coney island

Single | Featuring The National | evermore (2020)

“coney island” marks Taylor’s first collaboration with The National after working heavily with band member Aaron Dessner on both the writing and production of her two “sister albums”, “folklore” (July 2020) and “evermore” (December 2020).

Like much of The National’s extensive catalogue, the track is subdued and melancholic sonically. Through the use of back-and-forth conversational lyrics littered with imagery that is rich with bygone experiences, it evokes a heavy feeling of loss and nostalgia for a past relationship where effort was not equal from both sides. Taylor explained the song as follows:

“Aaron Dessner had sent me this track he had created with his brother Bryce and I wrote the lyrics and the melody with William Bowery [Joe Alwyn]. I think I might have been coming from a place of somebody who’s been in a relationship for decades and wakes up one day and realizes that they’ve taken their partner completely for granted. So whether you want to look at it from the perspective of somebody who’s in a new or a very longstanding relationship, it just really speaks to if two people are trying to communicate but they’re two ships passing in the night. They’re trying to love each other but the signals are somehow missing each other. I just found that interesting and we’re really proud of this one. There were elements of it that immediately reminded me of Matt Berninger’s vocal stylings and his writing and I targeted some of the lyrics of the second verse to sound like what he might do. I hoped that he might want to sing on it because we already had two members of The National on the song with Aaron and Bryce. So we got our wish and Matt sang on this song. He did such a great job, I’m a huge fan of the band and really honored that this was able to come together with The National.” — Taylor Swift

Producer Aaron Dessner told Rolling Stone in December, 2020:

“I had been working on a bunch of music with my brother [Bryce Dessner], some of which we were sending to Taylor also. At that stage, ‘coney island’ was all the music except the drums. And as I was writing it, I don’t think I was ever thinking, ‘This sounds like the National or this sounds like Big Red Machine or this sounds like something totally different.’ But Taylor and William Bowery [Joe Alwyn] wrote this incredible song, and we first recorded it with just her vocals. It has this really beautiful arc to the story, and I think it’s one of the strongest, lyrically and musically. But listening to the words, we all collectively realized that this does feel like the most related to the National — it almost feels like a story Matt [Berninger] might tell, or I could hear Bryan [Devendorf] playing the drum part. So we started talking about how it would be cool to get the band, and I called Matt and he was excited for it. We got Bryan to play drums and we got Scott [Devendorf] to play bass and a pocket piano, and Bryce helped produce it. It’s weird, because it does really feel like Taylor, obviously, since she and William Bowery wrote all the words, but it also feels like a National song in a good way. I love how Matt and Taylor sound together.” –Aaron Dessner

The lyrics contrast with the title location itself – Coney Island – a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York that is famous as a tourist destination for its lively carnival park setting. Additionally, the community district is Brooklyn 13, a number that is particularly special to Taylor.

Lyrics

[Verse 1: Taylor Swift]
Break my soul in two looking for you
But you’re right here
If I can’t relate to you anymore
Then who am I related to?
And if this is the long haul
How’d we get here so soon?
Did I close my fist around something delicate?
Did I shatter you?

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift]
And I’m sitting on a bench in Coney Island
Wondering where did my baby go?
The fast times, the bright lights, the merry go
Sorry for not making you my centerfold

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
Over and over
Lost again with no surprises
Disappointments, close your eyes
And it gets colder and colder
When the sun goes down

[Verse 2: Matt Berninger, Matt Berninger & Taylor Swift]
The question pounds my head
What’s a lifetime of achievement
If I pushed you to the edge?
But you were too polite to leave me
And do you miss the rogue
Who coaxed you into paradise and left you there?
Will you forgive my soul
When you’re too wise to trust me and too old to care?

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift & Matt Berninger]
‘Cause we were like the mall before the internet
It was the one place to be
The mischief, the gift-wrapped suburban dreams
Sorry for not winning you an arcade ring

[Chorus: Taylor Swift & Matt Berninger]
Over and over
Lost again with no surprises
Disappointments, close your eyes
And it gets colder and colder
When the sun goes down

[Bridge: Taylor Swift, Matt Berninger, Both]
Were you waiting at our old spot
In the tree line
By the gold clock
Did I leave you hanging every single day?
Were you standing in the hallway
With a big cake, happy birthday
Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest grey
A universe away
And when I got into the accident
The sight that flashed before me was your face
But when I walked up to the podium I think that I forgot to say your name

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift & Matt Berninger]
I’m on a bench in Coney Island
Wondering where did my baby go
The fast times, the bright lights, the merry go
Sorry for not making you my centerfold

[Chorus: Taylor Swift & Matt Berninger]
Over and over
Lost again with no surprises
Disappointments, close your eyes
And it gets colder and colder
When the sun goes down

[Outro: Taylor Swift & Matt Berninger]
When the sun goes down
The sight that flashed before me was your face
When the sun goes down
But I think that I forgot to say your name
Over and over
Sorry for not making you my, making you my
Making you my centerfold

coney island by Taylor Swift (evermore)
General Information
Albumevermore
FeatureThe National
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020
Recorded2020
StudiosLong Pond (Hudson, NY)
Scarlet Pimpernel (UK)
GenreAlternative
Length4:35
LabelRepulic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
William Bowery (Joe Alwyn)
Aaron Dessner
Bryce Dessner
ProducersAaron Dessner
Bryce Dessner
Official Lyric Video
Official Audio