Taylor Swift Wiki

cardigan is the second track and the lead single of Taylor Swift's eight album folklore. It was released on July 24, 2020, along with the music video.

Meaning and Background

Taylor said the following about the song: “The song is about a lost romance and why young love is often fixed so permanently within our memories. Why it leaves such an indelible mark.”[1]

Cardigan is a follow-up for the song betty. Cardigan is Betty's perspective from 20-30 years later, looking back at her relationship with James. They end up together, but James really put her through it.[2]


Music Video

Taylor wrote and directed the music video herself. She also did her own hair, styling and make-up and wore her own nightgown. She wanted the video to have a clever plot device to also serve as a metaphor. When filming, extensive safety measures where taken because of the pandemic.

The video starts out with Taylor playing piano in a cabin. When she stops playing and opens the piano, she finds golden sparkles. She climbs it and ends up in a beautiful forest. This scene represents the beginning of a relationship where everything is seems beautiful. Here, she starts playing piano again. Now, golden sparkles come from the piano seat, which she also opens and enters it. She ends up in rough waters, and clings to a piano for safety. This scene represents the isolation and fear involved while a relationship is breaking down. She opens the piano, enters it and ends up back in the cabin. It represents returning to a sense of self after experiencing love lost. Here, she finds a cardigan and puts it on.


  • In the cabin, there's a photo of Taylor's grandfather, Archie Dean Swift, who Taylor also sings about in epiphany.
  • The clock in the cabin point to the number's one and three, indicating Taylor's lucky number 13.
  • Taylor painted the painting of a white house, seen next to the piano in the cabin, herself. It's possibly the Holiday House on Rhode Island Taylor owns, as it looks similar.
  • In the video, Taylor clings to a piano as she's in rough waters. This likely references Taylor making music as they only way to survive the public turning are, something she told Vogue in a 2019 interview.
  • Taylor was inspired by period pieces and fantasy films she was watching when planning the video.
  • The song and album were top secret, so Taylor wore an earpiece instead of letting the song play out loud en the album name "folklore" was added to the piano on the day of release.
  • The cardigan Taylor wears in the video is released as merch.


[Verse 1]
Vintage tee, brand new phone
High heels on cobblestones
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
Sequin smile, black lipstick
Sensual politics
When you are young, they assume you know nothing

But I knew you
Dancin' in your Levi's
Drunk under a streetlight, I
I knew you
Hand under my sweatshirt
Baby, kiss it better, I

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone's bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

[Verse 2]
A friend to all is a friend to none
Chase two girls, lose the one
When you are young, they assume you know nothing

But I knew you
Playing hide-and-seek and
Giving me your weekends, I
I knew you
Your heartbeat on the High Line
Once in twenty lifetimes, I

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone's bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

To kiss in cars and downtown bars
Was all we needed
You drew stars around my scars
But now I'm bleedin'

'Cause I knew you
Steppin' on the last train
Marked me like a bloodstain, I
I knew you
Tried to change the ending
Peter losing Wendy, I
I knew you
Leavin' like a father
Running like water, I
And when you are young, they assume you know nothing

[Verse 3]
But I knew you'd linger like a tattoo kiss
I knew you'd haunt all of my what-ifs
The smell of smoke would hang around this long
'Cause I knew everything when I was young
I knew I'd curse you for the longest time
Chasin' shadows in the grocery line
I knew you'd miss me once the thrill expired
And you'd be standin' in my front porch light
And I knew you'd come back to me
You'd come back to me
And you'd come back to me
And you'd come back

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone's bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

Awards & Nominations

Year Organization Award Result
2020 American Music Awards Favorite Music Video Won
MTV Video Music Awards Song of the Summer Nominated
MVPA Awards Best Visual Effects in a Video Pending
UK Music Video Awards Best Visual Effects in a Video Nominated
2021 Grammy Awards Song of the Year Pending
Best Pop Solo Performance Pending



  1. YouTube Q&A - cardigan premiere - Taylor Swift
  2. folklore: the long pond studio sessions - Taylor talks about the teenage love triangle