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Riptide

Vance Joy Cover | BBC Live Lounge (2014)

“Riptide” is a song written by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. Taylor performed it during her performance at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. It was released on October 9, 2014.

Background and Release

During an appearance at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge in London, Taylor offered her intimate version of Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy’s signature song “Riptide.” She named the track “one of my favorite songs that has come out all year” before launching into her rendition, in which she stripped the song’s production. While accompanying herself at the piano, she was losing herself in the song’s emotions.

«For me, it was a no-brainer. And I wanted to change up the arrangement a little bit and maybe hear what it would sound like, if a girl sang it.»

Taylor Swift
Taylor’s cover was released on BBCRadio1’s YouTube channel on October 9, 2014 – shortly before her blockbuster album 1989 dropped. Her moving cover instantly ignited the Twittersphere, which sent “Riptide” roaring to No. 1 on the Trending 140 hours after the clip reached YouTube.

Vance Joy had no warning Taylor planned to cover the song. He said: “It showed how talented she was [singing] in that stripped back way.”

Lyrical Theme

Vance Joy described the song as a “stram of conciousness.” According to an interview with American Songwriter, the song remained untouched and unfinished for four years from when Vance started writing it in 2008 until 2012. During long afternoons while his roommate was at work, he would work on it bit by bit. One day after a brief trip to the store, he returned home and played the melody on the ukulele, which he built on to finish the song a few days later.

«It is a weird mish-mash of ideas. Sometimes, you know, I will try to write and stick a bunch of different ideas and images together and it won’t work and I’ll think, 'Oh, that doesn’t sound right,' or, 'It sounds too weird and it all conflicts with each other,' but for some reason that all came together well for 'Riptide,' and when things happen like that it is a bit beyond your control. I had a bunch of different ideas and words, it wasn’t even a general story line like I was referring to an experience or anything. It is more like a stream of consciousness.»

Vance Joy

1989 World Tour Opening Act

Shortly after Taylor’s cover of “Riptide,” she announced “The 1989 World Tour” and that she had handpicked Vance Joy to be her main opening act. He met her beforehand, behind the scenes of the Late Show with David Letterman. In an interview, he said:

«She was lovely. She complimented my music and said she liked 'Riptide.' She said she was excited to have me on tour. It felt very low-key. I might have felt [overwhelmed] if she wasn't so down-to-earth. It really felt so natural. She's at the forefront of all creative decisions [with her music] and that comes through. Her personality is front and centre and that's why her fans are so engaged.»

Vance Joy
He continued: “I’m going to be playing to her crowd. I love the idea of being able to capture some of those people and connect with those people. If you are playing to 70,000 people you give your maximum.”

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I was scared of dentists and the dark
I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations
Oh, all my friends are turning green
You’re the magician’s assistant in their dreams
Oh, and they come unstuck

[Chorus]
Lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I wanna be your left hand man
I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong

[Verse 2]
There’s this movie that I think you’ll like
This guy decides to quit his job and heads to New York City
This cowboy’s running from himself
And she’s been living on the highest shelf
Oh, and they come unstuck

[Chorus]
Lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I wanna be your left hand man
I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong

[Bridge]
I just wanna, I just wanna know
If you’re gonna, if you’re gonna stay
I just gotta, I just gotta know
I can’t have it, I can’t have it any other way

[Verse 3]
I swear she’s destined for the screen
Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you’ve ever seen, oh

[Chorus Variation]
Lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I wanna be your left hand man
I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong

[Final Chorus]
Oh lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I wanna be your left hand man
I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong
I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong

General Information
Associated Era1989 Era
ReleasedOctober 9, 2014
Recorded2014
Written2012
VenueBBC Radio 1 Live Lounge
GenreIndie Folk
Length3:30
SongwriterVance Joy
ProducerBBC Radio
Live Performance