On 1989’s anniversary, Taylor Swift had a special gift planned for everyone.
The pop superstar offered her own anniversary present in the form of an intimate acoustic performance of the 1989 track “Out of the Woods,” from an appearance at her record-breaking exhibit at the Grammy Museum on Sept. 30.
In the clip, Swift introduces “Woods,” which she co-wrote with Jack Antonoff, with a bit of backstory, revealing that the inspiration for the song stemmed from an uneasy yet significant relationship.
“The number one feeling I felt in the whole relationship was anxiety,” she told the audience in the Clive Davis Theater. “It felt very fragile, it felt very tentative. And it always felt like, ‘OK, what’s the next roadblock?’ What’s the next thing that’s gonna deter this? What’s — how long do we have before this turns into an awful mess and we break up? Is it a month, is it three days?'”
She continued by noting that although the romance wasn’t ideal, it still was an important experience. “I think a lot of relationships can be very solid. That’s what you hope for – solid and healthy, but that’s not always what you get. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not special, and extraordinary just to have a relationship that’s fragile and somehow meaningful in that fragility.”
After her opening, Swift drifts into a soft, tender rendition of the track, complete with self-accompaniment on the piano. The stripped-down take heightens its emotional appeal, as Swift’s vulnerability still captures listeners’ attention, even without the heavy production of its studio recording.
Since Swift first unveiled “Woods” as a promotional release last October, it’s been a monumental year for the Grammy-winner. This week, her 1989 became only one of five albums to spend its first year in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, sparking three No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 along the way. Her success led to a sweep of eight Billboard Music Awards in May, including top artist, top Billboard 200 artist and top Hot 100 artist.