Swiftian Storytelling: “Out Of The Woods”

In all honesty, I am not the biggest fan of ‘Shake It Off’, the first single off 1989, . Yes, it’s catchy, and very, very different from her previous musical endeavours, which was a deliberate strategy on Swift’s part but it just didn’t click with me. I found it lazy, generic and boring, and more to the point, I know Taylor can do so much better. ‘All Too Well’ or ‘Dear John’ are just a couple that spring to mind.

So when Swift announced a new song was going to be released this week, I was hoping (hear praying) that ‘Shake It Off’ would be to 1989, like ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ was to Red; a hook to draw in the listener and, that the rest of 1989 would not follow suit.

When ‘Out Of The Woods’ was released at midnight on Monday, I was very much relieved and found myself playing the song over and over, and getting completely lost in the frantic, desperate and panic stricken chorus.


Credit: Taylor Swift (Instagram)

1989 is Swift’s first official pop album, which could make you run for cover but with the release of ‘Out Of The Woods’, it seems storytelling is still the central facet of Taylor Swift’s musical soul.

‘Out Of The Woods’ is right on point in terms of Swiftian storytelling and lyrical honesty. It has the big crescendo, the building vocals and the music being able to match the emotions of song word for word, note for note. The song has a wide sonic sound scape with parts of the track that are reminiscent of good ‘80s pop songs that are still relevant today. It draws the listener in with its’ narrative, and like ‘All Too Well’ creates a world so detailed and emotive that you can actually see yourself in the story.

“Your necklace hanging from my neck/ The night we couldn’t quite forget/ We decided/ To move the furniture so we could dance.”

‘Out Of The Woods’ has been accused of having a repetitive and annoying chorus. Repetitive yes, annoying no! In Swift’s description of the song she says,

“This was a relationship where I was living day-to-day, wondering where it was going; if it was going anywhere; if it was going to end the next day. It never felt like you were standing on solid ground. The feeling brings on excitement but also extreme anxiety, and a frantic feeling of wondering and endless questions. The song sounds exactly like that frantic feeling of anxiety and questioning but also stresses that even if a relationship is breakable and fragile and full of anxiety, it doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, beautiful, exciting or all of things we look for.”

The song definitely does all those things. It mimics the feelings of love moving at a frantic pace with you hoping and praying that both of you will make it through to the end of the day; not even thinking about the next. There is no permanence or stability in this song but that doesn’t take away the feelings of love, beauty or authenticity. The final chorus is particularly frantic and desperate, but ends with the line “Are we in the clear yet, in the clear yet, yet, good!” which matches the feeling of suddenly exhaling and realising that the relationship is still in one piece.

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