The Archer

Album: Lover (2019)
Charted: 43 38
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  • Lyrics
  • Cupid, the ancient god of love, is frequently shown in paintings and sculptures shooting his bow to inspire romantic love. During this delicate, mournful retro ballad Taylor Swift incorporates the romantic archery imagery as she offers a lush, hushed confessional about her relationship insecurities.

    Combat, I'm ready for combat
    I say I don't want that
    But what if I do?
  • Cupid carried two different types of arrows: one causing uncontrollable desire and the other triggering whomever was struck to flee. Here, Swift reflects on her role as both the aggressor and victim in her romances.

    I've been the archer, I've been the prey
    Screaming, who could ever leave me, darling
    But who could stay?


    Failed relationships is familiar thematic territory for Swift; the songstress has written about instances when she's the one who inflicted the emotional pain in tracks like "Back To December," when she messed up her romance with Taylor Lautner. Other times, she's recounted her own heartache, like in "White Horse" when she recalls how her boyfriend "went and let me down."
  • During the pre-chorus, Swift interpolates the classic fairy tale Humpty Dumpty.

    All the king's horses, all the king's men
    Couldn't put me together again
    'Cause all of my enemies started out friends
    Help me hold on to you


    Swift's heart has been devastated in the past, which has her feeling vulnerable in relationships. The emotional walls she's erected have left her insecure and caused problems in her romances. Here, she beseeches her lover to help her "hold on" to him.
  • In her livestream announcing the song, Swift acknowledged her tradition of placing the most "honest, emotional, vulnerable, and personal" songs as Track 5 on her albums. Previous Track 5's have been "Cold As You," "White Horse," "Back To December," "All Too Well," "All You Had To Do Was Stay," and "Delicate."

    One song is especially similar; as well as sharing lyrical likenesses, "The Archer" has the same slow and dreamy minimalist vibe as "All Too Well."
  • The song begins and ends with the same line:

    Combat, I'm ready for combat

    On the intro, Swift is tentative, but on the outro she is more ready to fight for this relationship.
  • The song was co-produced and co-written by Swift's frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff in California. It came together in just a couple of hours. Antonoff explained on Twitter the pair decided to keep the tune's 1980s-inspired instrumentals very simple in order to highlight everything Swift is saying in the lyrics.
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