Song of the Day #4,270: ‘Death By a Thousand Cuts’ – Taylor Swift

Continuing my ranking of Taylor Swift’s albums…

#1 – Lover – 2019

The more time I’ve spent with Taylor Swift’s 2019 Lover, the clearer it is to me that this is her very best album. That it is also her newest bodes very well for future releases.

Lover was teased as a blend of pre- and post-pop Taylor, and on a surface level it fulfills that promise. Most of it is less overtly poppy than 1989 or Reputation, but the production does have an edge and sheen that wasn’t present in her earlier work.

Indeed, this may be the Goldilocks of Taylor Swift albums, not too much or too little of anything, but just right.

Lover contains a whopping 18 tracks, and my abridged playlist keeps all but two of them (the singles ‘Me!’ and ‘You Need to Calm Down’). Among those 16 songs are some of the finest work of Swift’s career, including ‘False God,’ ‘Lover,’ ‘Cruel Summer,’ ‘Cornelia Street,’ ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ and today’s SOTD.

She has never sounded this confident and mature, and her vocals have never been better. Jack Antonoff shares production credit with Swift on most of these tracks, with sublime results. Antonoff took the reins the same year on Lana Del Rey’s masterpiece Norman Fucking Rockwell, and the two albums provide an excellent showcase of how he’s able to zero in on very different sounds appropriate to each artist.

I started the past two weeks with a post about the documentary Miss Americana, saying it had given me a newfound respect and admiration for Swift as an artist. That’s true, but the table was definitely set by this wonderful album.

OK, Swifties… now it’s your turn. Please share your own ranking of Taylor’s albums in the comments.

[Intro]
My, my, my, my
My, my, my, my

[Chorus]
Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
Flashbacks waking me up
I get drunk, but it’s not enough
’Cause the morning comes and you’re not my baby
I look through the windows of this love
Even though we boarded them up
Chandelier’s still flickering here
’Cause I can’t pretend it’s okay when it’s not
It’s death by a thousand cuts

[Verse 1]
I dress to kill my time, I take the long way home
I ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright
They say, “I don’t know”
And what once was ours is no one’s now
I see you everywhere, the only thing we share
Is this small town
You said it was a great love, one for the ages
But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?

[Chorus]
’Cause saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
Flashbacks waking me up
I get drunk, but it’s not enough
’Cause the morning comes and you’re not my baby
I look through the windows of this love
Even though we boarded them up
Chandelier’s still flickering here
‘Cause I can’t pretend it’s okay when it’s not
It’s death by a thousand cuts

[Bridge]
My heart, my hips, my body, my love
Tryna find a part of me that you didn’t touch
Gave up on me like I was a bad drug
Now I’m searching for signs in a haunted club
Our songs, our films, united we stand
Our country, guess it was a lawless land
Quiet my fears with the touch of your hand
Paper cut stings from our paper-thin plans
My time, my wine, my spirit, my trust
Tryna find a part of me you didn’t take up
Gave you so much, but it wasn’t enough
But I’ll be alright, it’s just a thousand cuts

[Chorus]
I get drunk, but it’s not enough
‘Cause you’re not my baby
I look through the windows of this love
Even though we boarded them up
Chandelier’s still flickering here
‘Cause I can’t pretend it’s okay when it’s not
No, it’s not
It’s death by a thousand cuts (You didn’t touch)

[Post-Chorus]
Tryna find a part of me that you didn’t touch
My body, my love, my trust (It’s death by a thousand cuts)
But it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough, no, no

[Outro]
I take the long way home
I ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright
They say, “I don’t know”

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,270: ‘Death By a Thousand Cuts’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I agree that this album is among Swift’s finest works. I’ll leave the rankings though to the true Swifties in my family.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m glad to see you came around on this album, as it was clear to me from the first listen that she had created something special here. It was disappointing to see the Grammy’s virtually ignore Lover. I’m still working on a more casual version of your quite precise methodology, but based on my reflection over the past week, I’m leaning in this direction:

    7. 1989
    6. Reputation
    5. Taylor Swift
    4. Fearless
    3. Speak Now
    2. Red
    1. Lover

    • Clay says:

      I didn’t have to come around on this album… I knew it was at or very near the top when I first heard it (though the two pre-release singles did not have me excited).

      1989 in last place?? You’re really down on the pop phase! Although with Lover and Red in the top two slots, I guess it’s more accurate to say you’re a fan of the ‘half-pop’ material.

      • Amy says:

        Yup, that’s a fair assessment. I like the Goldilocks Taylor best. 🙂 (also, see my comment yesterday… I like the Jake, Joe, Andrea Swift songs best)… 1989 are prob the Calvin Harris songs (with Reputation being the post CH songs?)

        • Clay says:

          I don’t know where I’d begin to figure out which songs are about which people!

          • Amy says:

            well clearly you can’t call yourself a Swiftie then! ;P
            (You know that “All Too Well” is about Jake? Even Maggie was asked about that song (and the scarf) on The Tonight Show. And “Begin Again” about the brief Kennedy fling, “Getaway Car” about Tom, all the most recent (beginning with the gorgeous “Gorgeous” on Reputation, which is probably my fave song on that album) are about Joe. You know the songs (“Best Day,” “Soon You’ll Get Better”) that are about her mom…. come on, you know!

  3. Amy says:

    https://youtu.be/zAtHxJvSczA poor Maggie 😉 (though it did inspire the best Swift song ever, so there’s that)

  4. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I’m very upset that I’m coming to this Taylor Swift themed party. I was there in the first half when I was with the fam in New Mexico, but I guess in getting back to school I lost my way! Anyway reading over all you’ve said and your justification for all the album placements I largely agree. I think your criteria is a strong one and with that in mind here is my list.

    7. 1989
    6. Fearless
    5. Red
    4. Taylor Swift
    3. Reputation
    2. Speak Now
    1. Lover

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