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'tis the damn season

evermore (2020)

“‘tis the damn season” is the fourth track on Taylor’s ninth album, evermore (2020). It marks the first time that Taylor has cursed in a song title. The song’s lyrics are connected to another track on the album, “dorothea.”
Musically, “’tis the damn season” is a Christmas song that eschews the traditional festive value for a melancholic atmosphere. It gives the perspective of a female narrator named Dorothea who arrives to her hometown in Tupelo, Mississippi, and encounters her former lover, knowing the rekindled relationship will inevitably end. It is a wintry alternative rock song instrumented by an electric guitar riff entwined with minimally programmed drums, accompanied by violins, trombone, and organs. “’tis the damn season” is a counterpart to fellow evermore track “dorothea”, which gives the former lover’s point of view, addressed to the titular character.

Background and Release

On July 24, 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdowns, Taylor surprise-released her eighth studio album, folklore, to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. In September 2020, Taylor and her co-producers and co-writers for the album, Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, assembled at Long Pond Studio, located in a secluded cabin in upstate New York, to film the documentary folklore: the long pond studio sessions. Released to Disney+ and accompanied by a live album released digitally, Taylor performed the stripped-down renditions of all 17 tracks on folklore and recounted the creative process of developing the album. After the filming process, Taylor, Jack Antonoff, and Aaron Dessner celebrated folklore by having a few glasses of wine and ultimately decided to stay in Long Pond and unexpectedly continued writing songs. Taylor wrote “’tis the damn season” in the middle of the night while drunk on the first day of rehearsal. The next day, at approximately 9:00 a.m., she presented the lyrics to Dessner, who recounted the moment in an interview with Billboard: “She showed up and was like, ‘I have to sing you this song,’ and she had written it in the middle of the night. That was definitely another moment [where] my brain exploded, because she sang it to me in my kitchen, and it was just surreal.”

Aaron Dessner wrote the music to “’tis the damn season” several years before evermore and described it as one of his favorite works ever. That’s also why it is his favorite song on the album. He compared the background and writing of the song to that of “peace,” his favorite from folklore:

«'‘tis the damn season' is a really special song to me for a number of reasons. When I wrote the music to it, which was a long time ago, I remember thinking that this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made, even though it’s an incredibly simple musical sketch. But it has this arc to it, and there’s this simplicity in the minimalism of it, and the kind of drum programming in there, and I always loved the tone of that guitar. When Taylor played the track and sang it to me in my kitchen, that was a highlight of this whole time. That track felt like something I have always loved and could have just stayed music, but instead, someone of her incredible storytelling ability and musical ability took it and made something much greater. And it’s something that we can all relate to.»

Aaron Dessner
Before the release of evermore, Taylor teased “’tis the damn season” on December 9, 2020, in an Instagram story in which she posted a photo of herself from an Entertainment Weekly feature with the caption “This outfit really screams ‘TIS THE DAMN SEASON.” On December 10, 2020, she announced that her ninth studio album and folklore‘s sister album, evermore, would come out at midnight and revealed its track listing, where “’tis the damn season” placed fourth.

Lyrics and Theme

Lyrically, “’tis the damn season” is written from the perspective of a woman named Dorothea, a Hollywood actress who returns to her hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to visit her family for Thanksgiving weekend. Dorothea encounters an unnamed former lover and ends up reluctantly engaging in a “fleeting but intimate” relationship with somebody from her youth and ending up in bed together, despite knowing she will inevitably have to abandon their relationship again. Similar to “cardigan“, “august“, and “betty” on folklore, the song is part of a series of songs written from different perspectives of the same romantic relationship; “dorothea”, the eighth track on evermore, is written from the perspective of the unnamed narrator, who is more optimistic towards the possibility of dating Dorothea once again. Dorothea painfully reminisces her luxurious life in Los Angeles, loathing her star-studded life in favor of the comfort of her hometown and the unnamed addressee.

Commercial Performance

Following the release of evermore, on the issue dated December 26, 2020, “’tis the damn season” debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 alongside the album’s 14 other songs; the next week, it dropped to No. 91 then fell off the chart. It debuted at No. 13 on the Rolling Stone Top 100, with 134,000 units sold and 16.2 million streams in its first week. It also debuted at No. 6 on the Hot Alternative Songs chart, where it spent seven weeks. It achieved success internationally, debuting at No. 13 on the Canadian Hot 100, No. 23 on the Billboard Global 200, and No. 24 on the Australian Top 50 Singles chart.

Critical Reception

“’tis the damn season” received widespread critical acclaim for its “rather moving” variation on traditional, more upbeat holiday music. In a review published in Rolling Stone, Brittany Spanos described the song as a “nostalgic gut-punch” and “tautly [capturing] the eerily specific nostalgia and the familiarly messy unraveling that is bound to accompany it.” Spanos praised its “lyrical flourishes” and more awkward, less idealistic narrative that distinguish it from traditional Christmas songs. Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork praised Taylor’s use of her “wordy” and detailed lyricism: “She treats [Aaron] Dessner’s electric guitar framework as an empty diary page, her notes spilling into the margins, using every inch of space he offers to describe the fog on the windshield, the mud on the tires, the parking spot by her old school.” Maura Johnston of Entertainment Weekly chose “’tis the damn season” as a “luminous” example of evermore‘s elevated songwriting and production.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
If I wanted to know who you were hanging with
While I was gone, I would have asked you
It’s the kind of cold, fogs up windshield glass
But I felt it when I passed you
There’s an ache in you, put there by the ache in me
But if it’s all the same to you
It’s the same to me

[Chorus]
So we could call it even
You could call me “babe” for the weekend
​’Tis the damn season, write this down
I’m stayin’ at my parents’ house
And the road not taken looks real good now
And it always leads to you and my hometown

[Verse 2]
I parkеd my car right between the Methodist
And thе school that used to be ours
The holidays linger like bad perfume
You can run, but only so far
I escaped it too, remember how you watched me leave
But if it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me

[Chorus]
We could call it even
You could call me “babe” for the weekend
​’Tis the damn season, write this down
I’m stayin’ at my parents’ house
And the road not taken looks real good now
Time flies, messy as the mud on your truck tires
Now I’m missing your smile, hear me out
We could just ride around
And the road not taken looks real good now
And it always leads to you and my hometown

[Bridge]
Sleep in half the day just for old times’ sake
I won’t ask you to wait if you don’t ask me to stay
So I’ll go back to L.A. and the so-called friends
Who’ll write books about me, if I ever make it
And wonder about the only soul
Who can tell which smiles I’m fakin’
And the heart I know I’m breakin’ is my own
To leave the warmest bed I’ve ever known
We could call it even
Even though I’m leavin’
And I’ll be yours for the weekend
​’Tis the damn season

[Chorus]
We could call it even
You could call me “babe” for the weekend
​’Tis the damn season, write this down
I’m stayin’ at my parents’ house
And the road not taken looks real good now
Time flies, messy as the mud on your truck tires
Now I’m missing your smile, hear me out
We could just ride around
And the road not taken looks real good now
And it always leads to you and my hometown

[Outro]
It always leads to you and my hometown

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Albumevermore
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020
RecordedSeptember 2020
StudioLong Pond (Hudson, New York)
GenreAlternative
Adult Contemporary
Length3:50
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducersAaron Dessner
Taylor Swift
EVERMORE CHRONOLOGY
gold rush’tis the damn seasontolerate it
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Official Audio