Taylor Swift’s Evermore as Amalgamation: Willow Analysis

30 Dec

I am immediately relieved to hear the instruments.  It’s automatically more alive and warm than folklore.  I also like when she sings at a higher octave, and the faster cadence of the chorus.

I didn’t really want to write an analysis of this song, because after seeing the video it seemed like Taylor really doubled-down on the boyfriend narrative.  And I honestly don’t think that’s her truth, so the whole thing didn’t interest me.  But I was listening to the song for a different reason today (I’m trying to rank every song in her catalogue) and noticed something about the scars line.  And when I looked at the written lyrics I noticed something…

[Verse 1]

I’m like the water when your ship rolled in that night

Rough on the surface, but you cut through like a knife

Taylor Songs with “knife” in the lyrics:

You, with your words like knives/And swords and weapons that you use against me (Mean)

My castle crumbled overnight/I brought a knife to a gunfight/They took the crown but it’s alright/All the liars are calling me one (Call it What You Want)

So cut the headlights, summer’s a knife/I’m always waiting for you just to cut to the bone (Cruel Summer)

Like the war of words I shouted in my sleep/And you passed right by/I was in the alley, surrounded on all sides/The knife cuts both ways (Long Story Short)

My only one/My smoking gun/My eclipsed sun/This has broken me down/My twisted knife/My sleepless night/My win-less fight (Hoax)

Taylor/the water in this metaphor is rough on the surface.  She’s emotional, and has all this inner turmoil about being who she is vs. keeping up the brand.  But the person she’s talking to in the song cuts through all that and gets to the inner Taylor.  

And I think the Long Story Short lyrics describe how this person passes her by but Taylor’s in this figurative alley surrounded on all sides (by her team, audience, demands, PR–all the people Taylor tries to appease all the time according to “Mirrorball” (folklore)).  The knife cuts both ways tells us listeners that yeah, Taylor’s feelings are hurt (alla Hoax) but also, Taylor is doing her own share of hurting the other person by constantly trying to please all these outside forces that surround her.  

Hoax shares that this person is Taylor’s true love.  But also Taylor’s true love is simultaneously her smoking gun, bc being with HER makes evident Taylor’s sexuality.  Being with “the only one” outs Taylor.  The following line says eclipsed sun.  So Karlie (all things gold and sunshiny) is (temporarily) hidden and gone, bc Taylor chose to appease those surrounding her by continuing to hide who she really is.  But this fight has made Taylor sleepless and ultimately unhappy.  It’s a win-less fight.  Both bc Taylor lost the sun (Karlie) to Jo$h, and because nobody is winning when they’re closeted–even if people believe the straight-boyfriend-narrative.

And if it was an open-shut case

Open-and-shut:  Easily decided or solved because the facts are very clear. 

I never would’ve known from that look on your face

The face Taylor is talking to in the song is full of ambiguity.  If the facts are clear, the look on this person’s face obscures that.  The situation is complicated and confusing.

Lost in your current like a priceless wine

[Chorus]

The more that you say, the less I know

This person is a fancy-talker, using double-speak, or obfuscating what they say.

Wherever you stray, I follow

Definition of stray intransitive verb

: WANDER: such as

A : to wander from company, restraint, or proper limits

B : to roam about without fixed direction or purpose

C : to move in a winding course : MEANDER

D : to move without conscious or intentional effort

E : to become distracted from an argument or train of thought

F : to wander accidentally from a fixed or chosen route

G : ERR, SIN

Stray is deviating from norms.  So Taylor uses a negative word to mean either this person is being intentionally evil (cheating on a husband?) or this person is flaky and wandering away from the target.  But whichever is the case, Taylor wants to go with this person off the beaten path (norms of straight marriage?), away from the target (she’s also rejecting heteronormativity).

I’m begging for you to take my hand

In marriage?

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

When I heard this line before seeing it, I took it as, there’s my man, he’s my man, I love my man kind of stuff.  When I saw how it was written I noticed it’s on the same line.  She doesn’t say, “wreck my plans/that’s my man” as separate thoughts.  She says, “wreck my plans, that’s my man” as in further describing the plans.  I feel the distinction is wreck my plans, [which are] ‘that’s my man’.  Another way of saying it is: Code name “That’s my man” are the plans being described, and the person Taylor is talking to in the song is wrecking the “that’s my man” plan. 

Like the plan is:  Here’s my long term straight relationship, I’m in love with a man.  That narrative is what’s wrecked by this person Taylor is addressing in the song.  She’s not talking to her man or about her man in the song.  [It’s really confusing to write out, I hope you get what I’m trying to put out there, dear reader]

The amalgamation of this song is the “that’s my man” line, which is easily misrepresented as an I love my boyfriend!

[Verse 2]

Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind

Head on the pillow, I could feel you sneakin’ in

Sneaking [ snee-king ]adjective

acting in a furtive or underhand way.

deceitfully underhand, as actions; contemptible.

secret; not generally avowed, as a feeling, notion, suspicion, etc.

“Sneaking isn’t a positive word either.  Taylor is already in bed and this person enters after her.  Why would Joe come in after Taylor has gone to bed?  Is he up to something?  Cheating on her?  I think this part is similar to the story of “Illicit Affairs” (folklore) where the person Taylor wants to be with (Karlie?) is cheating on her husband.  It could mean Karlie is surreptitiously seeing Taylor even though she’s supposed to be in a committed relationship with Jo$h.

As if you were a mythical thing

And it seems like this sneaking person is mythical because they are here, then they disappear.  Also, it’s like a dream (in the sense it’s what Taylor wishes for, and also in a ‘wake up and this person is gone’ way) whenever this person comes around.

Like you were a trophy or a champion ring

This line talks about competition.  Taylor is competing with Jo$h to “win” Karlie.  She talks about trophy, ring, then prize to compare the outcome of beating someone to get something shiny.

And there was one prize I’d cheat to win

And again “cheat” references Illicit Affairs.  Taylor will play dirty and be ‘the other woman’ to beat the competition (Jo$h) and win this prize (Karlie).

[Chorus]

The more that you say, the less I know

Wherever you stray, I follow

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

You know that my train could take you home

I wonder if Taylor is talking to the same person she was talking to in the “Champagne Problems” song?  The one who “booked the night train for a reason” (I think Karlie, but could be Joe).  

One for the money, two for the show/I never was ready so I watch you go/Sometimes you just don’t know the answer/’Til someone’s on their knees and asks you/“She would’ve made such a lovely bride/What a shame she’s fucked in the head,” they said/But you’ll find the real thing instead

Those lyrics talk about Karlie’s two weddings.  And say Taylor was never ready to come out of the closet, so she watched Karlie go back to Jo$h.  Karlie didn’t know who to pick between Jo$h and Taylor, so she was ambivalent about future marriage plans with him.  The person proposing on their knees is jo$h proposing to Karlie!  “But she WOULD have made such a lovely bride” shows neither wedding was legitimate.  And she’s fucked in the head says why–Karlie isn’t into it  bc she loves Taylor.  And now this song confirms, you’ll find the REAL thing instead.  Taylor says MY train could take you HOME.  We know how important home has been to Taylor.  She wants Karlie to come with her.

Anywhere else is hollow

Karlie’s existence with Jo$h is shallow and for all the wrong reasons.  Taylor is offering Karlie substance.

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

Taylor sings to Karlie, I’m begging you to be with ME, wreck my plans [OF] that’s my man [bearding charade].  

[Bridge]

Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind

They count me out time and time again

All the haters hate, no matter what Taylor Swift does.

Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind

A theory is that the word “willow” is derived from a Celtic language, sal meaning ‘near’ and lis meaning ‘water’.  They are used for streambank stabilisation (bioengineering), slope stabilisation, soil erosion control, shelterbelt and windbreak, and wildlife habitat. And Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots may protect the bank against the action of the water. Frequently, the roots are much larger than the stem which grows from them (Wikipedia).

But I come back stronger than a ’90s trend

Taylor is persistent and proves the haters wrong with her successes every time. And also she will be persistent in trying to win Karlie back from Jo$h.

[Verse 3]

Wait for the signal, and I’ll meet you after dark

Show me the places where the others gave you scars

Who has the scars?  You drew stars around my scars says Taylor in “Cardigan” (folklore).  And in “Hoax” (folklore) she sings, “You knew it still hurts underneath my scars/From when they pulled me apart.”  Taylor is the one with the scars.  This other person in the song tells Taylor to wait for the signal and they can meet at night.  And asks Taylor to see where OTHERS gave her scars.

Now this is an open-shut case

I guess I should’ve known from the look on your face

This person (Karlie) looks at Taylor’s face and sees something definitive, there’s no mystery. Taylor is now resolute about being with Karlie despite it being the smoking gun of her sexuality.

Every bait-and-switch was a work of art

“Bait and switch” isn’t a matter of making a mistake or having a change of heart.  It’s intentional manipulation.  Someone makes a promise to do something in order get what s/he wants at that point in time–knowing all the while that s/he will never honor that promise (http://psychotherapist-nyc.blogspot.com/2018/03/bait-and-switch-as-form-of-manipulation.html).  

Sounds to me like Karlie “marrying” Jo$h.  But she really didn’t, or she didn’t do it intending to stay and be faithful to him, bc “she’s fucked in the head” and in love with Taylor.  The work of art will be when Karlie leaves Jo$h and Kaylor is happily together.

[Chorus]

The more that you say, the less I know

Wherever you stray, I follow

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

You know that my train could take you home

Anywhere else is hollow

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

The more that you say, the less I know

Wherever you stray, I follow

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

You know that my train could take you home

Anywhere else is hollow

I’m begging for you to take my hand

Wreck my plans, that’s my man

It’s a happy Kaylor ending.  Karlie left Jo$h on the Taylor train, because it was a marriage for shallow reasons.  And Taylor asks Karlie to be with her, wreck her plan of bearding.  Kaylor shaves the beards and ends up together-yay!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: