13 Things We Learned About Taylor Swift's "Folklore" From "The Long Pond Studio Sessions"

    "It, to me, feels like a completely different experience," Taylor said of writing Folklore.

    On Wednesday, Disney+ released Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, an intimate concert film in which Taylor Swift performs all 17 songs from her eighth album in order for the first time.

    Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

    Throughout the film, we see Taylor connect with cowriters Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner to give some insight into the creative process behind the songs on Folklore, the stories they tell, and the emotions they felt while writing.

    It's safe to say Taylor dropped some unexpected info about Folklore over the course of the film — so let's take a look at some of the most fascinating things we learned...

    1. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Taylor was unable to record in a studio for the first time in her career, so she ended up building a makeshift studio in her bedroom.

    Disney Plus

    2. In Taylor's mind, Betty and James of the Folklore teenage love triangle — "Cardigan," "August," and "Betty" — ultimately ended up together.

    Disney Plus

    "In my head, she ends up with him, but he really put her through it," Taylor explained.

    Going on to talk about the protagonist of "August," she said: "She seems like she's a bad girl, but really she's not a bad girl. She's really a sensitive person who really fell for him, and she was trying to seem cool and seem like she didn't care because that's what girls have to do."

    "The idea that there's some bad villain girl in any situation who takes your man is actually a total myth because that's not usually the case at all," Taylor went on. "Everyone has feelings and wants to be seen and loved."

    3. Taylor admitted she's been wanting to write a song about Rebekah Harkness — the eccentric widow of the heir to an oil fortune, who used to live in Taylor's Rhode Island home — since around 2013.

    Disney Plus

    "I'd never found the right way to do it because there was never a track that felt like it could hold an entire story of somebody's life and move between generations," Taylor explained.

    She likens "The Last Great American Dynasty" to a classic country song that seemingly tells a story about someone else, but it turns out in the end to be a story about the artist themself.

    4. She finally confirmed the identity of her mystery cowriter on "Exile" and "Betty" after months of speculation and theories. Like many fans guessed, it's her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

    Disney Plus

    Taylor explained that Joe "plays piano beautifully" and wrote the piano melody that appears at the opening of "Exile" out of the blue, alongside the lyrics to Bon Iver's first verse.

    As for "Betty," Taylor said she heard him randomly singing the chorus, fully formed, from a different room one day.

    She said: "I came in, and I was like, 'Hey, this could be really weird, and we could hate this, so because we're in quarantine and there's nothing else going on, could we just try to see what it's like if we write this song together?'"

    5. Taylor revealed that she began work on Folklore with "My Tears Ricochet," which she wrote completely alone.

    Disney Plus

    "Picking a track five is a pressurised decision," she said of the song's placement on the album, "but I knew from day one that this was probably going to be it."

    "It's a song about how somebody could be your best friend, and your companion, and your most trusted person in your life, and then they could go and become your worst enemy who knows how to hurt you because they were once your most trusted person," Taylor explained.

    While she's never explicitly confirmed it, many fans believed "My Tears Ricochet" is about the demise of Taylor's working relationship with Scott Borchetta, the founder of her old record label, Big Machine.

    6. She wrote "Mirrorball" after her Lover Fest concerts were indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she felt she still had to do something to entertain people.

    Disney Plus

    The song uses the analogy of a disco ball in the middle of a dancefloor to explore the realities and pressures of fame.

    "We have people like that in society," Taylor said of the disco ball analogy. "They hang there, and every time they break, it entertains us. When you shine a light on them, it's this glittering, fantastic thing, but then a lot of the time when the spotlight isn't on them, they're still there up on a pedestal, but nobody's watching them."

    She explained that while the song is "a metaphor for celebrity," it relates to everyone who feels like they have to be different versions of themselves in different situations and around different people.

    7. Taylor came up with the bridge for "August" on the spot while she was in the middle of recording the song in the vocal booth.

    Disney Plus

    8. She wrote "This Is Me Trying" from the perspective of a person with an addiction or a mental illness.

    Disney Plus

    "I've been thinking about people who, if they're either suffering through mental illness or they're suffering through addiction, they have an everyday struggle," Taylor explained. "No one pats them on the back every day, but every day they are actively fighting something."

    9. Taylor described Folklore as the first album she's ever written where she didn't feel the need to only write about her own experiences, which she found "confining" in the past.

    Disney Plus

    "I think I felt like I needed to do that, and I felt like fans needed to hear a stripped-from-the-headlines account of my life," Taylor said of her past music. "It actually ended up being a bit confining."

    She went on: "I think that's been my favourite thing about this album, is that it's allowed to exist on its own merit without it just being, 'Oh, people are listening to this because it tells them something they could read in a tabloid.'"

    10. She characterised "Mad Woman" as a product of "female rage" in response to the gaslighting that occurs when a woman's reaction to bad behaviour is itself treated as an offence.

    Disney Plus

    "There's been situations with a person who's very guilty of this in my life," Taylor said. "It's a person who tries to make me feel like I'm the offender by having any kind of defence to his offences."

    Fans have speculated the song is about Scooter Braun.

    11. She confirmed that "Epiphany" is about healthcare workers on the front lines treating patients with COVID-19, relating it back to her grandfather's experience in war.

    Disney Plus

    "I had been doing a lot of research on my grandfather, who fought in World War II at Guadalcanal," Taylor explained. "He never talked about it. Not with his sons, not with his wife. Nobody got to hear about what happened there. ... I tried to imagine what would happen in order to make you just never be able to speak about something."

    "I realised that there are people taking a 20-minute break in between shifts at a hospital, who are having this trauma happen to them right now that they will probably never want to speak about," she added.

    12. Taylor believes the album's bonus track, "The Lakes", sums up the overarching message of Folklore, with Jack Antonoff calling it "a sincere statement of hope".

    Disney Plus

    She explained: "It kind of is the overarching theme of the whole album, of trying to escape, having something you want to protect, trying to protect your own sanity, and saying, 'Look, they did this hundreds of years ago. I'm not the first person who's felt this way.'"

    Jack added, "I think the idea of getting away and figuring out how to remove the things that are not working in one's life is the story of this [pandemic]."

    13. And finally: Taylor named her home studio "Kitty Committee Studios," because her cats Benjamin and Olivia were constantly fighting in the background of recordings.

    Disney Plus

    "The cats were going in and out because if I were to close the door on them, they'd meow," Taylor explained. "So they need to be able to be free-range cats."

    "It really was bizarre," she added, "but at the same time, it was my favourite recording experience."

    Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is available to stream now on Disney+.

    Ellie Bate is a celebrity reporter and talent coordinator at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

    Contact Ellie Bate at eleanor.bate@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here