willow

Lead Single | evermore (2020)

“willow” is the lead single of “evermore“, Taylor’s second surprise album of 2020 and her ninth record overall. She released the accompanying music video at midnight EST on December 11th, 2020, alongside the “evermore” album.

“willow” was one of the first songs written for the record, shortly after “folklore” was released in July, 2020. Aaron Dessner wrote a musical sketch and named it “Westerly,” after the town in Rhode Island where Taylor owns the house previously occupied by Rebekah Harkness and where her song “the last great american dynasty” takes place. “I didn’t really think she would write something to it — sometimes I’ll name songs after my friends’ hometowns or their babies, just because I write a lot of music and you have to call it something, and then I’ll send it to them,” Dessner said. “But, anyway, I sent it to her, and not long after she wrote ‘willow’ to that song and sent it back.”

Using a metaphor to dub life as a willow tree, “willow” is a love song built around picked guitars, glockenspiel, flute and strings. Taylor compared the song to casting a love spell. She told Zane Lowe in an interview for the 2020 Apple Music Awards:

“I liked opening the album with [willow] because I loved the feeling that I got, immediately upon hearing the instrumental that Aaron created for it. It felt strangely witchy, like somebody making a love potion, dreaming up the person that they want and desire and trying to figure out how to get that person in their life. And all the misdirection, and bait and switch, and complexity that goes into seeing someone, feeling a connection, wanting them and trying to make them a part of your life. It’s tactical at times, it’s confusing at times, it’s up to fate, it’s magical. It felt a bit magical and mysterious, which is what I want people to feel going into an album that was a collection of these stories that were going to take them in all kinds of directions. I just wanted to start them off with a setting of the vibe.” — Taylor Swift

Upon release, “willow” received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its romantic lyricism and laid-back sound.

COMMERCIAL PERFORMACNE
“willow” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, scoring Taylor her seventh number-one single in the US, and making her the first artist in history to debut an album and a single at number one simultaneously at two occasions, previously achieving it with “folklore” and “cardigan” (2020). “willow” was Taylor’s third number-one debut on the Hot 100 after “Shake It Off” (2014) and “cardigan”, and second chart-topper in 2020.

MUSIC VIDEO
An accompanying music video, directed by Taylor, premiered the same day as the song’s release. The video is continuation of the storyline from her preceding video for “cardigan”, and sees a golden string guide her through a mystical saga and lead her to her lover. Taylor added that one scene represents how she feels about fame and that there’s a scene to represent each season throughout the journey of the video.

REMIXES
An electronic “dancing witch” version of “willow”, remixed by Swedish producer Elvira, was released on Taylor’s 31st birthday on December 13, 2020. It was followed by an acoustic “lonely witch” version on December 14, and a synth-driven “moonlit witch” version on December 15. A video for the “lonely witch” version featuring behind-the-scenes pictures from the “willow” music video, and a video for the “dancing witch” version featuring the storyboards from the “willow” music video, were uploaded on Taylor’s YouTube account December 15, 2020.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I’m like the water when your ship rolled in that night
Rough on the surface, but you cut through like a knife
And if it was an open-shut case
I never would’ve known from that look on your face
Lost in your current like a priceless wine

[Chorus]
The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man

[Verse 2]
Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind
Head on the pillow, I could feel you sneakin’ in
As if you were a mythical thing
Like you were a trophy or a champion ring
But there was one prize I’d cheat to win

[Chorus]
The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man

[Bridge]
Life was a willow, and it bent right to your wind
They count me out time and time again
Life was a willow, and it bent right to your wind
But I come back stronger than a ’90s trend

[Verse 3]
Wait for the signal, and I’ll meet you after dark
Show me the places where the others gave you scars
Now this is an open-shut case
I guess I should’a known from the look on your face
Every bait-and-switch was a work of art

[Chorus]
The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man

The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man

[Outro]
Hey, that’s my man
That’s my man
Yeah, that’s my man
Baby, every bait-and-switch was a work of art
That’s my man
Hey, that’s my man
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that’s my man

General Information
Albumevermore
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020
Recorded2020
GenreIndie Folk
Chamber Folk
Length3:34
LabelRepulic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducerAaron Dessner
Single Certification
Cover Artwork
Official Music Video
Official Lyric Video
Official Audio
dancing witch version
lonely witch version
moonlit witch version