Maybe now Taylor Swift will put the pen down, and Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner can go home. A mere three weeks ago, as she was telling all of us that she had “not a lot going on at the moment,” Taylor, in fact, had a lot going on. A few days later she released the folklore: long pond studio sessions, detailing folklore’s inception and creation, and last night she dropped the surprise sister album, evermore. All of this while building anticipation for the rerecording of her previous catalogue, which she gave everyone a taste of with a Match commercial starring Ryan Reynolds. She’s given fans a treasure trove of new music with two albums in one year, and with that, plenty of questions.
Who is Marjorie?
As Taylor confirmed in a note prior to evermore’s release, “marjorie” refers to her grandmother, who, she says, “still visits me sometimes … if only in my dreams.” She also released a lyric video for the song, which features images and videos of her grandmother Marjorie Finlay, including clips of her playing piano with a young Taylor. A singer herself, Marjorie Finlay had a modest career as an opera singer and was a major influence on Taylor’s musical pursuits. Finlay died in 2003, but as Taylor repeats in the song, “what died didn’t stay dead,” as her inspiration continues in her granddaughter’s life. Clips of Taylor’s grandmother singing can be heard in “marjorie,” where Taylor credits her grandmother on backing vocals.
Who is Dorothea?
“The girl who left her small town to follow her Hollywood dreams,” but you can call her Dorothea. Well, who is she? Really, anyone we want her to be. It could be Taylor, who grew up in West Reading, Pennsylvania, before moving to Nashville and onward. She could be one of the actresses from the many classic films Taylor watched at the beginning of quarantine. She could even be the queer counterpart to Betty from folklore.
How much is “William Bowery,” a.k.a. Joe Alwyn, involved this time?
Joe Alwyn, songwriter and Swift’s longtime boyfriend, returned under the moniker William Bowery to write “champagne problems,” “coney island,” and “evermore” alongside Taylor. He also plays piano on “evermore.” There may be no mystery surrounding who he is this time around, but it’s still sweet, I guess.
How many songs are about Joe?
According to Taylor? None. In her accompanying album notes, she says she dug more into fiction for this album, even more so than on folklore. Calling them “17 tales,” as an artist she continues to tap into narratives more removed from her own life. While she’s credited Alwyn on the album and as a source of inspiration, “champagne problems” is definitely not about their potential engagement. That doesn’t mean we can’t have our theories anyway.
Who’s that singing background on “cowboy like me”?
While the heady and deep voices of Bon Iver and Matt Berninger of The National are featured on evermore, the lighter vocals in “cowboy like me” come from Marcus Mumford, lead member of folk band Mumford & Sons.
Why Olive Garden?
Taylor taps into the long country-music tradition of women murdering their cheating, abusive husbands with “no Body, no Crime,” bringing in the Haim sisters for backup. While the song centers around a fictional woman named Este, Taylor received inspiration from Este Haim for one lyric about Olive Garden. While trying to narrow down a lyric for the track, before any collaboration was mentioned, Taylor asked Este about her favorite chain restaurants. “She chose Olive Garden and a few days later I sent her the song and asked if they would sing on it,” Taylor recently said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “It was an immediate ‘YES.’”
Is Taylor dissing Cats in “evermore”?
While Taylor will probably remain adamant about the fictional nature of “evermore,” there’s one lyric from the title track that has made some folks’ overly twitchy cat ears perk up. The song, which navigates the icy waters of depression and mental illness, has one little line about a “motion capture” that “put me in a bad light.” Cue CGI horrorfest Cats (2019), in which Taylor played the breathy, Macavity-allied Bombalurina. It’s entirely possible that she’s making a reference to one of her only film roles, which happened to be on the sinking ship filled with oversexualized and disturbingly anthropomorphic cats with buttholes … wait, no buttholes?