The Lakes by Taylor Swift // Record Store Day 2022 + Folklore Album Anniversary

"the lakes" is the final song on Taylor Swift's groundbreaking 2020 album Folklore, released as a bonus track a few weeks after the album's release. It is a beautiful song that details her daydreams of running away to "the lakes where all the poets went to die". It is written with the backdrop of the poets and artists of the 19th century who moved away to the Lake District in England. 

I have so much vinyl in my collection from the Folklore era and wanted to highlight one of my favorites and one of the rarest I own. It is also the three-year anniversary of the album's release, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share the story behind it. 

It is a 7 inch single, released as an exclusive to indie record stores on Record Store Day in April 2022. Taylor was the first worldwide ambassador for Record Store Day that year, so to celebrate they ended up releasing a couple of special pressings featuring some of her music, one being "the lakes". It is a clear pressing, that has a bit of a yellow undertone to it. It was limited to 10,000 copies worldwide, which sounds like a lot, but it was actually so difficult to get. My dad ended up finding the very last copy at our local record store! I love the alternate artwork on the front and back covers, which are also featured on the center labels. 

She talked about it in detail for the first time on her 2020 Disney+ documentary, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions"I think 'the lakes' sort of sounds like a testament of what I’ve wanted to escape from and where I saw myself escaping. We’d gone to the Lake District in England a couple years ago - In the 19th century, you had a lot of poets, like William Wordsworth and John Keats would spend a lot of time there. There was a poet district, these artists moved there were kind of heckled for it and made fun of for it as being these eccentrics and these kind of odd artists who decided that they just wanted to live there. I remember when we went, I thought, 'Man, I could see this. You live in a cottage and you’ve got wisteria growing up the outside of it. Of course they escaped like that, of course they would do that.' And they had their own community of other artists who had done the same thing." 
All of Folklore and it's sister album Evermore, were completely written during the first few months of the pandemic and so much of these albums were written as a form of escapism, for Taylor and her collaborators, but also for the listeners. "the lakes" is the overarching theme of Folklore for that reason. She sings, "I don't belong and, my beloved, neither do you, those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry, I'm setting off, but not without my muse, no not without you". 

She continued, "In my career, since I was probably about 20, written about this sort of cottage backup plan that I have. 'the lakes' is really talking a lot about relating to people who, hundreds of years ago, had the same exit plan and did it. I went to William Wordsworth’s grave, just sat there and I was like, 'Wow, you went and did it, you just did it. You just went away and you kept writing, but you didn’t subscribe to the things that were killing you.' And that’s really the overarching thing that I felt when I was writing Folklore is, I may not be able to go to the Lakes right now, or to go anywhere, but I’m going there in my head, and this escape plan is working. I thought [this song] would be the perfect way to slot the last puzzle piece in, right when people least expected it."

On side B, an alternate version of the song is featured, titled "the lakes (original version)", which was released a year later in 2021 to celebrate the first anniversary of Folklore. In an interview before this version was released, Jack Antonoff, her co-writer and co-producer of the song, talked about the origins of it and the different iterations it had before the final album version was released. "There was this big orchestral version, and Taylor was like, 'Eh, make it small.' I had gotten lost in the string arrangements and all this stuff, and I took everything out. I was just like, 'Oh, my God!' We were not together because that record was made remotely, but I remember being in the studio alone like, 'Holy shit, this is so perfect,'" he said. 

While there is something so simple and beautiful about the album version, I absolutely love the grandeur within the production of the original version. It complements the poetically vivid lyricism so perfectly. It is so layered in the instrumental, as well as in the vocal harmonies. The chorus is especially stunning. One of my favorite lyrics from the song is "What should be over burrowed under my skin, in heart-stopping waves of hurt, I've come too far to watch some namedropping sleaze, tell me what are my words worth". 

I absolutely love every single song on Folklore and it is an album that means so much to me. You know the greatest films of all time were never made, but the greatest album of all time was made! With every passing year I continue to love this album more and more, which I didn't even think was possible. Out of all the vinyl in my collection, I definitely have more copies of Taylor's music than any other artist, so there will surely be more posts like this to come! I have been collecting for nearly ten years and am looking forward to sharing more of my favorites! 

Thanks for reading! I would love for you to check out some of my other Folklore and Taylor Swift posts linked below! 

All photos are my own!


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