During "One World: Together at Home" on Saturday night, Taylor Swift performed a song she had previously promised she would never perform publicly because of its gut-wrenching content. The song — “Soon You’ll Get Better” — pays touching tribute to her mother Andrea.
The track is a deeply emotional look at how Swift and her family have been handling her mom’s cancer diagnosis, something the singer hasn’t been too open about these last few years.
The track took on new meaning during the "One World: Together at Home" concert, held in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Swift, 30, begins the song by recalling their first visit to the doctor’s office. “I didn’t tell you I was scared,” she sings in the lyrics. She praises her mom for making “the best of a bad deal” and admits that she has to “pretend it isn’t real” to get by.
The song, which features Dixie Chicks on background vocals, gets even more gut-wrenching during the bridge, when the singer reveals her fears that she may lose her mother to the disease.
“And I hate to make this all about me/ But who am I supposed to talk to?/ What am I supposed to do?/ If there’s no you,” sings Swift.
When asked during a YouTube Live event ahead of hew new album's release what song was the hardest to write, Swift answered “Soon You’ll Get Better.”
“That was really, really hard to write, and it was also just a family decision whether to even put it on the album,” she said. “I think songs that are really hard for you to write emotionally, maybe they're really hard to write and hard to sing because they're really true.”
“We as a family decided to put this on the album, and it’s something I’m so proud of, but it’s just really hard,” she continued. “I can’t sing it. It’s hard to just emotionally deal with that song.”
Fans have been taking to social media to respond to the track.
“I lost my dad to lung cancer on 5/4/18. Honestly we knew from the start we would lose him. But clinging to false hope was gentler than no hope. ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ is EXACTLY how we felt! Thank you @taylorswift1,” one wrote.
In 2015, Swift first revealed in an emotional Tumblr post that her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“For Christmas this year, I asked my mom that one of her gifts to me be her going to the doctor to get screened for any health issues, just to ease some worries of mine,” she explained in the since deleted post. “She agreed, and went in to get checked.”
“The results came in, and I’m saddened to tell you that my mom has been diagnosed with cancer. I’d like to keep the details of her condition and treatment plans private, but she wanted you to know.”
Then earlier this year, Swift told Elle that her 61-year-old mother is once again facing the disease.
“I’ve had to learn how to handle serious illness in my family. Both of my parents have had cancer, and my mom is now fighting her battle with it again,” she wrote in an essay for the magazine.
“It’s taught me that there are real problems and then there’s everything else,” she continued. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has written a song inspired by her mother. “The Best Day,” a track from her 2008 album, “Fearless,” explores how Swift as a teenager leaned on her mother when she had no one else to count on.
"She would just take me on these adventures and we would drive around and go to towns we'd never seen before," Swift said in 2011 of what inspired the song. "Those adventures and those days of just running away from my problems — you're not supposed to run away from your problems, but when you're 13 and your friends won't talk to you and they move when you sit down at the lunch table, and your mom lets you run from those problems, I think it's a good thing."
"My mom was my escape in a lot of ways."