Taylor Swift on Making Folklore Album in Isolation: 'Picking Up a Pen Was My Way of Escaping'
Taylor Swift did what she knows best in order to remain centered while self-isolating — make new music.
While bestowing her "surprise" eighth studio album, Folklore, to fans early Friday, the Grammy winner, 30, wrote a personal essay about the project, explaining that the collection of songs is the product of letting her imagination run free as a form of escapism amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"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," Swift wrote. "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."
The singer/songwriter then explained some of the inspirations for the tracks, which include titles like "Illicit Affairs," "Mad Woman," "The Last Great American Dynasty" and "Betty."
Further in the album message, Swift calls out rumors and gossip becoming fact, people she wishes she never knew, and simple visual cues like a spinning disco ball.
"It started with imagery. Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity," she explained of her creative process. "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," she continued. "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."
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Swift said these visions blossomed in her mind, marinating until she was ready to put lyrics and stories to the themes.
"Pretty soon these images in my head grew faces or names and became characters," she wrote. "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," she continued. "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."
The rest of the tracklist is filled out with: "The 1," "Exile," "My Tears Ricochet," "Mirrorball," "Seven," "August," "This Is Me Trying," "Invisible String," "Epiphany," "Peace" and "Hoax." Deluxe copies of Folklore also come with the bonus track "The Lakes."
In her essay, Swift mused about fact versus fiction, reflecting on how folklore — the album's title — is a tale 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 indescribable," she wrote. "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."
Concluding her written essay, Swift called on fans, explaining that "now it's up to you to pass them down."
Announcing the "surprise" album drop earlier on Thursday, Swift explained on Instagram that Folklore was not on her radar until the pandemic happened: "Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise."
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