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my tears ricochet

folklore (2020)

According to Taylor, “my tears ricochet” was the first song she wrote for her eighth studio album, folklore (2020). It is the album’s Track Five. Taylor said it tells the story of an embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of affection.

Background and Lyrical Theme

“my tears ricochet” was the first track written for the album, penned by Taylor alone. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in December 2020, Taylor said that, following the sale of her master recordings to Scooter Braun, narratives around divorce had been triggering her, and she incorporated imagery of the end of marriage into “my tears ricochet”, writing the first lines of the song after watching the 2019 film Marriage Story, which tells the story of a divorce.

«I found myself being very triggered by any stories, movies, or narratives revolving around divorce, which felt weird because I haven't experienced it directly. There's no reason it should cause me so much pain, but all of a sudden it felt like something I had been through. I think that happens any time you've been in a 15-year relationship and it ends in a messy, upsetting way. So I wrote 'my tears ricochet' and I was using a lot of imagery that I had conjured up while comparing a relationship ending to when people end an actual marriage. All of a sudden this person that you trusted more than anyone in the world is the person that can hurt you the worst. Then all of a sudden the things that you have been through together, hurt. All of a sudden, the person who was your best friend is now your biggest nemesis, etc. etc. etc.»

Taylor Swift
The lyrics for “my tears ricochet” are a narration by the ghost of a dead woman, which finds its murderer, who she once loved dearly, at its own funeral. This dynamic is a metaphor for Taylor’s feelings of resentment and betrayal towards her former record label Big Machine‘s founder, Scott Borchetta, who sold the masters of her back catalog to Scooter Braun. Details describe her tormentor wearing the deceased’s jewels, and mentionning “stolen lullabies”.

«It’s definitely one of the saddest songs on the album. Picking a ‘Track Five’ is sort of a pressurized decision but I knew from day one this was probably going to be it. It’s a song about karma, about greed, about how somebody could be your best friend and your companion and your most trusted person in your life and then they could go and become your worst enemy who knows how to hurt you because they were once your most trusted person. Writing this song, it kind of occurred to me that in all of the superhero stories the hero’s greatest nemesis is the villain that used to be his best friend. When you think about that, you think about how there’s this beautiful moment in the beginning of a friendship where these people have no idea that one day, they’ll hate each other and try to take each other out. I mean, that’s really sad and terrible.»

Taylor Swift

Production

Producer Jack Antonoff, who has worked with Taylor since 2013 on songs like “Out Of The Woods” and “Cruel Summer,” shared via Twitter that august” and “my tears ricochet” were his favorite things he had done together with Taylor. folklore producer Aaron Dessner told Vulture: “This is one of my absolute favorite songs on the record. I think it’s a brilliant composition, and Taylor’s words, the way her voice sounds and how this song feels, are, to me, one of the critical pieces. It’s lodged in my brain. That’s also very important to Taylor and Jack. It’s like a beacon for this record.”

Critical Reception

Writing for NME, Hannah Mylrea drew comparisons between “my tears ricochet” and “Clean” from Taylor’s album 1989 (2014), remarking that “a megawatt pop song is encased in layered vocals and twinkling music box instrumentals”. Jody Rosen of the Los Angeles Times said in a review that the track built up to “a tumultuous climax”, and that the track was “goth, like Chartres Cathedral is goth”. Billboard‘s Jason Lipshutz wrote that the song “builds into a sorrowful anthem”, and that “a bitter parting becomes a literal death”. Ann Powers of NPR deemed the song “more sophisticated” than Taylor’s previous writing while remaining “classic Taylor Swift”, and stated that she takes an event “specific almost only to her, and opens it up into something universal … because we have all experienced a sense of betrayal and loss of self-ownership.”

Commercial Performance

Driven by folklore‘s release, “my tears ricochet” opened at No. 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100, amongst the album’s 10 tracks to chart inside the top 40 and five to enter the top 20; it charted for two weeks before its exit. The song further reached No. 3 on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. It also reached No. 7 on the Singaporean and Malayasian singles charts, No. 8 on Australia’s ARIA Singles Chart, and No. 14 on the Canadian Hot 100.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
We gather here, we line up, weepin’ in a sunlit room
And if I’m on fire, you’ll be made of ashes, too
Even on my worst day, did I deserve, babe
All the hell you gave me?
‘Cause I loved you, I swear I loved you
‘Til my dying day

[Chorus]
I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace
And you’re the hero flying around, saving face
And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet

[Verse 2]
We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
You know I didn’t want to have to haunt you
But what a ghostly scene
You wear the same jewels that I gave you
As you bury me

[Chorus]
I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace
‘Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave
And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet

[Bridge]
And I can go anywhere I want
Anywhere I want, just not home
And you can aim for my heart, go for blood
But you would still miss me in your bones
And I still talk to you (When I’m screaming at the sky)
And when you can’t sleep at night (You hear my stolen lullabies)

[Chorus]
I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace
And so the battleships will sink beneath the waves
You had to kill me, but it killed you just the same
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
You turned into your worst fears
And you’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain
Crossing out the good years
And you’re cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet

General Information
Albumfolklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020
RecordedMay–July, 2020
StudioKitty Committee (Los Angeles)
Long Pond (Hudson Valley, NY)
GenreArena-Goth
Gospel
Length4:16
LabelRepublic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersJack Antonoff
Joe Alwyn
FOLKLORE CHRONOLOGY
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