The new clip opens with Swift in a cabin, playing a piano as she sings the ballad. The instrument serves as a metaphor for the music and relationship she addresses in the reflective lyrics, which brings her comfort. She crawls atop the piano, which transports her to a lush, fantastical world filled with waterfalls and greenery. But later, when she opens the piano bench and explores what’s inside, she finds herself alone, awash in turbulent waters. Using the piano as a buoy, she finds herself back where she started. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed,” she sings. “You put me on and said I was your favorite.”
In a post about her new album, she discussed the mythical themes that informed Folklore while she wrote it in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around. Sometimes even sung about,” she shared via Twitter. “The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible.”
When Swift announced the video, she noted that the filming of it complied with the necessary COVID-19 health and safety regulations, including a medical inspector overseeing the production and masks worn by the crew. She also did her own hair, make-up and styling.
Swift announced Folklore on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours before its release. In a note posted on Twitter, she revealed that she had written the album as the coronavirus pandemic has caused everyone to self-isolate. The 16-track LP features contributions from Dessner, Bon Iver, William Bowery and frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff. The album follows 2019’s Lover and arrives the same weekend Swift was supposed to kick off the first of two bicoastal Lover Fests in support of her seventh album. Both the Los Angeles and Boston two-day events were postponed due to the pandemic.