The Taylor Swift/Dixie Chicks collaboration fans have been salivating over for months is finally out, and “Soon You’ll Get Better” is definitely a powerful song … but maybe not the one you were expecting.
Released Friday (August 23) as part of Swift’s seventh album, Lover, the hotly-anticipated track has driven some of the most breathless speculation about the project. Was Swift ready to embrace her country roots again? Were the Dixie Chicks going pop?
Now we know that the answer is somewhere in the middle. “Soon You’ll Get Better” is a quiet, deeply-moving ode to Swift’s mother, Andrea, who she has revealed is battling cancer for a second time. Written like a heartbroken diary entry in the classic Swiftian fashion, the emotional ballad does feature a rootsy sound built on the Chicks’ combo of acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle — with the band’s Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie McGuire providing supportive background vocals — but it’s not meant to scratch the itch of fans pining for Swift’s early music. With lyrics detailing trips to the doctor and Swift’s reaction to the diagnosis, though, it’s certainly the most organic, personal thing on the album.
“The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair / In doctor’s office lighting, I didn’t tell you I was scared / That was the first time we were there / Holy orange bottles, each night, I pray to you / Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too / And I say to you…
“Ooh-ah / Soon, you’ll get better / Ooh-ah / Soon, you’ll get better / Ooh-ah / You’ll get better soon / ‘Cause you have to,” goes the lump-in-your-throat opening verse and chorus.
Fans invited to preview the album over the summer reported that Swift had to leave the room when “Soon You’ll Get Better” came on, and she wrote about her mother’s diagnosis in an essay for Elle magazine in March.
“[My mom’s cancer has] taught me that there are real problems and then there’s everything else,” she said. “My mom’s cancer is a real problem. I used to be so anxious about daily ups and downs. I give all of my worry, stress, and prayers to real problems now.”
Swift fans first began discussing the possibility of a Dixie Chicks collaboration with the release of Swift’s video for “ME!” (featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco), spotting a portrait of the iconic country trio inside the clip. Swift has been open about the close relationship with her mother throughout her career, and told fans in a recent Youtube Originals livestream the decision to include the tearjerking track on Lover was “a family decision.”
Lover is out now, with 18 fresh tracks in total. Meanwhile, the Dixie Chicks have revealed they are working on a new album with longtime Swift collaborator and producer, Jack Antonoff.