Ryan Adams Says Taylor Swift's "White Horse" Gave Him Chills, So Let's Take A Closer Look At The Song
The world is still in full-force obsession mode over Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift's 1989 . The project is like a mini revival of Swift's fifth album, but also keeps her (even more) in the forefront of the news as Adams continues to do interviews about the project. Swift recently told Adams how she writes songs, which is especially relevant given that he just told The Guardian that Swift is like Shakespeare.
However, it's Adams' description of Swift's 2008 Grammy-winning "White Horse" that's truly fascinating. He cited it as the first of her songs that moved him, explaining, "The first time I heard it I got chills head to toe. I remember feeling shocked by her voice, shocked at how clean that song was. I like stuff that sort of penetrates through my regular consciousness and hits me where I’m not looking. That’s usually stuff that’s a little darker.”
Adams elaborated on the track's effect on him, adding, “You know, that song is really about disillusionment on such a grand scale. I just thought about how this is hitting me like a tidal wave, it’s so romantic and so beautiful, and yet so sad and so disillusioned — it’s all the stuff I love about the Smiths. That song f***ed me up and I couldn’t believe it. Her voice does this thing. It just goes through all my bullshit detectors and right into my heart and soul."
That's a pretty impressive statement, especially given that Adams was in his mid-30s when "White Horse" came out. The fact that the music of an 18-year-old rising star could move him on that level is very powerful. So how does "White Horse" hold up to his claims? Let's take a look.
The stripped-down nature of the track lends itself to highlighting what Swift does the best: Conveying emotion. She arguably doesn't have the most powerful voice in the industry, nor does she have the greatest range. But what she lacks in octaves, she makes up for in sheer articulateness. With each syllable, she drives her point home again and again.
Lyrically, the sense of disillusionment is definitely present. "White Horse" might be from the early part of Swift's career, but her signature emotive songwriting is as present as ever. Perhaps one of the most poignant parts is when Swift admits, "I was a dreamer before you went and let me down / Now it's too late for you and your white horse to come around."
I can't speak for how this song affected Adams, but it clearly made a strong enough impression that years later he was still moved by Swift's music. However, if the two Grammys Swift won for the song are any indication, Adams' reaction to the track is pretty on-point.