Long Story Short (Taylor Swift song)

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"Long Story Short"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Evermore
WrittenDecember 11, 2020 (2020-12-11)
StudioLong Pond (Hudson Valley)
Producer(s)Aaron Dessner
Lyric video
"Long Story Short" on YouTube

"Long Story Short" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her ninth studio album, Evermore (2020). She wrote the song with its producer, Aaron Dessner. "Long Story Short" is an upbeat song that consists of dynamic programmed and live drums, synths, strings, and guitars; music critics characterize the genre as synth-pop, electropop, folk-pop, and indie rock. The lyrics see Swift reminiscing about a dark part of her past and her contentment with a current state of mind.

Music critics found the upbeat arrangement and dynamic instrumentation of "Long Story Short" refreshing for Evermore's generally soft and relaxed pace. They praised Swift's songwriting and lyrics. The song charted in Australia, Canada, Portugal, and the United States, and it peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Global 200.

Background and release[edit]

Amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, Taylor Swift wrote songs and produced her eighth studio album, Folklore, with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. Surprise-released on July 24, 2020. Folklore incorporated indie folk and alternative rock which were new styles for Swift and garnered widespread critical acclaim.[1]

In September 2020, Swift, Antonoff, and Dessner assembled at Long Pond Studio in upstate New York to film Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, a documentary consisting of stripped-down renditions of tracks from Folklore and recounting the creative process behind the album.[2] After filming, the three celebrated Folklore by drinking and unexpectedly continued writing songs while staying at Long Pond.[3] The result was a studio album, Evermore, which Swift described as a "sister record" to Folklore.[4] Evermore was released on December 11, 2020, nearly six months after Folklore;[5] "Long Story Short" is track number 12.[6]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Swift wrote "Long Story Short" with Dessner, who produced it and recorded the track with Jonathan Low at Long Pond. Low also recorded Swift's vocals and mixed the song. Dessner played keyboards, bass, percussion, acoustic and electric guitars, and programmed drums using a drum machine. James McAlister also programmed the drums and synthesizers, and Bryan Devendorf played live drums. Dessner's brother Bryce played additional electric guitars and was the orchestrator for the violin (played by Yuki Numata Resnick), trumpet (Kyle Resnick), and cello (Clarice Jensen).[7]

The song is a fast-paced[8] and breezy[9] indie rock,[10] folk-pop,[11] electropop,[9] and synth-pop composition,[12][13][14] with a rousing post-chorus hook, explosive guitar chugs, strings,[10][15] crisp beats of both programmed drum machines and live drums, the latter of which was played by Bryan Devendorf of the National.[10][16][17] Alan Light of Esquire said the drums created a "glitchy rhythm track".[18] It also infuses elements of vintage pop.[15] Musically, the song is set in the key of C major with a fast tempo of 158 beats per minute. Swift's vocals span from G3 to G4.[19]

"Long Story Short" generated interpretations as being about Swift's past, including celebrity feuds and controversies during 2017;[15][17][20][21] Swift described it as one of her life's lowest moments.[22][16] The song narrates her personal redemption,[10] while covering her four-year emotional journey between 2016 and 2020,[20] specifically the turbulent events of Swift's professional life in 2016.[23] Its lyrics see Swift announce her peaceful state of mind after spending years of limelight in "petty things" and "nemeses", while recalling her fall from grace after her feuds, and how she eventually sorted her priorities out and found true love.[8] In the post-chorus, Swift states that her past relationships reshaped who she is, and in the bridge, she asserts her lack of interest in celebrity drama anymore, focusing only on her relationship outside of work.[20][24] The song ends with the lyric "I survived."[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Slate critic Carl Wilson wrote that "Long Story Short" is a "fairly slight song but an earned valedictory address", incorporating Swift's standard wordplay and the "pleasure" that "comes in hearing her look back at all that and shrugging".[17] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard chose the song as the best on Evermore and stated that the song materializes Swift's ability to create "deceptively simple" music that "is bursting with layers and moving pieces". He admired the song's "dense but never overcrowded" instrumentation and its "kicky post-chorus vocal hook".[10] Reviewers of Insider concluded that "Long Story Short" is "the closest Swift gets to revisiting her pop star persona"; Callie Ahlgrim said that it is "glossier" compared to its fellow tracks, hybridizing the textures of 1989 (2014) and Folklore, and functions as a "refreshing change of pace" inside Evermore, whereas Courteney Larocca felt that it is a "Lover era message wrapped in 1989 production about overcoming her Reputation mistakes".[15]

Maura Johnston of Entertainment Weekly opined that "Long Story Short" is a glimpse "down the darker alleys branching off memory lane".[22] NME's Hannah Mylrea remarked that the song is layered with a "1989-style gloss", injecting Swift's "folklorian" sound with 1980s-inspired synth-pop. She felt that it "could explode into a banging, stadium-ready chorus if placed into the hands of pop master-producer Max Martin chorus, but instead pull it back at the last minute and favour subtlety".[25] Expressing the same view, The Guardian critic Alexis Petridis thought that "Long Story Short" would "obviously function as a pop banger" if it had been garnished with "EDM synths, Auto-Tune and programmed beats", but deemed the organic arrangement equally tasteful.[26] Variety writer Chris Willman said "Long Story Short" proves that Swift will fully delve into "fiction-writer mode" and will always include "diaristic" moments. He added that the song revives the themes of backlash depicted in Reputation and Lover.[27]

Holly Gleason, reviewing for Hits, branded the song "percolating" and the "closest thing to an actual single" on Evermore.[28] Elle's Alyssa Bailey said that "Long Story Short" is Swift's "most personal, fact-based track on Evermore."[20] Steffanee Wang of Nylon commented that "Long Story Short" is "a sweet and retrospective track that shows just how much growth and distance Swift has achieved since the events that are referenced in the song", and reasoned it with the fact that "she's now 31, and newer, recent battles that have popped up in [Swift's] life have proven that there are more important things to fight for than being on the 'right' side of a tabloid controversy."[29] Craig Jenkins of Vulture thought that the song is a "succinctly" retold "personal mythology" of Swift—"the beloved starlet on the mend from a bad hit to her fame and self-esteem."[30]

Writing for DIY, Ben Tipple remarked that the track "brilliantly" insinuates at a "reinvigorated full-production Taylor".[31] The Quietus critic Katherine Rodgers described "Long Story Short" as a spirited song that retreads Swift's "familiar" lyrical style—"the trials of celebrity, romantic misadventure, falls from grace, all illustrated in quick-fire metaphor". She also admired the "playful, infectious" chorus.[11] Consequence's Mary Siroky opined that the track "may not rise to the top" but compared it to smudges in a set of crystal wine glasses.[32]

Commercial performance[edit]

Following the release of Evermore, "Long Story Short" entered the Billboard Global 200 chart at number 55, alongside Evermore's 14 other tracks, all of which charted in the top 75 of the chart.[33] Similarly, it debuted at number 68 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 dated December 26, 2020, simultaneously with each of the album's other tracks.[34] It opened at number 42 on the Rolling Stone Top 100, with 91,000 units sold and 11 million streams in its first week,[35] and landed at number 14 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, where it spent a total of 10 weeks.[36] The song further entered at number 39 on the Canadian Hot 100 and number 49 on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Evermore.[7]



Certification for "Long Story Short"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[46] Gold 35,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


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Cited literature[edit]