mad woman

folklore (2020)

“mad woman” touches on the feud between Taylor and Scooter Braun who bought Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group in 2019, including the masters of Taylor’s first six albums without telling her anything about it. The track appears on her eighth studio album, “folklore” (2020).

Much like her previous songs “Blank Space” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor connects the concept of a delusional woman to her personal life, particularly her battles with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta over owning her music. She told producer Aaron Dessner in the documentary/concert film “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” what she felt when she first heard the instrumental track:

“[The song has] these ominous strings underneath it and I was like, ‘Oh, this is female rage. I have to figure out how to make this about female rage.’ And then I was thinking the most rage provoking element of being a female is the gaslighting that happens. For centuries, we were just expected to absorb male behavior silently. And oftentimes, when we – in our enlightened and emboldened state – now respond to bad male behavior or somebody just doing something that’s absolutely out of line and we respond, that response is treated like the offense itself. There’s been situations recently with someone who’s very guilty of this in my life and it’s a person who makes me feel (or tries to make me feel) like I’m the offender by having any kind of defense to his offenses. It’s like I have absolutely no right to respond or I’m crazy. I have no right to respond or I’m angry. I have no right to respond or I’m out of line. So [Aaron] providing the musical bed for me to make that point that I’ve been trying so hard to figure out how to make…How do I say why this feels so bad?” — Taylor Swift

MEANING WITHIN THE FOLKLORE UNIVERSE
Some of the story may also originate from Rebekah Harkness, who Taylor based earlier “folklore” track “the last great american dynasty” on. Describing the themes of the whole album in an Instagram post on the 23rd of July 2020, Taylor wrote about, “A misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out,” which might also apply to this song. Producer Aaron Dessner told Vulture:

“That might be the most scathing song on ‘folklore’. It has a darkness that I think is cathartic, sort of witch-hunting and gaslighting and maybe bullying. Sometimes you become the person people try to pin you into a corner to be, which is not really fair. But again, don’t quote me on that [laughs], I just have my own interpretation. It’s one of the biggest releases on the album to me. It has this very sharp tone to it, but sort of in gothic folklore. It’s this record’s goth song.” — Aaron Dessner

“mad woman” debuted at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the chart week of August 8, 2020.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
What did you think I’d say to that?
Does a scorpion sting when fighting back?
They strike to kill, and you know I will
You know I will
What do you sing on your drive home?
Do you see my face in the neighbor’s lawn?
Does she smile?
Or does she mouth, “Fuck you forever”?

[Pre-Chorus]
Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy
What about that?
And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry

[Chorus]
And there’s nothing like a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
No one likes a mad woman
You made her like that
And you’ll poke that bear ’til her claws come out
And you find something to wrap your noose around
And there’s nothing like a mad woman

[Verse 2]
Now I breathe flames each time I talk
My cannons all firin’ at your yacht
They say, “Move on” but you know I won’t
And women like hunting witches too
Doing your dirtiest work for you
It’s obvious that wanting me dead
Has really brought you two together

[Pre-Chorus]
Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy
What about that?
And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry

[Chorus]
And there’s nothing like a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
No one likes a mad woman
You made her like that
And you’ll poke that bear ’til her claws come out
And you find something to wrap your noose around
And there’s nothing like a mad woman

[Bridge]
I’m taking my time, taking my time
‘Cause you took everything from me
Watching you climb, watching you climb
Over people like me
The master of spin has a couple side flings
Good wives always know
She should be mad, should be scathing like me, but

[Outro]
No one likes a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
You made her like that

folklore by Taylor Swift (Republic Records, 2020)
General Information
Albumfolklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020
Recorded2020
StudioKitty Committee Studio
(Los Angeles)
GenreIndie Folk
Length3:57
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Aaron Dessner
ProducerAaron Dessner
Official Lyric Video
Official Audio
Official Live Audio