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Lead Single | evermore (2020)

“willow” is the opening track and lead single of Taylor’s ninth studio album, evermore. She released the song and its accompanying music video on December 11, 2020, alongside the album. Taylor compared it to casting a love spell.
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“willow” was one of the first songs written for the record, shortly after folklore was released in July 2020. Producer 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.”

Lyrical Theme

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.»

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.

Live Performances

Taylor performed “willow” for the first time at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards as part of a medley with “cardigan” and “august“, in a dreamy cottagecore setting featuring a moss-covered cabin in a forest, accompanied by collaborators Dessner and Jack Antonoff. Taylor also included “willow” on the regular set list of “The Eras Tour” (2023-2024).

Critical Reception

Upon release, “willow” received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its romantic lyricism and laid-back sound. Patrick Ryan of USA Today named the song as a lyrical standout on evermore. In his album review for The New York Times, Jon Pareles complimented the song’s “restlessly intertwined guitar picking” as one of evermore‘s numerous musical flourishes. Variety‘s Chris Willman wrote that the song represents Taylor’s state of mind, and deemed it a cousin to “invisible string” and “peace“, the eleventh and fifteenth tracks on folklore (2020), respectively. Rolling Stone named “willow” one of 2020’s best pop collaborations, praising the pairing between Taylor and producer Aaron Dessner.

Commercial Performance

“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. The hushed, woodsy single grew into a radio success in the spring, ascending to No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Airplay chart in April 2021.


Elvira Anderfjärd is a Swedish producer and songwriter. She is signed with MXM Publishing, the publishing company owned by songwriter savant Max Martin, who co-wrote several songs with Taylor, including “Blank Space” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” While Elvira’s work isn’t focused on remixing, when Taylor’s team called MXM looking for someone to take on the edits, she jumped at the opportunity. “MXM has a long history with team Taylor,” said Johan Malmberg Hector of MXM, “and when they asked if we had any explosive talent for a remix we suggested Elvira and off they went.” Elvira took the stems of “willow” into her Stockholm studio and finessed them into a darkly plucky, pared-down version of the soft folk track. Taylor called it “willow (dancing witch version)” and released the remix on December 13, 2020, her 31st birthday.

The “dancing witch version” was followed by an acoustic “lonely witch” version on December 14, and a synth-driven “moonlit witch” version on December 15, both produced by Aaron Dessner. 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.

When evermore broke the record for biggest vinyl sales in a week in US history, Taylor released the “willow (90’s trend remix)” along with digitally autographed copies of the album for less than 24 hours. Taylor wrote: “You guys went and did the nicest thing this week and broke the record for biggest vinyl sales week.. like ever? NOW WE DAHNCE. The ‘willow (90’s trend remix)’ is a thank you from me, available today only on my site. Put her on repeat for a good time but if you don’t want to have a good time there’s always ‘champagne problems’ & every other song on evermore so you can get deep in your deepest feelings.”


General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020
StudioLong Pond (Hudson Valley, NY)
GenreIndie Folk
Chamber Folk
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducerAaron Dessner
willowchampagne problems
Single Certification
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio
dancing witch version
lonely witch version
moonlit witch version
90's trend remix
songwriting demo