Throwing It Back to Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’, One Jewel at a Time
I have come late to the Taylor Swift party, but thanks to my daughter and niece, it didn’t take long for me to get on board. We saw and loved The Eras Tour movie, although I certainly didn’t recognize all of the songs. But if I watch again, I will know the words to every song in the Folklore set.
On one of the laziest last days of Christmas break, I let my daughter watch the Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions documentary on Disney+, and sitting beside her, I figured I’d only pay attention to some of it. But 10 minutes in, I could not look away. I was completely transfixed by Swift’s confessional, complex songs of loss, love, and longing.
I soon learned that Folklore will likely be remembered as as a cultural artifact of the pandemic era. Swift wrote and recorded the album during the quarantine period and released it that very summer, a bit of a windfall for her fans after some very dark days.
I managed to miss that moment entirely. But after watching the documentary, I have thought of little else. Swift’s songs are tonic. They are triggers. They are golden memories and moments; some are stardust, some I’d rather forget.
Musically, Folklore is a dollop of Mazzy Star with a side dish of the Cranberries. It’s my mother’s Joan Baez record spinning out “Silver Dagger” with scratches and skips. It’s 20-year-old me listening to Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy CD loudly and incessantly for two semesters plus a summer.
I haven’t been this obsessed with an album—trying to parse the meaning of its lyrics, hunting for “easter eggs,” as the Swifties call them—in 25 years.
It’s a headspace I haven’t entered in decades. Everything twinkles, tingles, and aches.
Since my mind is now full of Folklore and is always full of jewelry, I wondered if I could merge the two. What if there were a jewel that embodied the essence of each track on the album? I challenged myself to find out.
Sometimes the answer was in the title or story of the song; other times I consulted the lyrics closely for cues. As I hunted and gathered the jewels, I imagined arranging them in a spiral on a Pendleton blanket, track by track, in order of their appearance, as if they all belonged to one collection.
So what does Folklore look like through the lens of a jewelry writer? If I’ve succeeded, it’s a dusty country-house armoire filled with glinting surfaces, a glittering pastiche of history, memory, love, and loss. Let’s dive in.
But we were something, don’t you think so? / Roaring twenties, tossing pennies in the pool
An art deco necklace perfectly captures the caprice that these lines convey—and the era they allude to.