While many write off Taylor Swift as a whole due to radio overplayed hits like “Shake It Off,” age and experience has greatly contributed to her writing. I believe that the song “my tears ricochet” from her album Folklore exemplifies this.
At first listen, this song may seem to be another emotional song about a breakup, but if you examine the lyrics closer, it is a much more complex metaphor about death, closure, and unresolved emotions. The song explains that even death doesn’t bring closure.
The song begins, “We gather here, we lineup / weepin’ in a sunlit room.” These lines immediately place the setting of the song at a funeral. The song continues, “‘cause I loved you, I swear I loved you / ‘Til my dying day.” These lines reference the common saying at weddings “til death do us part,” signifying to the listeners that the speaker and the ex were possibly married, or at least very committed to each other at one point.
The chorus begins, “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace.” This is a turning point in the song. This line is telling the audience that the end of their relationship was not pretty, but referencing a previous line, she still loved him “‘til her dying day.” The next line is one of my favorite lines in the song. Swift sings, “and you’re the hero flying around, saving face.” This line is quite ironic because she labels her ex as “the hero,” but also says that instead of saving lives like classic heroes, the speaker is dead and he is busy “saving face,” meaning he is only attempting to save his reputation. She continues and askes, “and if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?” This line is a good representation of human relationships. Even if their romantic relationship ends in chaos and hatred and being told that she was “dead to him,” he still shows up to her wake when she actually dies. This line also confirms the setting of the funeral. The chorus wraps up with “cursing my name, wishing I stayed / look at how my tears ricochet.” Despite being in an unhappy relationship, he is not happy about her death, giving the listeners a sense that the ex is searching for a resolution and closure, which is a very human thing to do. The last line, which also contains the title of the song, is an example of how death is the biggest denier of a resolution, so the ex will never achieve closure. The speaker, even dead, is crying, showing the unresolved emotions remaining after their relationship, and even after her death. The ex is still alive, so his actions can “ricochet” out to affect others.
The next verse begins with a metaphor for relationships: “We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean / Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring.” Humans “gather” relationships for minimal reasons and interactions, or for important life changes, like marriage. The verse ends with “You wear the same jewels that I gave you / As you bury me.” This is another line pointing to the unresolved emotions. If the ex is wearing the jewels that she gave him, are there feelings that remain?
The only line that is different in the next chorus is “‘Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave.” Notice in this line she says “when I’d fight” rather than when we’d fight, explaining that they used to be on the same team.
The bridge delivers multiple powerful lines. Swift sings “and you can aim for my heart, go for blood / But you would still miss me in your bones.” “Aim for my heart” versus “go for blood” is an interesting contrast between a classically romantic phrase and a violent one. Also, “miss me” in the second line is multidimensional. It can mean that even though he aims for her heart, he will physically miss her when he shoots, or it can mean that he will emotionally miss her no matter how violent their end is.
The last two verses contain a lot of poetic meaning. The lines “You had to kill me, but it killed you just the same” and “You turned into your worst fears” show that the end of the relationship and the end of the speaker’s life were not successful at making the ex happy. Overall, the ex begins to spiral and their actions continue to “ricochet.” In the end of the song, Swift writes “and you’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain / crossing out the good years.” These lines just continue to symbolize the lack of closure and remaining unresolved feelings that the ex has for the speaker. The word “drunk” also serves another multidimensional purpose of the ex being physically drunk off of alcohol because he is in pain, but he is also reflecting and creating pain. The line feels as if the ex is losing control, and almost creates the image of a drunk past lover pouring their heart out while “cursing my name, wishing I stayed.”
Overall, this song to me reflects a deeply felt, but troubled relationship and its aftermath. It is almost an ironic viewpoint from the speaker because they are dead, showing that death doesn’t bring closure.