Taylor Swift’s Cruel Winter: Why ‘Marjorie’ Is Her Heart-Shredding Masterpiece

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Swift took to Instagram yesterday (December 10) to announce the release of her second album of 2020, which she called a “sister record” to ‘Folklore’, which dropped in July.

The singer-songwriter goes deeper than ever in this tribute to her grandmother.

On her second surprise album of the year, Swift pushes the boundaries of her indie reinvention, adding a bit of ‘1989’-era gloss to produce a beacon of hope.Featuring HAIM, Bon Iver, The National and More.

Considering how the world is still reeling from Folklore, topping it with this album is cruel and unusual: the ultimate “You know you won so what’s the point of keeping score?” move. Like its sister album, Evermore is all cathartic beauty, an album full of ghost stories and haunted houses. But the most heartbreaking moment is “Marjorie,” her tribute to her late grandmother. It’s not just the centerpiece of a stunning album. It’s a song that ties up all her favorite obsessions into a story of love, death, and grief. It’s one of the best things she’s ever done. It’s a new peak for her as a story-teller, with the key line, “What died didn’t stay dead.” What a way for Taylor Swift to cap off her amazing year. And what a way to begin her new one.

Related: 173 of Taylor Swift’s Songs Ranked by Rob Sheffield

She wrote “Marjorie” with Dessner, as a tribute to her real-life grandmother Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer who passed away in 2003. When she announced the album this week, Swift called it “one starring my grandmother, Marjorie, who still visits me sometimes…if only in my dreams.” She brings in Finlay’s voice at the end—when she confesses, “If I didn’t know better / I’d think you were singing to me now,” we hear Marjorie’s soprano voi

This is a “sister record” to ‘Folklore’, and there are immediate similarities between the two. Once again, it’s largely produced by Aaron Dessner (he has a production credit on all but one song), who this time around wrangles his bandmates in The National (they are officially featured on ‘Coney Island’ and pop up with instrumental and arrangement credits throughout). Swift’s other ‘Folklore’ collaborators all appear too. While ‘Evermore’ also sees Swift continuing to write stories from a third-person perspective, these two records certainly aren’t twins.

Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at the American Music Awards, but she missed the show for a good reason: She said she’s busy re-recording her songs’ masters after her catalog was sold.

Last year music manager Scooter Braun — who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande — announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, the home to Swift’s first six albums. This month Braun said he has sold the master rights to Swift’s first six albums to an investment company; Swift acknowledged the sale on social media and said she would not work with the new buyers because Braun was still involved.

American Music Awards 2020: The Full Winners List 

 

 

 

 

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