Safe & Sound

"The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond" | 2011

“Safe & Sound” is a song by Taylor and alternative country duo The Civil Wars, taken from the soundtrack “The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond”. In 2013, it won a GRAMMY award for “Best Song Written For Visual Media.”

“Safe & Sound” was written by Taylor, Joy Williams, John Paul White, and T-Bone Burnett. In summer 2011, Lionsgate required Burnett to record songs for “The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond”, and he subsequently corralled a range of artists, including Taylor, Maroon 5, The Civil Wars, and Arcade Fire.

On a fall night in 2011, Burnett and the production team, as well as Taylor and The Civil Wars, came to Burnett’s house in Los Angeles to write the lyrics. After two hours, the song was finished. Taylor further elaborated:

“The Civil Wars had a show that night in L.A., so they raced right over to T-Bone’s house. There’s so many things he could’ve done production-wise to make that song bigger sonically than it is, but I think that would have possibly been a mistake. For him to have left the song as a lullaby is brilliant.” — Taylor Swift

BACKGROUND AND RELEASE
On December 22, 2011, Taylor posted a portion of the song’s lyrics via her Twitter account and said: “Something I’ve been [very] excited about for a [very] long time is going to be happening very soon.” Four days later, “Safe & Sound” was released to iTunes in the US on December 26, 2011, and was critically lauded, with critics praising Taylor’s breathy vocals, the simplicity of the music, and its lyrics, some citing it as a welcome return to form for her.

CHART PERFORMANCE
During the first week of release, “Safe & Sound” entered the Billboard Hot Digital Songs at No. 19 with 136’000 digital units sold. On the Billboard Hot 100, the single debuted and peaked at No. 30. As of November 2017, the song has sold over 2 million copies in the United States.

MUSIC VIDEO
The song’s music video, which is directed by Philip Andelman, premiered on February 13, 2012 on MTV. It was shot in a cemetery, and features a scene of Taylor sitting atop the graves of a couple who died in 1853. Additionally, Taylor is walking barefoot through a forest in Watertown, Tennessee, wearing a long white gown. Between scenes, The Civil Wars are seen inside a cottage house sitting in front of a fireplace as they sing along to the song. It contains multiple references to “The Hunger Games”, including Taylor finding a mockingjay pin.

LIVE PERFORMANCES
During the Australian leg of the “Speak Now World Tour“, Taylor added “Safe & Sound” to the tour’s setlist. Brittany Cooper of Taste of Country provided a positive feedback to the performance, writing that “[Swift] took the song with a whimsical air and gave it all the mystique you would expect from the haunting ballad.”

CRITICAL RECEPTION
“Safe & Sound” received mainly positive reviews from music critics. Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone gave the song four out of five stars, calling it Taylor’s “prettiest ballad.” In a review of “The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond”, AllMusic‘s Heather Phares picked it as one of the highlights on the soundtrack, calling it “the most crucial” track. Idolator praised Taylor’s “breathiness that sounds more eerie than sweet”, while Jason Lipshutz writing for Billboard commended the “non-Swiftian anthem that embraces the folksiness of the soundtrack” and favored the guest appearance contributed by The Civil Wars.

At the 2012 CMA Awards, “Safe & Sound” was nominated for “Musical Event of the Year”. It also garnered a CMT Music Award nomination for “Collaborative of the Year” in that year. The song was nominated for “Best Original Song” at the 70th Golden Globe Awards in 2013. At the 2013 Grammy Awards, “Safe & Sound” received a nomination for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance”, and won the award for “Best Song Written for Visual Media”.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’ll never let you go
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said don’t leave me here alone
But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight

[Chorus]
Just close your eyes, the sun is going down
You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now
Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound

[Verse 2]
Don’t you dare look out your window, darling everything’s on fire
The war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold onto this lullaby even when the musics gone, gone

[Chorus]
Just close your eyes, the sun is going down
You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now
Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound
Just close your eyes, you’ll be alright
Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound

General Information
ReleasedDecember 26, 2011
Recorded2011
GenreFolk
Alternative Country
Length4:01
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Joy Williams
John Paul White
T-Bone Burnett
ProducerT-Bone Burnett
Single Certification
Alternate Single Cover
Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars (Big Machine Records, 2011)
Most Prestigious Award
Official Music Video
Official Audio
Making of "Safe & Sound"