Taylor Swift’s latest album, folklore, features a tribute to health care workers during the pandemic.
The key to folklore’s success lies in the authentic emotions that emerge from each lyric. It is simultaneously a flickering candle upon a rainy windowsill and a collection of lost trinkets hidden amidst the cobwebs of an abandoned memory.
Although songs such as ‘cardigan’ and ‘august’ have headlined, ‘epiphany’ is the underdog of folklore and serves its purpose silently and overlooked, just as medical workers do in society.
Some say folklore, released July 24, is unique to anything Swift has previously written – a new era of Taylor Swift if you will – but if you ask me, the album is just another example of Swift’s timeless ability to intertwine meaningful storytelling with masterful composition.
Swift’s country-pop discography typically covers the demise of her past relationships and often features an elegant clap-back at the haters or a cleverly woven satire on modern times (Alexa, play The Man by Taylor Swift).
The subtle and easily-missed aesthetic of lower-case letters is enough to prove this album will only catapult Swift further in the music industry.
Swift’s newfound love and talent for addressing socio-politics in her music (*’Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ plays casually in the background*) isn’t lost in folklore. ‘epiphany’ parallels the trauma of war medics with the PTSD of current healthcare workers serving on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Much of the song is filled with the eerie silence of a monotonous orchestra, but, perhaps, these long absences of voice are a complex metaphor for the patience and anxiety shared by soldiers and doctors alike.
‘epiphany’ opens with a tribute to Swift’s grandfather, Dean, who fought in World War II. (“Keep your helmet, keep your life, son/ just a flesh wound, here’s your rifle/ crawling up the beaches now/ Sir, I think he’s bleeding out/ and some things you just can’t speak about”).
It then offers a chilling comparison between a bombed and bloodied battlefield and the warlike reality of hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak. (“Something med school did not cover/ someone’s daughter, someone’s mother/ holding hands through plastic now/ Doc, I think she’s crashing out”).
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Swift also alludes to the unfathomable sights witnessed and distress endured by medical workers worldwide. (“Only twenty minutes to sleep/ but you dream of some epiphany/ just one single glimpse of relief/ to make some sense of what you’ve seen”).
However, the most thought-provoking moments of this song are not the subtle contrasts between brotherhood in the military and teamwork in a hospital, but rather the harsh reality of witnessing another person’s untimely death. (“With you I serve, with you I fall down, down/ watch you breathe in, watch you breathing out, out”).
It’s hard to listen without imagining a group of doctors in blue scrubs shouting “code blue” as they race to save a dying patient.
Adjacently, the song perfectly aligns with the tragic scene of a tearful soldier lying heartbroken over a wounded brother in the trenches.
In ten years, when the Scorsese’s and Tarantino’s of the film industry produce a dramatised take on the chaos of 2020, ‘epiphany’ will indeed accompany the acting of one of Hollywood’s finest as the solemn reality of a global pandemic dissolves into the glitz and glamour of cinema.