Song of the Day #4,095: ‘Cornelia Street’ – Taylor Swift

Concluding my countdown of the songs on Taylor Swift’s Lover.

3. ‘False God’ – I wrote a little bit about this one a few weeks ago, calling it my early favorite after a couple of listens to the album. I still love it enough to have it at #3, though the two tracks below have crept their way to the top spots. This is the sexiest song on the album and a whole new sound for Swift that she pulls off beautifully.

2. ‘Death By a Thousand Cuts’ – Swift describes this song as a “sad bop,” and it is definitely that. A breakup song inspired by the NetFlix movie Someone Great, this is just a brilliant piece of pop songwriting. It’s so airy and gentle, but packed with emotion. It manages to rock hard while barely raising its voice — like head-banging into a pillow. I love this one so much.

1. ‘Cornelia Street’ – One of three songs on Lover Swift wrote without a collaborator (the title track and ‘Daylight’ are the others), ‘Cornelia Street’ is a masterpiece about the fear of regret, the power of memories, and the emotional weight we assign to the places we’ve lived. It’s a lovely trip through a particular set of memories, made so much more poignant by their specificity. It’s also one of Swift’s best vocals on the album, especially in the hushed final chorus. A truly excellent song.

There you have it. As with the Tarantino list, I’d love to see your rankings of the songs on Lover in the comments.

[Verse 1]
We were in the backseat
Drunk on something stronger than the drinks in the bar
“I rent a place on Cornelia Street”
I say casually in the car
We were a fresh page on the desk
Filling in the blanks as we go
As if the street lights pointed in an arrow head
Leading us home

And I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
That’s the kinda heartbreak time could never mend
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
And baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name
And baby, I’m so terrified of if you ever walk away
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again

[Verse 2]
Windows flung right open, autumn air
Jacket ’round my shoulders is yours
We bless the rains on Cornelia Street
Memorize the creaks in the floor
Back when we were card sharks, playing games
I thought you were leading me on
I packed my bags, left Cornelia Street
Before you even knew I was gone

But then you called, showed your hand
I turned around before I hit the tunnel
Sat on the roof, you and I

I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
That’s the kinda heartbreak time could never mend
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
And baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name
And baby, I’m so terrified of if you ever walk away
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again

You hold my hand on the street
Walk me back to that apartment
Years ago, we were just inside
Barefoot in the kitchen
Sacred new beginnings
That became my religion, listen

I hope I never lose you
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
Oh, never again
And baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name
And baby, I’m so terrified of if you ever walk away
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again

I don’t wanna lose you (Hope it never ends)
I’d never walk Cornelia Street again
I don’t wanna lose you (Yeah)

“I rent a place on Cornelia Street”
I say casually in the car

7 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,095: ‘Cornelia Street’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’ll leave the rankings to the rest of my family, but thank you for giving me more exposure to the album.

  2. Maddie says:

    I’ve loved reading all of these and it has definitely made me hear the album as a whole in a new light. It took a lot of pondering over, but here’s my ranking with some explanations. I’m happy to answer any further questions.

    18. ME!- I don’t have any active hate for ME!. There’s truly no love lost for any song on this album. We’re defined by what we love!! I think ME! is fun and has a boppy lightheartedness that I’m very occasionally in the mood for. Unfortunately, it suffered from being played to death for the longest amount of time and, yea, is the least unique and lyrically complex song in the bunch. Maybe that’s what made it such a good blank slate to stack full of easter eggs. The trojan horse of Lover.

    17. You Need to Calm Down – An undeniably better-constructed song than ME!, YNTCD suffers in my ranking for some of the same reasons. I’ve just heard it so much already and, although I love where Taylor’s coming from within the song, it feels like she’s trying to create a duality here to relate her haters to people against gay rights (I’m sure there’s crossover). It’s not the most seamless and authentic song on the album, even if I can dance to it with the best of ‘em.

    16. Death By a Thousand Cuts – Okay so here’s the most shocking list difference. Disclaimer, from this song onward, I’m absolutely in love with this album. So ranking these are tricky but I’m kind of deciding based on the songs that get most stuck in my head and I return to most frequently. I do understand why DBATC was higher on your list, but it feels like the least personal song on the album to me because it just isn’t where Taylor’s head is at right now. Even with it being an incredibly constructed bop, I’m always more drawn to the pieces that better reflect her current journey and don’t draw inspiration from a movie that touched her.

    15. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince – This remains my favorite title on the album even if it slips lower on my list for similar reasons to DBATC. I was actually having a trickier time understanding where she was coming from in this song and I really like your angle of her exploring her political stances in the lyrics. It definitely adds a layer that could see this higher in the future. Still, it feels more removed to me than the others, so it’s lower for now.

    14. I Think He Knows – I play this song a ton and it’s in my loud obnoxiously singing category on this album. I have it a bit lower because now I’m considering the emotional value and the lyrics I return to the most. This song just doesn’t have a standout part to me in that way. But it’s fun and sexy and great to sing.

    13. It’s Nice to Have a Friend – This is only lower because it feels so mysterious even though that’s one of the reasons I’m more drawn to it. It’s also a shorter song without a huge standout moment, but I find it to be one of the most different and fascinatingly constructed songs on here. I’m excited to learn more about this one.

    12. Afterglow – A Taylor apology song?? We love to see it. This is another song I really enjoy that doesn’t have a big standout moment for me or a huge amount of specificity… even though the metaphor game here is tight.

    11. The Archer – I think Archer might be even higher if it hadn’t been a single. It benefits from me having the chance to explore is separately but is hurt by it not being an exciting discovery on the album for me to pick out and obsess over. There’s a ton of emotional distress/maturity in these lyrics and I’m here for it.

    10. Lover – See the above for this explanation as well. I absolutely love this song though and I’m so happy to see both this and Archer as singles that are representing Taylor in the greater world. This is the New Years Day/Begin Again vibes in Lover that I’m all in for.

    9. Daylight – This song feels like such a closing note for the album and it works perfectly as one. Have I mentioned how much I love this entire album? There aren’t too many moments that stand out for this song and it isn’t one I belt out, but bringing back the “used to think love would be burning red” from Gyllenhaal days?? *chef kiss

    8. The Man – A bopperooni with a message!! I think this is one Taylor’s needed to get off her chest for a while and this album feels like the right time to do it. I’m all for the callout and fully believe that Taylor would be examined and treated entirely differently if she were a man. It’s fun to be able to be ticked off about it alongside her.

    7. I Forgot That You Existed – There’s no expiration date on dragging Calvin Harris, but this song pops the lid on Taylor ever needing to mention him again. And, in my opinion, it’s one of the most damn fun and brutal songs she’s written. I love it and I live for giggly Taylor. It’s just indifference, baby!!! Go get your London Boy!!!

    6. London Boy – See what I did there? Okay, so this is another purely fun time song and I return to it constantly. Idris kicks us off and it just gets greater from there. People can calm down trying to dissect the bougie London experience. Taylor’s rich and this is her London. Go off. “God, I love the English.”

    5. Soon You’ll Get Better – This is an absolutely heartbreaking and gorgeous song and I can’t listen to it very often because it hurts me. But that’s also a reason for it to be so high up on the list. This is way up there in Taylor’s best-written songs and I’m very glad it’s on Lover even if it’s so tough to hear every time.

    4. Cruel Summer – There’s no song on the album I learned quicker or sing louder than Cruel Summer. It deserved to be a single but maybe I wouldn’t have found such a place for it in my heart if it had been one. Still: “AND HE LOOKED UP GRINNIN’ LIKE A DEVIL!” will be one of my favorite things to shout-sing for a long time to come.

    3. Paper Rings – My immediate and early favorite on the album. The most Maddie™️ song for sure. The elevated Stay, Stay, Stay of Lover. Paper Rings continues to be amazing and I discover a new lyric or choice to love on each listen. It’s great and I would 10/10 marry Taylor with paper rings for writing it.

    2. Cornelia Street – For all the reasons this is the top of your list, it’s at the very top tier of mine. It has everything that makes an MVP Taylor song: the specific lyrics make this rise in the ranks for me. And the circular ending. I’m a sucker for a signature T Swift circular ending. “Sacred new beginnings that became my religion” Hello sweet sweet Begin Again vibes that lead into my fave song on the album…

    1. False God – At first I thought the initial hype on False God was blown out of proportion. But I 180’d on that real hard. Every time I listen to False God, I love it more. It’s the most different song for her on this album but it’s also the most sensual, lyrically interesting and musically daring. Long live Lover.

    • Amy says:

      Maddie, great list. I agree that “Cornelia Street” is reminiscent of the Red album, which is, indeed, a very good thing.

    • Clay says:

      Nice list! I like that we have five of the top six in common… though your ‘Death By a Thousand Cuts’ disrespect hurts! 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    17.You Need to Calm Down
    16.Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
    15.London Boy
    14.It’s Nice to Have a Friend
    13.I Think He Knows
    12.I Forgot that You Existed
    11.The Man
    10.False God
    9.Paper Rings
    8.Cruel Summer
    7.The Archer
    6.Death By a Thousand Cuts
    4.Cornelia Street
    1.Soon You’ll Get Better

    No doubt this list will change over time, but this is what I’m feeling with just the initial familiarity that comes with an album after a dozen or so listens within the first month of its release. Thanks for the deep dive.

    • Clay says:

      Looks like the one thing we all agree on is that the first two singles are album’s worst songs. It’s such a mystery to me why she consistently chooses to lead with the weakest tracks. It must be a strategy.

      Also, I’m still waiting to see your Tarantino list on my Jackie Brown post!

      • Amy says:

        Our top ten are similar. I definitely think she has a strategy for everything she does (see Rolling Stone interview for that discussion, as well), but I’m sure she doesn’t consider these two bad songs. In this cas, as Maddie points out, it has to do with which songs lend themselves to Easter Eggs, to what will make a compelling music video, to reaching out to a new group of fans (through the collaboration with Brandon Urie), to making a blatant switch to being politically outspoken (by releasing Calm Down during Pride month and making the push for the Equality Act), and so on. Some of the strategy is likely purely commercial, while other elements are part of her managing how her support can do the most good (one reason she avoided campaigning for Hillary was a certainty that it would only hurt that campaign).

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