Yesterday I posted my reactions to all the songs on Taylor Swift’s new evermore album. While putting my thoughts together and reading through all the lyrics to pick out my favourites to include in that post, I started to see repeated metaphors and themes between songs led me a rabbit hole… and it was a good time. So, I’m probably way, way off with this but here is a potential narrative theory that connects half of the songs on evermore. Buckle up and here we go.
Ok, let’s start off with cowboy like me, a love story about two con artists. What if one of the “cowboys” is also the speaker in willow? The lyrics seem to suggest that their lover disrupted their life plans (“wreck my plans”) and there is conning imagery in the song too (“bait-and-switch”, “one prize I’d cheat to win”). If cowboy like me is about how they fell in love in the first place, willow could be one of them describing their love for the other. Whereas their partner, who is a bit more reluctant to totally give into their feelings recounts their different experience of falling in love in gold rush.
However, as time goes on, things don’t go so well. Maybe one of them rejects the other’s marriage proposal, leading to champagne problems or maybe one of them ends up not really feeling the same as the other anymore and starts just tolerating their love. Both of these songs could even fit into the same storyline if the speaker in tolerate it decides to attempt proposing to their partner in order to see once and for all if they really are in love and the speaker in champagne problems describes rejecting this proposal and the guilt that comes with it. I think this is unlikely though, I don’t think these two songs are part of the same narrative but, they could be potentially and honestly, none of this theory is probably right, it’s just for fun!
Then, the rejected proposal and/or one of them feeling as though their love is merely tolerated leads to the breakup where happiness and evermore come in. Each of the partners is represented in these two songs. I know this is a lot but stay with me because I have lyrical evidence!
In willow there’s a reference to a “head on the pillow” and in happiness there’s a “pillow where you used to lay your head”. Also in willow, the speaker refers to themselves as “the water when your ship rolled in that night” but in evermore, the speaker is “shipwrecked” and “unmoored”, suggesting that water actually led them to a painful place i.e. the relationship broke down. Also, the water/ship imagery is explored in gold rush too. Both willow and gold rush feature references to ships on water at the beginning of the songs but in willow, the speaker is comparing themselves to the water whereas in gold rush, the speaker describes their partner being like the water (“Eyes like sinking ships on waters/ So inviting, I almost jump in”). The speaker in willow is more certain of the relationship and the speaker in gold rush is more hesitant, perhaps leading to them not showing their partner how much they care for them. This could make them reject the other’s proposal or make their partner misconstrue their hesitancy for lack of appreciation and lead to them thinking their love is only tolerated.
Hope you’re saying with me on this because believe it or not, I’m not done. So, one of these speakers, the one who ignored their lover in tolerate it, probably the same speaker as evermore, sits alone on a bench in Coney Island, wishing they had treated their ex-lover better. The evidence here is more conning imagery popping up in coney island. Example lyrics for this include: “do you miss the rogue?”, “coaxed you into paradise” and the romanticising of a simple suburban life that two longtime con artists would likely be unfamiliar with: “the mischief, the gift-wrapped suburban dreams/ Sorry for not winning you an arcade ring”. Again, the apology over a ring could tie us back into champagne problems.
So, the speaker of gold rush, possibly champagne problems and coney island is then also the person behind evermore. They are “writing letters” for their ex to apologise and get a sense of closure. However, the speaker of willow and possibly tolerate it and cowboy like me doesn’t want to accept this closure. There’s a direct parallel between lyrics in tolerate it and closure here, in tolerate it, the speaker says “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky/ Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life” and in closure they say “I know I’m just a wrinkle in your new life”. The sense of prolonged hurt and not being ready to forgive is echoed in happiness, “All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness”.
However, I think both evermore and happiness, although very sad songs, end with hopefulness. The pain the speakers are experiencing won’t last forever and they’ll find happiness again, just not with each other.
Finally, to put it all together. I think, and this is just one great big highly unlikely theory (especially as I’m not even getting into the fact that some of these are duets and so possibly have two speakers in them already) that the speakers of these songs are as follows:
willow: speaker 1, likely a young female con artist
gold rush: speaker 2, a slightly older male con artist who is a bit insecure about his lover’s beauty
’tis the damn season: Dorothea in a completely separate storyline
tolerate it: speaker 1 when she realises her partner isn’t treating her with as much love and appreciation as they used to
no body, no crime: completely separate storyline
happiness: speaker 1, post-breakup
dorothea: Dorothea’s home-town lover in a completely separate storyline with ’tis the damn season
coney island: speaker 2 when realises where he went wrong, harking back to how his ex was feeling in tolerate it
ivy: I have no idea, probably completely separate storyline
cowboy like me: speaker 1 but it’s the origin story of speaker 1 and 2’s relationship
long story short: completely separate, personal TS song
marjorie: completely separate, personal TS song
closure: Could be either of the speakers but in my version of events, I’m saying speaker 1
evermore: speaker 2
There we go, that’s my potential theory and dissection of some of Taylor Swift’s beautiful imagery. Let me know what you think about the album in the comments.