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dorothea

evermore (2020)

“dorothea” is the eighth song on Taylor’s ninth alum, evermore (2020), as well as the first song that she wrote for the album. Taylor referred to the titular character as a “girl who left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams.”
The song tells the story set around two fictitious characters of Tupelo, a woman named Dorothea and an unnamed male subject, who were romantically involved in their youth, before the girl fled the town for Los Angeles to pursue her passion; “dorothea” is the man’s ode to the now-famous Hollywood actress, seeing him confess his availability for her and tries to convince her into returning to the simplistic life back hometown. Dorothea does visit the town in her winter break and rekindles the old flame with him, which is narrated by Dorothea herself in the fellow track “’tis the damn season“.

Background and Release

Taylor conceived her eighth studio album, folklore (2020), as a set of mythopoeic visuals in her mind, a result of her imagination “running wild” while isolating herself during the Covid-19 pandemic. She surprised with the album’s announcement on July 23, 2020, and released it the next day. To satiate her craving to explore more of the “folklorian woods” she visualized in her mind, Taylor immediately developed another album as a conclusive counterpart to folklore, titled evermore. “dorothea” was one of the two songs she had written for Big Red Machine, a band consisting of her folklore personnel Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon, the other being “closure“; however, the two songs were eventually included on evermore‘s track-listing, where “dorothea” placed eighth. Identical to folklore‘s launch, Taylor made a surprise announcement of evermore on December 10, 2020, and released it the next day.

Lyrical Theme

Lyrically, “dorothea” and another track from evermore, “’tis the damn season”, together revolve around a fictitional story set in Tupelo, Mississippi. The story consists of two characters, Dorothea and an unnamed male subject, who were high-school lovers in their hometown Tupelo, until Dorothea decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career, breaking up with him, who never wanted to leave the town. The track “dorothea” represents the man’s perspective of his relationship with Dorothea after she becomes famous on television. He narrates his backstories of her, such as a skipped prom and feelings of separation, and attempts to convince Dorothea to return to the simplicity of rural life. The song has been compared to folklore‘s “betty” due to Taylor’s take on male perspectives. “’tis the damn season” is narrated by Dorothea, who expresses her thoughts about him when she returns to Tupelo for winter vacation and reconnects with him.

In an Q&A session, Taylor answered that Dorothea went to the same school as Betty, James, and Inez, the three characters named in “betty”, even though the two storylines do not intersect.

Commercial Performance

Upon evermore‘s release, all of the album’s tracks debuted on both the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs and the all-genre Hot 100 charts; “dorothea” entered at No. 13 on the former, and at No. 67 on the latter. Elsewhere, it further reached No. 47 on Australia’s ARIA Singles Chart and No. 34 on the Canadian Hot 100. “dorothea” also debuted at No. 47 on the Billboard Global 200 chart.

Critical Reception

Brodie Lancaster of The Sydney Morning Herald called “dorothea” a “masterwork of a character study”. Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club wrote that the song is for those “who struggle with feeling left behind by glamorous old friends”. Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis called the song “a particularly luminous tune” that eschews “the old country cliche in which a star tells you their life of fame and luxury is nothing compared to the warm comfort of their old small-town life”, instead has a protagonist look at a now-famous friend and attempt to convince their return to the simpler life. Variety critic Chris Willman described the song’s narrator as “a honey in Tupelo who is telling a childhood friend who moved away and became famous that she’s always welcome back in her hometown”, and praised Taylor’s “empathic wondering”–”how it feels to be at the other end of the telescope”.

Commentators and fans have observed similarities between the character profile of Dorothea and that of American actress and singer Selena Gomez who is one of Taylor’s best friends.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?
When we were younger down in the park
Honey, making a lark of the misery
You got shiny friends since you left town
A tiny screen’s the only place I see you now
And I got nothing but well-wishes for ya

[Pre-Chorus]
Ooh, this place is the same as it ever was
Ooh, but you don’t like it that way

[Chorus]
It’s never too late to come back to my side
The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo
And if you’re ever tired of bеing known for who you know
You know, you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)
Dorothea (Ah-ah)

[Post-Chorus]
Ooh, you’rе a queen sellin’ dreams, sellin’ makeup and magazines
Ooh, from you I’d buy anything

[Verse 2]
Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?
When it was calmer, skipping the prom just to piss off your mom and her pageant schemes
And damn, Dorothea, they all wanna be ya
But are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers? Well…

[Pre-Chorus]
Ooh, I guess I’ll never know
Ooh, and you’ll go on with the show

[Chorus]
But it’s never too late to come back to my side
The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo
And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know
You know, you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)
Dorothea (Ah-ah)

[Outro]
Ooh, ooh
Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh, ooh
Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh
Dorothea (Ah-ah-ah)
Ah-ah
Ooh

General Information
Albumevermore
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020
Recorded2020
StudioLong Pond (Hudson, NY)
GenreAlternative
Country
Length3:46
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducersAaron Dessner
Taylor Swift
EVERMORE CHRONOLOGY
happinessdorotheaconey island
Song Artwork
Lyric Video
Official Audio