

                    -invisible string

                    “The Lakes” is a bonus track for vinyl, CD and (what a flex) cassette, but it’s a must-hear: Taylor walks in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, the Romantic poet who essentially invented the kind of introspective writing she does, wandering the Windermere Peaks of the Lake District.

                    Unless, you know, the kays want to pretend Taylor and Karlie toured The Lake District in the UK as well. (they didn't!)

                    They also ignore these lines from peace (which I agree is the sibling to the archer!):

                    Family that I chose now that I see your brother as my brother


                    . . . which is the second time Patrick has gotten a shout out on an album (third if you count the Junior Jewels shirt) and yet the kays can't figure out how to twist any of Karlie's sisters into a brother. (It's so fricking sweet how much Taylor seems to love Patrick, right?)

                    They are also clearly incapable of understanding that many of the songs are stories/fiction, which has some worried for their girls!

                    Or! it's a break up album to seed the Joe/Taylor break up announcement FINALLY:

                    Regardless, it's reassuring to know that folklore is simply the next step in the GAYgenda:

                    That is a thing of beauty.

                    This however is not . . .

                    This Buzzfeed journalistic kay weighs in:


                    My lesbian-heavy timeline is losing their minds over “Betty,” a tale of teenage crushes, that is bouncy with laid-back harmonica vibes; it’s very old-school, Fearless-era Taylor. Swift said she’s written songs from the perspective of different people, both real and fictional, and this one is apparently from the POV of a boy named James who regrets the way he treated his classmate Betty. #Kaylor truthers and other queer Swifties were quick to note that Swift was named after James Taylor, so might she really just be writing about herself? The song’s already been declared queer canon.

                    As someone who was 99.9% convinced that Swift was going to come out as something other than straight during the Lover era — and then got seriously burned — I’d like to think I’m over Taylor's longtime queerbaiting. I really do think she’s guilty of it, subtle as she might be sometimes; she’s an infamously frequent Easter egg deployer who’s far too savvy about her own image-making to be completely unaware of how often she’s courted speculation about her sexuality from her representation-hungry young fans. I also somewhat soured on her after Miss Americana, the artist-approved documentary about the star that came out earlier this year. (How was that this year????) After what I thought was a strong and provocative first half, in which Swift wrestles with the implications of broadcasting her political opinions after years of frustrating silence, the film devolves into one-note pro-Taylor propaganda — revealing that, as she discloses early on, Swift is still just as obsessed with needing to be liked, to be seen as “good” (the very thing she embarked on the project to supposedly free herself from).

                    . . . this sounds like someone who actually only 'soured' on Taylor because their gaylor bias wasn't confirmed by her. How many many many times have we seen conspiracy theorists get angry and blame the celeb in question for refusing to become the fictionalized version the theorist created in their head? Which is fine I suppose in rando kays on tumblr, but kinda disturbing in supposed 'professionals' who should know better and just irks me greatly.


                    • All righty, are you guys up some deep diving into the bts song writing stuff?
                      I love that shit, so thanks for gathering it all here.

                      This is making me want to check out the National; if they’re good enough for Taylor, why not.

                      And if Joe is the one who came up with the concept of exile, then maybe it had some roots in summer '16?
                      We NEED more BTS detail on that Cruel Summer. Many albums could be made about nothing else.


                      • So after listening in a loop while doing stuff this morning, I am calling illicit affairs my insta-favorite. It perfectly captures the feeling of that, in a way that she is either really really genius, or she has done it at some point.


                        • This album is filled with great couplets, lovely metaphors, dreamy melodies, and on and on. I LOVE IT.

                          My faves are the 1 (So much ruminating on what might have been! Totally my thing!), cardigan ("and when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone's bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite" -- the LAYERS as in he both inhabited her skin and put her on by lying and also just all the ruminating on the past again!), exile (love everything about it), august, illicit affairs, invisible string and betty. There's so many things I enjoy about these songs.

                          LOL. I love half and the rest are pretty good, too!

                          Also, Smash Mouth posted "borelore" and it's just so perfect because folkbore would actually be a lot better of a play on words and they suck so hard they can't even take the low-hanging fruit. Anyway, my boyfriend Dylan O'brien posted shortly after: "Fuck Smash Mouth" and that just goes to show he's still the best.
                          Itís just really honestly so tiring and emotionally draining to have to get upset over reality constantly.


                          • Apparently Smash Mouth’s manager is friendS with Scott Borchetta, so that explains the sudden hatred of a band everyone forgot about for Taylor Swift. It got them more attention than they’ve had in a long time, but I do not consider it a good business model to get the Swifties mad at you.


                            • One of the perks of interminable road trips is that you get a LOT of YouTube time and I found these reaction videos that were so enjoyable yesterday. If you want to watch a couple of Australian 20 somethings squeal and lose their shit, please enjoy:

                              They freak out in exactly the way you expect, but their joy is contagious and they just love their TSwizzle so much, they can't even take it.


                              • Those brought me joy. Thank you, Issie!

                                Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner apparently had the baby that Taylor sent gifts to, so that’s nicely timed.