Taylor Swift made it clear that not all of the stories on her eighth and ninth albums, Folklore and Evermore, are autobiographical. Instead, she was inspired by stories she’s heard, movies she’s seen and more. Like Folklore, Evermore seems to feature a trilogy of songs that are all part of the same story. In a message to fans, Taylor referred to it as, “The ‘unhappily ever after’ anthology of marriages gone bad that includes infidelity, ambivalent toleration and even murder.”
The three songs that seem to fit this trilogy are “Ivy,” “Tolerate It” and “No Body, No Crime.” In “Ivy,” Taylor sings about a woman who is married, but loves someone else. The lyrics include, “My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand, taking mine but it’s been promised to another,” “What would we do if he found out?” and “He’s gonna burn this house to the ground.” This is the first part of the anthology. Although it doesn’t fit directly with the other two songs, which are clearly related, it tells a similar story of a crumbling marriage.
“Tolerate it” is about a woman putting on a show for her husband, who isn’t treating her the way she knows she deserves to be treated. Rather, he is just ‘tolerating her.’ The woman in the story sets the table perfectly, cleans the house until it’s glistening, and is waiting at home for her husband. However, he’s out seemingly being unfaithful, and in the end, she threatens to leave him. This song is track five on the album, and its followed directly by its sequel, “No Body, No Crime.”
I have no idea what will come next. I have no idea about a lot of things these days and so I’ve clung to the one thing that keeps me connected to you all. That thing always has and always will be music. And may it continue, evermore. evermore is out now: https://t.co/QYMUTL0IAj pic.twitter.com/tlSmahDkBi
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 11, 2020
“No Body, No Crime” is the only song Taylor wrote by herself. In a YouTube chat, she revealed that the song was inspired by her love of true crime podcasts. Taylor uses her friend, Este Haim’s, name as the main character in the story. Este’s character suspects that her husband is cheating in the first verse — the same story in “Tolerate It” — but has no way of proving it. Eventually, Este disappears, and the husband moves in with his mistress. The narrator in the song is convinced that the husband killed Este, but she can’t prove it. Then, in the third verse, the narrator gets her revenge in honor of Este….SHE kills the husband! Luckily, she figured out how to cover up the crime with some skills from her past, and even gave herself an alibi with help from Este’s sister. Plus, the husband’s sister took out a “massive life insurance policy,” so the rest of the town is convinced she did it. But, with no body — there’s no crime….and it remains a mystery.
Two other songs that are connected on the album are “Dorothea” and “‘Tis The Damn Season.” In her message, Taylor wrote, “Dorothea, the girl who left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams — and what happens when she comes back for the holidays and rediscovers an old flame.” On “Dorothea,” Taylor sings from the perspective of a guy who’s missing Dorothea after she leaves down for greener pastures and fame. The lyrics include, “The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo” and “Are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers?”
Meanwhile, “‘Tis The Damn Season” is about Dorothea reconnecting with her former lover while visiting their hometown for the holidays. The lyrics say, “You can call me babe for the weekend” and “It always leads to you in my hometown.” With the holiday season coming up, this one is probably pretty relatable for anyone returning home!
On Evermore, Taylor also collaborated with William Bowery, who co-wrote “Exile” and “Betty” on Folklore, again. Taylor previously revealed that William Bowery is a pseudonym for her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. On this album, he co-wrote “Champagne Problems,” “Evermore” and “Coney Island.”
“Champagne Problems” is the story of “college sweethearts [who] had very different plans for the same night — one to end it and one who brought a ring.” Meanwhile, “Evermore” and “Coney Island” are collaborations with Bon Iver and The National, respectively, which likely came into play because Taylor felt the songs needed a male vocal after hearing Joe sing them (this is exactly what happened with “Exile”). WB also plays piano on “Evermore,” according to the album liners.
Both “Coney Island” and “Evermore” are quite emotional. The former tells the story of a woman reminiscing on a past relationship with a lover who wound up dying. She has regrets about the way things ended and is stuck with those in her mind. “Evermore” closes the album with a heavy message about depression. The narrator is pushed nearly as far as she can go, but is saved by her one true love who makes it all worth it.
Another song on the album is the story of “two young con artists who fall in love while hanging out at fancy resorts trying to score rich romantic beneficiaries.” This one is “Cowboy Like Me,” which features background vocals from a Marcus Mumford. The lyrics include, “Hustling for the good life, never thought I’d meet you here,” and “Telling all the rich folks anything they want to hear.”
One song that seems to definitely be rooted in Taylor’s personal life is “Long Story Short.” The track is about someone choosing a guy out of convenience during a “bad time,” but eventually realizing she should’ve chosen someone else. She winds up with the guy she wishes she chose, and is much happier and at peace in her life. Of course, this is spot-on to what Taylor went through in 2016 when she started dating Tom Hiddleston after her breakup from Calvin Harris and amidst her drama with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (she sang about a similar feeling on Reputation’s “Getaway Car”). However, she met Joe on the same night as Tom (at the Met Gala), and has said that she was attracted to him from that very first night (see: “Gorgeous” and “Dress” on Reputation). Taylor and Joe started dating after her split from Tom, and they’re still together now. “Long Story Short” includes the lyrics “But we live in peace” regarding the narrator’s current relationship, and on folklore, she wrote a song “Peace” about her relationship with Joe, as well.
There’s also a song called “Marjorie,” which is about Taylor’s maternal grandmother of the same name. On the track, she recounts some of the life lessons that her grandmother taught her before her death. She feels such a connection to her still, that it’s almost as if she’s still with her. “[She] still visits me sometimes…if only in my dreams,” Taylor explained in her tweet. Taylor also described the song “Happiness” as “the realization that maybe the only path to healing is to wish happiness on the one that took it away from you.