epiphany

folklore (2020)

“epiphany” describes someone hoping to find peace in their dreams despite living in a world of chaos and violence, specifically in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the prologue for her eighth studio album, “folklore” (2020), Taylor explains that the song also touches on her grandfather’s experience in the military.

“epiphany” is a tribute to all front-line workers which save lives while risking their own like soldiers in a battle. In the documentary/concert film “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” Taylor and Aaron Dessner have a conversation about the song and Taylor describes the thought process she had while writing the lyrics:

“I really felt that there should be a string moment on the album because we were toward the end of it and it was all very piano and acoustic. [Aaron is] so good with string arrangements and Bryce [Dessner] is a genius. I just felt like there should be moment where there’s a song that’s unlike anything I’d done before and that could exercise that muscle that I know [Aaron has]. And when I heard it I remember thinking, ‘Maybe I wanna write a sports story.’ Because I had just watched ‘The Last Dance’ and I was thinking all in terms of sports and winners and underdogs. But actually, what I had been doing really frequently up until that point was I had been doing a lot of research on my grandfather who fought in World War II at Guadalcanal, which was an extremely bloody battle. And he never talked about it. Not with his sons, not with wife. Nobody got to hear about what happened there. So my dad and his brothers did a lot of digging and found out that my granddad was exposed to some of the worst situations you could ever imagine as a human being. So I kind of tried to imagine what would happen in order to make you just never be able to speak about something. And when I was thinking about that I realized that there are people right now taking a twenty minute break in between shifts at a hospital who are having this kind of trauma happen to them right now, that they probably will never wanna speak about. And so I thought that this is an opportunity to maybe tell that story.” — Taylor Swift

Regarding the production of the song, Aaron Dessner said the following:

“For ‘epiphany,’ she did have this idea of a beautiful drone, or a very cinematic sort of widescreen song, where it’s not a lot of accents but more like a sea to bathe in. A stillness, in a sense. I first made this crazy drone which starts the song, and it’s there the whole time. It’s lots of different instruments played and then slowed down and reversed. It created this giant stack of harmony, which is so giant that it was kind of hard to manage, sonically, but it was very beautiful to get lost in. And then I played the piano to it, and it almost felt classical or something, those suspended chords. I think she just heard it, and instantly, this song came to her, which is really an important one. It’s partially the story of her grandfather, who was a soldier, and partially then a story about a nurse in modern times. I don’t know if this is how she did it, but to me, it’s like a nurse, doctor, or medical professional, where med school doesn’t fully prepare you for seeing someone pass away or just the difficult emotional things that you’ll encounter in your job. In the past, heroes were just soldiers. Now they’re also medical professionals. To me, that’s the underlying mission of the song. There are some things that you see that are hard to talk about. You can’t talk about it. You just bear witness to them. But there’s something else incredibly soothing and comforting about this song. To me, it’s this Icelandic kind of feel, almost classical. My brother did really beautiful orchestration of it.” — Aaron Dessner

During “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” Taylor and Aaron Dessner also talked about what working on the album together meant to them:

“I often feel that there have been times in my life where things have fallen apart so methodically and I couldn’t control how things were going wrong and nothing I did stopped it. I just felt like I’d been pushed out a plane and I was scratching on the air on the way down. I just felt like the universe was doing its thing. It was just dismantling my life and there was nothing I could do. And this is a weird situation where – ever since I started making music with [Aaron] – I felt like that was the universe forcing things to fall into place perfectly and there’s nothing I could do. It’s one of those weird things that makes you think about life a lot. This lockdown could’ve been a time where I absolutely lost my mind and instead I think this album was a real floatation device for both of us [Aaron and her].

“epiphany” debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the chart week of August 8, 2020.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Keep your helmet, keep your life, son
Just a flesh wound, here’s your rifle
Crawling up the beaches now
“Sir, I think he’s bleeding out”
And some things you just can’t speak about

[Chorus]
With you I serve, with you I fall down, down
Watch you breathe in, watch you breathing out, out

[Verse 2]
Something med school did not cover
Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother
Holds your hand through plastic now
“Doc, I think she’s crashing out”
And some things you just can’t speak about

[Bridge]
Only twenty minutes to sleep
But you dream of some epiphany
Just one single glimpse of relief
To make some sense of what you’ve seen

[Chorus]
With you I serve, with you I fall down, down
Watch you breathe in, watch you breathing out, out
With you I serve, with you I fall down, down
Watch you breathe in, watch you breathing out, out

[Outro]
Only twenty minutes to sleep
But you dream of some epiphany
Just one single glimpse of relief
To make some sense of what you’ve seen

General Information
Albumfolklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020
Recorded2020
StudioKitty Committee Studio
(Los Angeles)
GenreIndie Folk
Length4:50
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducerAaron Dessner
Archie Dean Swift
Official Lyric Video
Official Audio