One of my favorite things about music is its ability to draw you in at moments when you really need it. We truly hear and resonate with lyrics and melodies when we’re feeling a particular way. That’s how I feel when I listen to “Peace.”
The second-to-last track on Taylor Swift’s 2020 Folklore album, these words and melodies are far from new but remain near as cherry blossoms bloom and green returns. Folklore represented a shift in Swift’s sound to a more acoustic, broken-down version of her earlier country and pop albums. “Peace” is one of those songs that leaves me feeling tingly.
I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes me feel the song more than I used to. Maybe it’s because I live in a city and am perpetually surrounded by people and movement. Or maybe it’s the guitar intro, gentle and forthcoming, lingering in my ears and floating to my heart. Like I’m falling in love. And then comes her voice, and I know I am:
“Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly this summer, it’s clear.”
As Swift discusses in the Long Pond Studio Sessions, “Peace” is about the fear of her own fame and how that affects the relationships that she’s had and continues to have. It is that moment of clarity and utter terror combined. How do you love someone when you’re constantly afraid that the love will never be enough to outweigh the bad?
Per usual, Swift uses metaphor and descriptive imagery to put modern poetry to shame: “But I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm. / All these people think love’s for show, but I would die for you in secret.”
These descriptions are not only lyrically beautiful, but they’re pleading. They represent her actions. To know that you love someone so much that you would sacrifice publicly acknowledging that love for the safety of someone else is possibly the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. But it also shows that despite the fire she has for another, she isn’t content and at peace. There will always be a lingering fear of failure, or exposure. How can any of us ever truly give someone peace?
“I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best / But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standing with me.”
Her pleading, dreamlike voice and her lyrics are simply so honest. Swift has always been known for that, but you can see her growth in this album and in this song. It isn’t homecoming dances or being pretty enough for the boy on the football team (though there is equal importance in those tracks that marked our childhood), it’s about building a strong, honest, and communicative relationship.
I think all we can really ask for in our own lives is for someone to give us their best. It’s not sentimental. It’s not cliché. It’s honest. And honesty, to me at least, is the most beautiful thing. Because eventually it sets us free.