Dissecting Taylor Swift’s Folklorian Visual Universe, Part II: Evermore

Now that we’ve explored the first chapter of the Cardigan songstress’ and three-time Album of the Year winner’s newfound ambition for fictional worldbuilding in her music, it’s time to take a look at the second entry in her saga of alternative music.  

As opposed to Swift’s previous projects, Evermore, her third album under Republic Records and 9th studio album overall, went on to extend the universe of the previous record, the critically acclaimed Folklore.  

“To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs,” the 31-year-old singer/songwriter detailed in an Instagram post, referring to herself and the other creative masterminds behind Folklore.

“It feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in.” 

And so, together with her collaborators Aaron Dessner (The National), Jack Antonoff, and with the occasional writing credit of her boyfriend Joe Alwyn under the pseudonym William Bowery, Swift birthed Evermore, a project which she now refers to as the sister record to her previous LP.  

In this article, we’ll take a look at the extent to which Evermore, with its 15 tracks (including collaborations from pop-rock band HAIM and Dessner’s very own The National) builds on the visual lore already established on the older, critic darling sister record. 

Track One: Willow 

1. Swift uses the imagery of a swaying willow tree to symbolize the all-defining relationship with her partner; “Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind”

2. The image of a champion ring trophy is used to symbolize the same person, Swift describing them as “As if you were a mythical thing, / Like you were a trophy or a champion ring” 

Track Two: Gold Rush 

3. Swift imagines the population of a neighboring coastal town admiring the special bond between her and her lover: “And the coastal town we wandered ‘round had never seen a love as pure as it”

4. Sinking ships on waters is a metaphor used by Swift to describe the way she is captivated and entranced by the beauty of her partner. “So inviting, I almost jump in”, she adds, highlighting her instinctive attraction to said person.

5. Her teacup is the image which her aforementioned daydreaming ultimately fades into, addressing the impossibility of the relationship: “And then it fades into the gray of my day-old tea, / ‘Cause it will never be” 

Track Three: Champagne Problems 

6. A quiet night train is the temporary home of emotional soreness for an ex-fiancéé abandoned by their partner: “You booked the night train for a reason, so you could sit there in this hurt” 

7. An unopened bottle of Dom Perignon now sits without purpose after a ceremony of love will no longer take place: “Your sister splashed out on the bottle, / Now no one’s celebrating, / Dom Perignon, you brought it/ No crowd of friends applauded” 

8. The gut-punching “She would have made such a lovely bride, / What a shame she’s fucked in the head, they said” sang on the bridge reveals the vision of a bride tormented into abandoning her lover due to the gossip and judgement surrounding her mental health. 

9, 10, 11. A family heirloom that no longer has a purpose, a piece of affectionate memorabilia tucked away and a shattered heart of glass: “Your mom’s ring in your pocket, / My picture in your wallet, / Your heart was glass, I dropped it” 

12. A shredded wall tapestry, the broken heart bound to be pieced together by the comfort of a future lover: “She’ll patch up your tapestry that I’ve shred” 

Track Four: ‘Tis the Damn Season 

13. A car parked between a Methodist church and an old school: “I parked my car right between the Methodist, and the school that used to be ours” 

14. “Time flies, messy as the mud on your truck tires 

Track Five: Tolerate It 

15. A dining table set with luxurious linen and gleaming plates: “I polish plates until they gleam and glisten, / I lay the table with the fancy shit, / And watch you tolerate it” 

16. “Where’s that man who threw blankets over my barbed wire?” signifies the now long-gone effort of a lover to comfort and approach their other half. 

17. “I used my best colors for your portrait – Offering the absolute best of yourself to a person who fails to do the same for you. 

18, 19, 20. Swift idolized and prioritized her significant other, which can be shown in the imagery of “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky 

21, 22. “Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life, / Drawing hearts in the byline, always taking up too much space and time”. Another lyric that visually highlights the insignificance the singer feels in the relationship with the fictional beloved. 

Track Six: No Body, No Crime (feat. HAIM) 

23. An olive garden restaurant  

24. The suspicious-looking car of an unfaithful, murderous husband: “He reports his missing wife, and I noticed when I passed his house his truck has got some brand-new tires” 

25, 26. A mistress, sleeping in the bed of said husband’s wife: “And his mistress moved in, / Sleeps in Este’s bed and everything” 

27, 28. Swift’s useful capabilities as her alter-ego observed through the lens of her memories: “Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen, / And I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene 

Track Seven: Happiness 

29,30. “Across our great divide, / There is a glorious sunrise, / Dappled with the flickers of light from the dress I wore at midnight, / Leave it all behind” 

31. “When did your winning smile begin to look like a smirk?” 

32. “Now my eyes leak acid rain on the pillow where you used to lay your headA very Swiftian way of saying “I am crying”. 

Track Eight: Dorothea 

33.  A childhood park revisited through memory: “Hey, Dorothea, do you ever think about me? / Down in the park, honey, making a lark of the misery” 

34. You’re a queen selling dreams, selling makeup and magazines 

35. Two teen girls bailing on prom to spite their parents: “When we were younger, skipping the prom just to piss off your mom and her pageant schemes” 

36. Bleachers that will forever remain the old meeting spot of two best friends who are now worlds apart: “Are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers, / Well, I guess I’ll never know” 

Track Nine: Coney Island (feat. The National) 

37. A lone woman/man contemplating the loss of a romantic partner in New York City: “I’m sitting on a bench in Coney Island, wondering where did my baby go” 

38, 39. “The fast times, the bright lights, the merry-go 

40. “Sorry for not making you my centrefold”. The centerpiece of a magazine, some of the most important pages in a piece. Switf compares her ex romantic interest to this, highlighting how she failed to attach enough importance and attention to them. 

41, 42. “We were like the mall before the internet, it was the one place to be“ 

43. The apologetic declaration continues with “Sorry for not winning you an arcade ring. Arcade prizes, when won, are often gifted to one’s date or partner as a romantic gesture. The lyrical self failed to do the same with their own partner. 

44. “Were you waiting at our old spot in the tree line by the gold clock, did I leave you hanging every single day?” 

45. “Were you standing in a hallway with a big cake?” 

46. “Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest gray?” 

47. “When I walked up to the podium, I think that I forgot to say your name” 

Track Ten: Ivy 

48. A slight yet powerful spark: “Your touch brought forth an incandescent glow, / Tarnished but so grand” 

49. An elderly widow mourning the loss of her spouse in front of their tombstone: “And the old widow goes to the stone every day, / But I don’t, I just sit here and wait, / Grieving for the living” 

50. A cold hand reaching out: “My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand” 

51. An ivy-covered stone house used as a metaphor for the romantic interest growing roots in the thoughts and emotions of a person: “My house of stone, your ivy grows, / And now I’m covered in you” 

52. Clover blooms in the fields 

53, 54. Crescent moon, coast is clear 

55. “He’s gonna burn this house to the ground 

56. “Dare to sit and watch what we’ll become, / And drink my husband’s wine 

57,58. “It’s a fire, it’s a goddamn blaze in the dark and you started it” 

Track Eleven: Cowboy Like Me 

59. An open field covered up with a marquee: “And the tennis court was covered up with some tent-like thing” 

60,61. “You’re a cowboy like me, / You’re a bandit like me” 

62, 63. A more complex sentiment is described through the images in “Now I’m waiting by the phone, like I’m sitting in an airport bar”. This could symbolize the frustration of Swift’s alter ego endlessly waiting for a man to reach out to her, the passage of time compared to that experienced when travelling by plane; the atemporality of airports. 

64. “And the ladies lunching have their stories about when you passed through town. A piece of lore previously mentioned on the record, locals gossiping about the private life of an individual. Could allude to Swift’s issues with tabloids and the media. 

65, 66. “Now you hang from my lips, like the gardens of Babylon”. A lyric of much discussion among listeners of Swift, could simply be a poetic way of describing a kiss between two lovers. In another sense, and if we look at the song closely, it is clear that the track is about two bandit-like lovers who fall for each other but ultimately end up going back to their old ways. Hanging from one’s lips like the mythical scenery of the Babylonian Hanging Gardens could also mean the fact that, from the perspective of Swift’s character, their love is now only folklore – some might believe it happened, some might not. 

67. “Your boots beneath my bed, / Forever is the sweetest con”. Although the lover had left their partner behind, their cowboy boots are still sitting under her bed – a constant reminder of the short-lived affair. 

Track Twelve: Long Story Short 

68. I was in an alley surrounded on both sides. This line is often interpreted as Taylor referencing her time with the media hate train directed at her in 2016 as a result of the Kim and Kanye fabrications. 

69. “When I dropped my sword, I threw it in the bushes and knocked on your door. Signifying letting one’s guard down with regard to outside forces to focus on the positives of a relationship. 

70. “I fell from the pedestal, right down the rabbit hole.  

71,72,73. Pushed from the precipe, clung to the nearest lips / … Climbed right back up the cliff. Similarly to the previous line, it’s related to the supernova-like downfall of a person, finding the first person to drown their sorrows with, then ultimately landing on one’s feet. 

74,75. “And he’s passing by, rare as the glimmer of a comet in the sky” – Comparing a current lover to a rare natural apparition, highlighting just how much one ought to appreciate it. 

Track Thirteen: Marjorie 

76. “You loved the amber skies so much”. The track is dedicated to Taylor’s late grandmother Marjorie, who had a love for sunsets. 

77. Long limbs and frozen swims, / You’d always go past where our feet could touch” – further memories Swift has of her late grandmother. 

78. “Should have kept every grocery store receipt, / Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me”. After the passing of a loved one, it is often healing to safekeep their personal belongings, however, in this case, Swift is short of such things. 

79,80. “Watch as you signed your name Marjorie, / All your closets of backlogged dreams, / And how you left them all to me”. This line signifies the close similarity between Swift and Marjorie – they both were performers; Marjorie an opera singer. The closet of backlogged dreams refers to how Taylor continued her grandmother’s passion for performing through her own music career. 

Track Fourteen: Closure 

81, 82, 83. “I’m fine with my spite, and my tears, and my beers, and my candles” – Swift has her own methods of coping with a breakup. 

84. “Reaching out across the sea that you put between you and me, / But it’s fake and it’s oh so unnecessary”. The track illustrates the selfish attempt of an ex-lover to iron out the tension between the old couple. Swift calls this out, and refers to the break-up as a larg body of water that was inserted between the two. 

Track Fifteen: It’s Time to Go 

93. “Fifteen years, fifteen million tears, / Begging ‘til my knees bled”. Most fans speculate how this track talks about Swift’s time with Big Machine Records, the label she had been signed to originally for 15 years since her debut. Swift got the master recordings of her first six studio albums sold out from under her without her knowledge, after she had tried to take ownership of them for years. 

95. “Now he sits on his throne, in his palace of bones, praying to his greed. Fans made the connection how the above line is in reference to music mojul Scooter Braun, who purchased said master recordings. The palace of bones metaphor can be interpreted as Taylor’s first six records. Now stripped of their original owner, they are nothing more but empty shells. 

96. “He’s got my past frozen behind glass, but I’ve got me” Quite self-explanatory; Swift being the main songwriter on all of the aforementioned records, she had poured parts of her soul and life experiences into them.  Even so, not all is lost – she has herself.

Evermore is now available on the music service of your choice.