It was less than two weeks ago that Taylor Swift was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live and while her rendition of “Lover” that night was beautiful, just the singer on the piano wailing away like she was in the quiet her own home and not in front of a studio audience and millions watching at home, she double down on that intimate vibe performance for the latest installment of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert where it was just her, her guitar and a piano.
“Wow! This is a lot of people in a tiny office, I love it!” Taylor said when she looked on at the 300 people crammed into the cramped office space. After introducing herself and revealing that the NPR series is one of her “favourite corners of the Internet,” Taylor explained that she wanted to “take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them.” So no backup dancers, just Taylor (and one teeny costume change).
For her first song, “The Man,” Tay explained that over the last 10 years of her life, she had wanted to write a “concise and catchy” song about the “double standard issue in our society” so she imagined what her life would be like if she was a man. She then switched from guitar to the piano and played Lover‘s title track and if you didn’t catch her on SNL, this was the next best thing. Swift admitted to spending “quite a bit of time writing breakup songs, and songs about things not turning out the way you wanted them to, or songs about what you thought would be love and it turned out not to be that at all—just the struggle of life.” She revealed how the lyrics for “Lover” came so easily to her, but there’s one line in it that she’s particularly proud of: “With every guitar string scar on my hand, I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover.”
Swift went on to sing “Death by a Thousand Cuts” inspired not by one of her breakups but, instead, her friends who were going through some heartbreaking times.
Taylor then finished off the set with one of her older, critically-acclaimed songs, which she didn’t think would be a hit.
“There’s one song that I’m particularly proud of because when the Red album came out there was this one song on the album and I’m like, ‘I’m the only one who likes this song this much,’ but it’s only because it happened to me and it’s personal,” she said. “No one else is going to like ‘All Too Well’ as much,'” she said, noting that, funnily enough, it typically ranks as one her most-loved among critics and fans.
Excuse us while we play “the sad song about fall” on repeat.