Taylor Swift is a master at songwriting, but “Folklore” took things to a whole different level. The album, which was released in July 2020, features beautiful lyric after beautiful lyric. While some songs aren’t exactly about Swift’s personal life, others are deeply personal. In a November 2020 interview with fellow songwriting legend Paul McCartney for Rolling Stone, the singer opened up about writing “Folklore” and the true meaning behind her song “Peace.”
“When I was making ‘Folklore,’ I went lyrically in a total direction of escapism and romanticism. And I wrote songs imagining I was, like, a pioneer woman in a forbidden love affair,” she said. When McCartney inquired about a line in “Peace,” Swift noted that that song in particular was “actually more rooted in [her] personal life” than other tracks.
“I know you have done a really excellent job of this in your personal life: carving out a human life within a public life, and how scary that can be when you do fall in love and you meet someone, especially if you’ve met someone who has a very grounded, normal way of living,” Swift told McCartney. “I, oftentimes, in my anxieties, can control how I am as a person and how normal I act and rationalize things, but I cannot control if there are 20 photographers outside in the bushes and what they do and if they follow our car and if they interrupt our lives. I can’t control if there’s going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow.”
“Would it be enough if I could never fully achieve the normalcy that we both crave?”
She then offered a glimpse of her relationship with ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, noting that he “absolutely” sympathized and understood the weird line between her personal and public life. “I think that in knowing him and being in the relationship I am in now, I have definitely made decisions that have made my life feel more like a real life and less like just a storyline to be commented on in tabloids,” she said at the time. “Whether that’s deciding where to live, who to hang out with, when to not take a picture — the idea of privacy feels so strange to try to explain, but it’s really just trying to find bits of normalcy. That’s what that song ‘Peace’ is talking about. Like, would it be enough if I could never fully achieve the normalcy that we both crave?”
Knowing that Alwyn and Swift broke up in April adds a new layer of emotion and heartbreak to the song, of course. The pair always tried to maintain a semblance of privacy during their relationship, which Swift detailed in many of her songs throughout the six years that they dated.
“Peace” isn’t the only song on “Folklore” that was inspired by Swift’s personal life. “My Tears Ricochet” may be about Swift’s feud with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, while “Epiphany” references her grandfather, Dean Swift. Watching Swift’s songs as their meanings morph and evolve over the years seems to only make them more powerful, as we’ve seen with each “Taylor’s Version” rerecorded album, and while “Peace” may not be on the Eras Tour set list, it certainly has an extra bittersweet place in Swift’s discography.
Now that you have the full meaning of the song, take another listen to the masterpiece ahead.