Death by a Thousand Cuts

Album: Lover (2019)
Charted: 67

Songfacts®:

  • Here, Taylor Swift compares a very devastating breakup to a slow, painful death.

    Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
    Flashbacks waking me up
    I get drunk, but it's not enough
    'Cause the morning comes and you're not my baby


    Death by a thousand cuts was a form of execution used in China for about a thousand years until it was banned in 1905. It was used on prisoners who had committed especially severe crimes; they were slowly put to death by having each of their limbs cut off over an extended period of time. In this song, Swift likens the way her heartbreak affects her entire body and spirit to the slow, excruciating demise.

    My time, my wine, my spirit, my trust
    Tryna find a part of me you didn't take up
    Gave you so much, but it wasn't enough
  • The song wasn't inspired by one of Swift's own public breakups; rather, the pop star penned it after watching a Netflix romantic comedy called Someone Great. The 2019 film tells the story of a couple who end their relationship after nine years.

    "It's a movie about how she has to end this relationship that she didn't want to end because she's still in love with the person but they just grew apart and he's not a jerk," Swift explained on Elvis Duran's morning radio show. "It's just sad because it's just realistic, time passed and now we're different people and that is the most devastating thing."

    After watching the movie, Swift started living out its scenario in her dreams. She decided she wanted to write a breakup song based on the dynamics of the film's characters. Armed with the lyrics, she went into the studio with frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff and together they created the track.
  • Someone Great's director and writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson said the movie never would have existed without Swift's 1989 album. Swift said about their mutual fan club: "I just wrote a song based on something she made, which she made while listening to something I made, which is the most meta thing that's ever happened to me."
  • Hours after Lover's release, Swift performed a small, acoustic set of songs from the album for a SiriusXM Town Hall. She said during he set that her favorite lyric off her new material comes from this track's bridge.

    Our songs, our films, united we stand
    Our country, guess it was a lawless land
    Quiet my fears with the touch of your hand
    Paper cut stings from our paper-thin plans


    Speaking in an interview with Sirius XM, Swift said: "It's like this ranting bridge and basically Jack Antonoff and I love to write ranting bridges. Just call him Jack "Rantanoff." We just rant on bridges. We started doing that on a song called 'Out Of The Woods' a while ago… like you know, a bridge that takes the song up a level. Take it to bridge city and we live there. Not a surprise that my favorite lyric would be from a bridge."

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