Song of the Day #4,405: ‘Cardigan’ – Taylor Swift

By some cosmic coincidence, I had a Taylor Swift song scheduled yesterday as a Random Weekend selection. It’s a coincidence because, as the world knows by now, Swift dropped a surprise album — folklore — just a day earlier.

The random song was ‘Sad Tragic Beautiful’ from the 2012 album Red, and I did not have kind things to say about it. In fact, I called it her worst song.

Keeping that post up in light of Swift’s new album release felt particularly tone deaf, so I shuffled some things around.

I have not had a chance to spend a lot of time with folklore yet. I haven’t even listened to it all the way through. But from the songs I have sampled, I can tell it is another leap forward in artistry and maturity for an artist who has already more than hit her stride.

I was a big fan of Swift’s last album, Lover, which came out less than a year ago. I named it as her best album in a countdown earlier this year.

Lover worked so well because it fused together Swift’s country and pop styles so well. It was a culmination of everything she had worked on to that point.

One partial listen to folklore reveals it as something altogether different. This album doesn’t sound like anything Swift has released before (the Hunger Games soundtrack cut ‘Safe & Sound’ comes closest). This album has more in common with Lana Del Rey’s work than anything in Swift’s discography.

Some of that is likely due to collaborations with indie artists Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner of The National (as well as frequent partner Jack Antonoff, who produced Del Rey’s magnificent Norman Fucking Rockwell).

But this album’s melancholy elegance is also no doubt a result of the fact that she wrote and recorded the whole thing during coronavirus quarantine, a time that has sent many people into spirals of somber self-reflection.

I’ll have more to write about folklore once I’ve given it a few listens, but for now I’m confident declaring that — unless and until Donald Trump is defeated in November — this album is the best thing delivered by the coronoavirus.

[Verse 1]
Vintage tee, brand new phone
High heels on cobblestones
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
Sequined smile, black lipstick
Sensual politics
When you are young, they assume you know nothing

[Chorus]
But I knew you
Dancin’ in your Levi’s
Drunk under a streetlight, I
I knew you
Hand under my sweatshirt
Baby, kiss it better, I

[Refrain]
And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone’s bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

[Verse 2]
A friend to all is a friend to none
Chase two girls, lose the one
When you are young, they assume you know nothing

[Chorus]
But I knew you
Playing hide-and-seek and
Giving me your weekends, I
I knew you
Your heartbeat on the High Line
Once in twenty lifetimes, I

[Refrain]
And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone’s bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

[Bridge]
To kiss in cars and downtown bars
Was all we needed
You drew stars around my scars
But now I’m bleedin’

[Chorus]
‘Cause I knew you
Steppin’ on the last train
Marked me like a bloodstain, I
I knew you
Tried to change the ending
Peter losing Wendy, I
I knew you
Leavin’ like a father
Running like water, I
And when you are young, they assume you know nothing

[Verse 3]
But I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss
I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs
The smell of smoke would hang around this long
‘Cause I knew everything when I was young
I knew I’d curse you for the longest time
Chasin’ shadows in the grocery line
I knew you’d miss me once the thrill expired
And you’d be standin’ in my front porch light
And I knew you’d come back to me
You’d come back to me
And you’d come back to me
And you’d come back

[Refrain]
And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone’s bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,405: ‘Cardigan’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Glad you shelved the negativity, particularly since Red is a family favorite, though I’m not sure about the song you were going to feature.

    The consensus among our family, and apparently critics and the public alike, is that this surprise release album is great…certainly top tier of Swift albums, and possibly vying for the top spot, though time will tell.

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