Taylor Swift’s Evermore as Amalgamation: Tolerate It Analysis

16 Dec

The production is minimal, which lets the listener focus on the lyrics.

Tolerate- accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance.

[Verse 1]

I sit and watch you reading with your head low

First subject of the song reads.  Maybe it’s her father, b/c we know Taylor is an avid reader.

I wake and watch you breathing with your eyes closed

The second subject in the song is a more intimate relationship.  Karlie?

I sit and watch you

The third subject of the song is more distant, professional maybe.  Scott Borchetta?  She goes through three lines of description to denote each character addressed in the song.

I notice everything you do or don’t do

Her father was a dreamer, though Taylor never said (as far as I know) if her lyric about “a careless man’s careful daughter” is autobiographical: “My mom thinks of things in terms of reality and my dad always thinks in terms of daydreams… ” He was the one who envisioned (and funded) success: “I never really went there in my mind that all of this was possible. It’s just that my dad always did.” 

So Taylor admired her dad’s dreamy thinking, at least as far as getting her on her trajectory as a star.  Yet, in the Miss Americana doc, her and her father don’t sit next to each other.  He doesn’t seem to treat her with sympathy or talk to her like a daughter, in my opinion and from my own father-daughter experiences.  The relationship portrayed in those couple of scenes (I know, it’s not the whole story) was more like one of client, or even product.  And lines like, “leaving like a father running like water” [“Cardigan” folklore] underline the fact that not all is well between Taylor and her dad.

You’re so much older and wiser, and I

These lines show that these three characters are people Taylor watches and learns from, people she admires.  Authority figures and maybe even inspirations.

[Chorus 1]

I wait by the door like I’m just a kid

“Kid” tells me this verse is speaking to a person around when Taylor was a child.  

Use my best colors for your portrait

These two lines also remind of of “Illicit Affairs” in folklore, suspected to be about Karlie cheating on Jo$h with Taylor.

“And you wanna scream

Don’t call me kid

Don’t call me baby

Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me

You showed me colors you know

I can’t see with anyone else”

Lay the table with the fancy shit

This table could be a family dinner.

And watch you tolerate it

If it’s all in my head, tell me now

Tell me I’ve got it wrong somehow

I know my love should be celebrated

But you tolerate it

These last four lines in the chorus really speak to the gay experience.  To me, “tolerate” invokes religious figures preaching tolerance of sinful behaviors, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”  And this sentiment has historically been used in regard to LGBT people when churches interpret the Bible as condemming homosexuality.  It’s bled into the mainstream with people believing tolerance isn’t homophobic (spoiler alert: It is homophobic).  And Taylor sings on her personally-wrenthing TRACK 5 that the hurt of someone who you really look up to not accepting you for who you are is painful. Track 5 is not going to be a made up fairytale/horror story.  This is Taylor’s life.

[Verse 2]

This verse, unlike the other two doesn’t begin with the “kid” line, so we know this could be one of Taylor’s more recent relationships.

I greet you with a battle hero’s welcome

Here’s an actual headline I found:

Karlie Kloss Is a Fashion Week Hero | W Magazine | Women’s …

www.wmagazine.com › karlie-kloss-louis-vuitton-garage

Feb 12, 2016 —

This line also reminds me of folklore’s My Tears Ricochet, largely thought to be about $cott

“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace

And you’re the hero flying around, saving face”

See  how the lines are doing double-duty and addressing more than one person simultaneously?

I take your indiscretions all in good fun

See my analysis of “Illicit Affairs” about how Karlie Kloss was cheating on Jo$h with Taylor as the other woman.

Talking about Karlie in a song mostly about people Taylor looks up to not accepting her sexuality, still works in the song.  Because Taylor seems to have truly loved Karlie, and really invested in their relationship.  To the point that Taylor was participating in behavior she wasn’t entirely comfortable with (being the other woman).  And overlooking behavior in Karlie that she normally wouldn’t put up with (cheating, chasing fame, being thirsty for money).  Taylor changed herself and her morals, to impress and to keep Karlie, who she looked up to as a true soulmate.

I sit and listеn, I polish plates until they gleam and glistеn

I can see how each surface of a disco ball might be referred to as a plate.  Like, a plate of glass.  Tolerate It speaks to how she had to change and hide pieces of herself to keep others happy, and keep them in her life.  She shines up each of those plates to present.  Which references Mirrorball’s sentiment:  Taylor is perpetually putting on a performance only to be met with indifference, or dismay. 

You’re so much older and wiser and I

[Chorus 1]

I wait by the door like I’m just a kid

Here’s the kid line again to denote this person was around during Taylor’s childhood.

Use my best colors for your portrait

Online there was a photographic portrait of $cott Borchetta.  

This line could also harken back to 

“The rest of the world was black and white, But we were in screaming color.” [Out of the Woods, 1989] 

widely thought to be a song about Swift’s (secret) relationship with Karlie Kloss.

Lay the table with the fancy shit

Maybe the table is some kind of professional table for merch or photo-ops.

And watch you tolerate it

If it’s all in my head, tell me now

The line “’Cause I knew everything when I was young” [Cardigan, folklore] has been decoded!  Taylor knew her sexuality when she was young.

Tell me I’ve got it wrong somehow

Remember all those lines from folklore:  “I’m only 17, I don’t know anything” [Betty] “When you are young, they assume you know nothin’” [Cardigan] “?  Now Taylor gives us more context.  It’s so reminiscent of a young LGBT kid being told that their feelings are probably a phase.  A way to invalidate their (divergent) sexual identity..

I know my love should be celebrated

But you tolerate it

[Bridge]

While you were out building other worlds, where was I?

$cott Borchetta used money (some of it from the sale the Taylor’s masters) to buy 5 properties on Music Row in TN according to: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2019/08/22/scott-borchetta-music-row-properties/

Where’s that man who’d throw blankets over my barbed wire?

$cott softened her rough edges, feminized her.  He didn’t want her secret out.  Taylor’s identity was treated as a shame, a dirty secret. Taylor knew her love wasn’t wrong, but yet Scott still tried to stifle this in her.  Despite the pain, she still tries her best to be what he wants, fit into a princess mold, do what she has to (stay closeted and beard/stunt) to make them both successful. This is her dream and she believes him that this is the right thing to do.

I made you my temple, my mural, my sky

Taylor Swift-commissioned “wings” mural being removed from The Gulch

  • WSMV DIGITAL TEAM
  • POSTED MAY 2, 2019

These lyrics are very representative of Lover-era Karlie.

Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life

Taylor wants is her masters, her music, her life story. 

Drawing hearts in the byline

Always taking up too much space or time

You assume I’m fine, but what would you do if I

[Chorus 2]

Break free and leave us in ruins

Taylor left her first label on bitter terms.  

Took this dagger in me and removed it

Threw out our cloaks and our daggers because it’s morning now It’s brighter now, now [Daylight, Lover]

I read “Daylight” and stepping out into the sun and living authentically by coming out of the closet.  It’s interesting the lyric is referenced near the end of a song about hiding your sexuality at the bequest of someone you look(ed) up to.

Gain the weight of you, then lose it

Believe me, I could do it

$cott betrayed her by selling her masters to the man who she cried to him about = $cooter. Taylor put her everything into both career and $cott’s.. She made Big Machine. But instead of acceptance from $cott, she has to constantly defend herself from his attacks on her character and business ethics.

If it’s all in my head, tell me now

Tell me I’ve got it wrong somehow

I know my love should be celebrated

But you tolerate it

We all look up to someone and want to be like them. We change our behavior to make ourselves more likeable for the person we admire because they mean a lot.  

Taylor has hidden 3 different people, not to mention similarities to Charles and Diana and the unspoken relation this track has to Taylor’s fans.  Will her audience embrace her if she shows her true colors?  Or will the audience read this Track 5 song as somebody else’s story in order to straightwash Taylor for their own palatability?

Taylor pours her entire heart into her family, her romance, her career, and primarily her audience–showing them what they want to see (vs what is actually in front of them).  And it’s very meta, and brings us back to 3-5 possible subjects in 1 song to obscure the truth.

[Outro]

I sit and watch you

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