*I wrote this and finalized it in April 2022 / Some of my thoughts and opinions have changed
Forewarning: I have spent, no joke, six to seven months writing this piece of babble… and it’s not a short piece of writing.
This entire piece of writing does actually show who I am as a human. I think if you read all, estimated, 20 pages, of this work of writing, you will know me more – as well as how I think. I have put little headlines to break apart the writing if you do want to take breaks [lol]. Stans may pursue it the whole way through and those interested in learning about a lot of [funny and serious] fan theory may also find themselves lost in the long writing.
If you don’t know Taylor Swift or haven’t followed her career and think her work is just about her exe’s I’m actually begging you to read this. I know Swifties will read this… but the people who should actually read it, are those who are not.
I will make this as organized as I can – with breaking up the reading by eras, supplying video clips, whether they are interviews, funny videos, witty tweets, fan theories, or speculations, so even if you are completely unaware of the swiftie culture and what we think we know – I will give you the tools and resources to be able to follow along so you do not get lost.
Things this piece will discuss:
1. The importance of Taylor in my own life, including her own struggles as well as her lyrics.
2. My work within those narratives and how it’s influenced me, as a human growing up, and also as an artist with my recent Swift Era styled work.
3. Speculation and theories of Taylor’s work – I get into most of them, hang on tight.
4. Important context of specific instances, albums, events that catapulted Taylor into something newer, better and stronger, despite the heartache in some of them.
5. Eras she went through and the reason every single one had to happen for her to become the leader in the music industry that she is today.
6. The step by step breakdown of a ‘good girl approval seeking’ persona to a true songwriting – stand up person who eventually understands she won’t be able to please everyone.
Don’t misread that last line – I have loved Taylor from 15 years old when I was introduced to her music, to beyond the years of now [16 years wow]. We all are terrified of being rejected – and doing that in the spotlight is a larger fear than I can summarize with words.
Doing this project, photographing different eras, was really fun because I got to showcase that I am not just one style of photographer. The beginning of her eras were straight-forward photography. She had more mainstream photographers doing styles that were pretty unchallenging – and as she moved forward [even with the re-releases] she began to select her photographers more carefully – also shifting away from male photographers and solely supporting women… specifically women shooting film. So this was SUPER fun for me because I got to do back-flash, natural light, artificial lighting, film and digital – and even used 120mm film [Twin Lenses] for ‘Evermore’ and ‘Folklore’ and it was just a blast to showcase my variety of styles. More than anything this was a challenge to do in winter. ‘Evermore’ was really the only album that screamed WINTER, all the other eras are pretty summer/fall. So that was fun to brainstorm [lol].
My work and words on this website are usually fairly serious; but this is one aspect of my life that I like to fixate on when I’m not doing well mentally or when the state of the world is too much to hear about. This is a break from reality, it gives me joy, and it keeps me distracted. Plus, I have grown up with Taylor in my car stereo every single day, so although I’ll never meet her, she feels like a friend to me – and to many other fans of hers.
I also would like to hype my favorite podcast on this – Every Single Album with Nora and Nathan, and recently began to listen to 13: A Taylor Swift Fan Podcast within the last few months… which is also a great podcast. I admit I had to go back to this blog almost every time I listened to these podcasts because they would show a great clip of evidence or their interpretations of songs had me in a chokehold, which made me place some of it into this blog.. Both podcasts consider every angle without portraying a favorite one, which I loved as a listener.
I have learned so much about this journey of Taylor’s musically, as well as the copyright wars she is dealing with right now to own her own music. However, she is fighting this fight more so for the future of other artists and their rights to own their own music – and it’s just a fun journey to take for anyone interested in a musician’s growth or specifically Taylor’s life as an artist. In relevance, I am also a huge Halsey fan, and she is similarly battling issues with the company in which holds her master’s, as well as many other artists [ironically Kanye, too]. So this is all a pretty big deal for an artist to do this successfully, since many other times it hasn’t worked well for the artists.
I created a series that recreated Taylor Swift Eras -or – inspired shoots of those eras that include a bit of personalization from my own mind to make them less copy and more ‘inspired by’ images with my friends. I wanted to take the challenge of editing similarly to her album shoots or specific instances in music videos or building these aesthetics and places in my own mind. So in doing this, I thought I would open up to you, whoever is reading this, some things I have been thinking deeply about in regards to songwriting, drawing experiences from our own lives, and the idea that people project their own narratives onto those words. Hang on tight, because this post will start off far removed from Taylor as a human and you will begin to see exactly when I began to really pay attention to her life in comparison to the things she began to write about. To see each shoot separately and the explanation of each of them in concept click here. But I will be including singular shoot images throughout this blog.
Honestly writing this over the last several months has given me complete joy, in ways I cannot describe.
Before ‘Debut,’ Taylor Swift had begun writing and performing songs by the age of 12. As she aged she discussed how much she loved writing, even if it was drawing from experiences she never had personally experienced yet. I think the part of song writing that she loves the most, which really stood out in ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore.’ There may be hints of her own life, but it is so entangled with inspiration from books, drawing from other people’s lives or fantasy worlds that haven’t personally happened to her. Plus, for these two albums she also had Joe co-writing on some of these things, which probably meant his experiences were intertwined, too. She was quoted saying that she was writing about love and break ups at 12 years old, but she had no idea what breaking up and falling in love was like at that age. I think people forget this about her when they analyze every single lyric she writes down – the goal of a song writer, or an artist in general is TO BE relatable – and if that means making up a line, or using a specific age to make it feel something to your listeners, than that’s good songwriting, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the lyrics are 100 percent true.
I think about this with using the street ‘Cornelia Street,’ there is a lot of speculation on that song since she doesn’t live there anymore but she did hang out with Joe at the end of her stay at that apartment, however it’s a much prettier name to sing than ‘Franklin Street.’ So although maybe she didn’t know Joe for a long time while living on Cornelia street, the song still could be about him because Franklin street aint so romantic … but I’ll touch on this again in the ‘Lover‘ era.
Let’s start with the most important part of music from her career
no not debut, not evermore
Moving on. [lol]
‘Debut‘ came out when I was 15 years old. My best friend at the time told me about this girl, Taylor Swift, and showed me “Our Song.” It was the first time I had heard music that had the same vibe as the stuff I was writing – although – I definitely wasn’t country, nor did I like country at all, but something about how every lyric felt relatable to me as a 15 year old [she was 16 at the time] felt refreshing.
Just an average girl, in an average relationship, with average feelings – it felt nice.
You put up the walls and paint them all a shade of gray
And I stood there loving you, and wished them all away
And you come away with a great little story
Of a mess of a dreamer with the nerve to adore youCold As You
I listened to her country words, sang with a twang, and though both her twang and mine were fake, I felt like I had found a friend in a musician who had never met me. I don’t have a ton to say on Debut, but I played the album every day. It was the first rough recording and she had a lot of avenues to grow in, but there is an EXTENSIVE lists of unreleased songs on soundcloud in which, I’m looking forward to hearing some of them in a better recording production.
Fast forward to when ‘Fearless‘ came out: an album that blew ‘Debut‘ [quality speaking] out of the water. I’ll be honest, I never followed her personal life – I never followed any celebrities personal life – because of my dial up internet and my lack of investment in people’s lives, I didn’t know who she was dating or if she was personally going through a break up – all I knew was her words found a way into every crevice of my life. When ‘Fearless‘ came out, it was at the end of my high school career, I was dating a boy for a year or so, and whenever he would make me mad I played “White Horse,” and “You’re not Sorry,” on repeat for days in my car. Every bump she felt, I did too, every moment of joy she expressed, I did too – and to be honest songs like, “The Best Day,” didn’t even hit me, nor did I like them, until I was 30 and had an appreciation for time passing and for the adoration and cherished moments I had for my own mother. To this day, whenever I listen to this song, I cry. I constantly am reflecting on those precious young moments I’ll never get back, but look forward with love to create as many as I can to be able to reflect back on in the future.
And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side
Even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
Staying back and watching me shine…“The Best Day” – ‘Fearless’
A lot of people who haven’t actually heard all of Swift’s 9 albums act like every song is about an Ex-Relationship, but it’s not.
She has so many songs that discuss mental illness, passing of time, and a handful for her mother battling cancer. So many songs have nothing to do with her at all, or she has written other songs [example: “This love”] for other people’s love stories.
She even wrote about people that didn’t even know she noticed them: “Hey, Stephen.”
As I age, these songs that were written from pure grief or folktale exploration really begun to strike me down in the best way.
You used to shine so bright
But I watched all of it fadeYou’re Not Sorry
After ‘Fearless‘, came ‘Speak Now.’ That entire album just places a pause on my life in my first few years of Community College. Again, I didn’t have a clue who these songs were about – even “Dear John.” I didn’t research that she had a bad abusive [emotionally] relationship with John Mayer [but we all knew he was a jerk, right?]. I think it’s important to acknowledge that Mayer is an incredible artist. I think stan twitter or tiktok can be super toxic in canceling some of these people for relationships they have never been personally in, nor do we know the details. Kanye and Mayer may not be the best of people, but they are good musicians – and I think it’s important for people to know it’s ok if you like things they create. We, as outsiders, have no clue what actually goes on behind the screens.
You are an expert at sorry,
And keeping the lines blurry
Never impressed by me acing your tests
All the girls that you’ve run dry
Have tired, lifeless eyes
‘Cause you burned them out
But I took your matches before fire could catch me“Dear John” – ‘Speak Now’
For the albums I was disconnected with in pop culture, I just listened to the lyrics and translated them the way that felt right to me.
That’s the beauty of music – being able to interpret the message from the writer into exactly what you need at the time.
I would repeat “Speak Now” over and over in my car, sing it at the top of my lungs, and pretend I was in a karaoke bar somewhere. I remember the influence that I felt Paramore had on the creation of “Haunted,” since Taylor was hanging out with Haley Williams at that time [I did know that], and I remember hearing the drama of Enchanted and the absolute terrible cover that came back her way from Owl City – Adam Young. I say terrible because imagine hearing a song written about you, by one of the best lyricists, and you sending her song exactly as it was written, back to her by just adding her name – embarrassing. These were the days of Swiftie Tumblr, and boy, did we recycle that news for some time.
I have to include this video – because the song is so bad [lol]
But for songs and their dedicated receivers, I thought for the longest time “Mean” was about Kanye West, but it wasn’t, in fact, the genuine, loving song “Innocent” was meant for Kanye.
“32 and still growing up now,” is a line with his age, however, Mayer was also 32, so some people speculate this was a song written about two men who just haven’t matured at all [so it could be a dig lol]. But “Mean,” many people assumed it was about Kanye and his 2009 moment of terror to Taylor when she won her award, but really Taylor Swift wrote “Mean” in response to terrible reviews by infamous blogger Bob Lefsetz – who said she lip synced at her shows, which she replied basically, you can say I suck or you don’t like my music, but don’t lie about me and my performances.
‘Speak Now’ was Taylor’s first solo-made album. Because of this hatred coming from men [always men] she produced this album all by herself without any co-writers besides one song on the album. She made her entire album without anyone’s assistance to prove that she could do it by herself. So this album to me felt joyful, honest, and the tours felt cheesy and celebratory, but at 19, that’s what it should be.
‘Speak Now’ got little acknowledgement, and still to this day remains one of her most undervalued albums – although, I feel this could change when she re-releases her version and the vault tracks. Especially with gen z comin’ along with Tiktok and making trends with songs. Side note: It’s wild to me that artists now have to think about this as they make songs, like, ‘what’s going to make a good transition for the youths on Tiktok.‘
My mother accused me of losing my mind,
But I swore I was fine, you paint me a blue sky
And go back and turn it to rain“Dear John” – ‘Speak Now’
Something interesting to me, lyrically, about this album is prior to ‘Lover’ when she referred to blue, if at all it was in this more, happy way. Blue skies, happy times. After this deep realization of true love had been felt, these days of blue became the definition of absolute gut-wrecking love or a love that could potentially put her in a state of everlasting blue if it ended – a representative notion of a pure state of blue compared to the reference of it prior in her past albums.
We’ll circle back to that in the era of ‘Lover.’
There are so many songs on this album that are undervalued. “Dear John,” “Haunted,” “Ours,” are all songs I like to gate-keep [lol], but also a beginning of a new style that she would follow. “Dear John” is just so savage because it has the same riffs and tab progression as John Mayers “Gravity,” as an even further way to dig at him – Genius.
‘Speak Now’ was a time of naivety and youthfulness… musically and personally for Taylor. That’s why I think those that didn’t necessarily grow up with her in their car stereos will not get the same feeling as those who were there for the original releases. [side note: that’s always really weird for me to think about too, because I anticipated every album coming out as it was coming, and A LOT of swifties I see on TikTok are within the ages of 15-21 and just didn’t have that same experience. It does REALLY change a lot of stuff, specifically for the era of Reputation].
But best of all, she gave us “Long Live,” which was a song dedicated to her fans – and little did she know those dragons would in fact come and we would fight them with her later in 2016, together [and again from another nobody dude in 2022].The real fans would battle it out with people taking a very anti-feminist approach for the sake of saying she wasn’t ‘indie,’ enough and was ‘too mainstream,’ even though she was redefining exactly what that was.
So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep
And I feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe
And I’ll keep up with our old friends just to ask them how you are
Hope it’s nice where you are“Last Kiss,” ‘Speak Now’
[I love this bridge because breathing is so second nature to us that we just don’t even notice it. It’s something that feels so natural but forgotten, but without it life ceases to exist. If you forget to breathe? You fade away. Without you, I cannot live. Genius.]
After ‘Speak Now,’ came ‘Red.’
If I was standin’ there in your apartment
I’d take that bomb in your head and disarm it
I’d say I love you even at your darkest
And please don’t go.
I didn’t know you were breakin’ down
I’d fall to pieces on the floor if you weren’t around
Too young to know it gets better
I’ll be summer sun for you forever,
Forever winter if you goForever Winter (Taylor’s Version) – ‘Red’
‘Red‘ came out when I was in fact, 22, and was also going through a terrible break up. However, this album did not resonate with me when it came out, for many reasons. Our girl Swift, has a terrible time choosing singles, or at least her PR team that thinks putting out the most ‘unauthentic’ songs for radio is a good idea. But they do be upbeat, that’s true.
I think it’s maybe plausible for a few reasons:
- She purposely chooses songs that are catchy, up beat, or she foresees the radio taking off with them.
- The songs she puts out first, are the ones she can see music videos produced for, immediately.
- She trusts that her fan base will purchase whatever she puts out, therefore she doesn’t always choose her strongest hits because she knows we are in fact a cult and will buy everything immediately. I’m not even denying this one.
Lyrically Swift starts to become more poetic in this album. I think the thing I hate the most about our fan base is they never read based on lines, but on musical structure. SO in the song “All Too Well” there are a few times you need to read to the end of the line and not when she takes a breath, to avoid miscommunication of the song.
He’s gonna say it’s love, you never called it what it was
‘Til we were dead and gone and buried
You never called it what it was til we were dead and gone and buried.
People took this line and ended it at “called it what it was,” disregarding the next line and then all of a sudden the song was about gaslighting and abuse. And Fuck, maybe it was kinda about that, but that’s not the line – if you are taking it at face value of the words. Maybe it was a dual meaning for her because of where she breaks the music structure – but because she claims this was a ramble of emotions in a music studio – I’m not sure that was the intention.
No Doubt, JG is a pos to women – but that line needed to be continued for the true and real interpretation. We do see this again though in “Cruel Summer” on ‘Lover’ where again, fans don’t continue the line or break it in the wrong way because of the music breaths alone.
And it’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
I saw SO many videos about “How is Joe Alwyn’s body blue???” Bro, read the lyrics lol
But she does refer to him as blue in a whole new way during ‘Lover,’ but again, more on that later [it’s a loaded era for me].
‘Red‘ was released in a time that she would not stream her stuff on Spotify due to artists rights and compensation. In 2012, she refused to be apart of the platform and released “22” on the radio. The switch that ‘Speak Now’ was from ‘Red‘ …. she basically shocked her entire fan base.
I will say that because of this switch to Pop, I didn’t buy her stuff immediately. I couldn’t decide if she was selling out or what she was doing – and now at 30, I understand she had a true direction in motive. She wasn’t country, she wasn’t “home town Tennessee bred,” in fact she was from Pennsylvania, and the only genre that would take a guitar playin’, self writing gal at the time was in fact the country genre. I still am uncertain if she actually KNEW that her next album would in fact be ‘Red‘, when she was releasing her deluxe of ‘Speak Now.’ I have a hard to thinking that she knew she’d go through a bad heartbreak, but maybe as she was finishing it she envisioned the color red and the next album as completely in love, when it went the other way. But the album covers have many of us wondering many things.
She has said in a few interviews that her fans catch things she didn’t purposely think about or how math lined up in a way that she didn’t realize, so it wouldn’t be far off to think some of these things weren’t actually Easter Eggs, but she made them into what they had to be, or did so unintentionally.
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=587082469179566 <- Interview about “All Too Well” and vault tracks and about fans knowing more than she does about her own releases, sometimes.
‘Red’s’ specific album came out when I was too poor to buy it, and all I listened to was Pandora. I heard a few of her songs and couldn’t understand the country to pop vibe, and the tracks were all over the place. Now at 30, as I listen to music for the art of it, consider the list tracks as part of the story in the order they are placed, all of it makes sense. Taylor intended on ‘Red‘ to be that push and pull of emotion. She intended on it whiplashing you back and forth from OK to NOT OKAY, because that’s what a break up is. Seriously, you go from “All too Well” to “22.” One song ends and you’re crying, to the next, your crying while laughing and dancing.
I didn’t realize it at the time [or maybe I did, my facebook statuses say I did, lol], but ‘Red‘ came out when I needed it the most.
During my break up I played “I Almost Do,” every single night in my empty apartment with my guitar.
I quoted “I Knew You Were Trouble,” on my Facebook statuses.
I was turning 22 and played the song on repeat on my birthday
I cried during “All Too Well” frequently and I just didn’t really realize that album was everything I was going through at the time.
I hadn’t bought the album until I was around 28, so I never heard the gems that were on the ‘Target Exclusives,’ like “Treacherous.” When Taylor’s Version was released it was only made better. But seriously the way she whisper sings, “stay,” is like she’s saying it to the person next to her. It feels so cinematic and visual.
A decade later Taylor’s Version of ‘Red‘ is released. The best vault tracks so far [as I write this the other albums have not been released besides ‘Fearless’], and many of the vault tracks honestly show the musical direction she was planning on going next with 1989. “Nothing New,” pairs exactly right up to “Lucky One” in the discussion of older/aging artists being spit up by Hollywood as it takes in new blood, younger models, and replaces them.
What’s nice about these vault tracks is they are almost recorded in the style she evidently loves and is hers: Folklore and Evermore. Old lyrics, new vibes. She did these tracks justice by releasing them when they had the ability to be the best they could ever be.
Taylor has had recurring evident fears in her career:
- Not being as good as other women artists. It’s why it took her SO LONG to give us a verse with another woman artist actually singing, and not just on the backtrack or in harmony. She has always been insecure of her voice, which she has worked on a TON over the years. She finally gave us Phoebe Bridgers on “Nothing New,” and what a song that makes me cry routinely….
I also finally understand that “Lucky One” was written in inspiration of Britney Spears, “Lucky,” and the constant repetition in her music about fame ruining women and spitting them out as they age, but never to men. Miss Americana [the documentary] also really discusses this as she states she’s had to go under reinvention over and over to stay relevant.
- Becoming irrelevant news. When she released “Nothing New,” it really all came together for me. And I think her waiting a decade to release this song with the perfect woman voice/choice, and more indie styled than pop [really ‘Evermore’ vibes here], was the correct decision.
ARTIST RIGHTS DISCUSSION
As she is re-releasing all of her old stuff again, she is only becoming more relevant.
Her music is filling up car stereos in ways it couldn’t have a decade ago because the music industry wasn’t ready for this style of music like it is now. She is putting her past and long life followers in nostalgia, and she is reaching ears of those who were too young to know her music when it came out. Genius.
On top of that she is experimenting with her own marketing tactics instead of depending on a record label, and she is proving that it works. She is really challenging the industry right now with artists rights and marketing… artists may not need marketing companies or record labels at all. In the end if they have a strong enough fan base they may be able to market themselves.
Nathan and Nora, from the podcast I linked in the beginning of this writing, mentioned how just doing one tour, Taylor could make back all the money that Scooter sold her catalogues for, and she could easily buy them back. But it’s the premise of having to buy what you wrote, and what continues to fuck over artists, that she is unwilling to do. It’s not about the money. Ironically, Kanye is doing the same thing and is in the same battle of past music that he wrote that is behind glass doors, seen but untouched. And in many music videos, specifically “Look What You Made Me Do,” and “Ready for It,” many critics and fans have speculated the caged swifts could be her secret album ‘Karma’ [I’ll touch on this later, promise], her true self vs what she has to be in the media, OR her music that isn’t hers or isn’t able to be touched by her.
With her vault tracks, however, I just gotta say, “I Bet You Think About Me,” “Babe,” “BETTER MAN,” “Nothing New,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “The Very First Night,” are fricken bangers, and the music video directed by Blake Lively, is even better.
But the song that gets me the most is probably “Forever Winter,” which is a song about losing someone to depression, substance abuse, and it’s just very real. Speculated to be about her brother [who is still very much alive] or her best friend Jeff Lang, which she sang around this time at his funeral and mentioned him during receiving an award – but is relevant to everyone who has felt like giving up … ever… forgetting those we could leave behind in pain. This is also where speculation of her being a great ally and being more vocal come from as well [to the lgbt community]. It’s speculated that Lang was gay and after his death Taylor took on this ally-ship and being more vocal [too young to know it gets better]. I also wonder if Joe Alwyn has a bit of influence of this because of his recent interviews about mental health… like for sure she wrote it before him, but I don’t doubt she changed a few things to be more tasteful or just more maturely written before re let them out of the vault [so just broader perspectives.
I also need to link this video because, what a gem. Thank you Blake for giving us Taylor in a wedding gown.
As I write this I have already gone through the whiplash and crazy obsessive listening mode of the ‘Red’ re-recorded album. Same as fearless, some of the originals felt a bit more gut punchy then the re-records [Forever & Always, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.. I’m lookin’ at you], BUT one song that got even better and longer is obviously “All Too Well.” To be honest, that wasn’t my favorite song on that album, in fact I didn’t understand WHY it got so much attention because I blasted “I Almost Do,” in my apartment about 800 more times than “All Too Well,” however, the lengthier version just made it that much better. “All Too Well” Sad Autumn Girl Version is the best don’t @ me. It also makes an excellent timer if you need 10 minutes to wait for something. But anyways, the thing I love about this song so much [besides the lyrics] is the cinematic way she sings in detail – almost haunting-like. It’s the same whisper and scenes I can feel and hear in “Treacherous.”
I hear the sound of my own voice
Asking you to *whisper* stay“Treacherous” – ‘Red’
But the end of the song –
Wind in my hair, you were there, you remember it all
Down the stairs, you were there, you remember it all
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well“All Too Well” (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)
You can almost see someone, walking down the stairs, hand on the railing, slowly. Switch to another scene, “wind in my hair, I was there,” flash back to the stairs, I was there. All of it, the way she haunts him till the end, repeating the event over and over, like flashbacks that can never be forgotten – poetic. The internet lost its damn mind when this song came out [ten min version] because the lyrics got just THAT more good. Sad, but good. But relatable, to all of us who have felt heartbreak.
Lastly, this is where we start to see Ed Sheeran a LOT throughout her albums – and it’s kind of beautiful to watch their friendship grow. I could blog alone about the friends that I think have really been there for Taylor and watching their small snippets online or images that they take throughout the times – but I won’t include that in here [Selena, Ed Sheeran, her mama]. The last song Ed Sheeran and her produced “The Joker and The Queen,” was honestly one of the most boring songs to me, HOWEVER, the music video and the continuation of time that they have placed in their other music videos to show the ending of the story was pure gold. And that’s where I will leave the discussion of Ed alone, however, there is a whole side of TikTok that believes almost all her songs are written about him, which is hilarious.
So until recently, like I said, I haven’t been one to really dive into personal lives of celebrities. I still don’t know much about many people – but I think I started to get more invested in Taylor because of her lyrics – and honestly – Swifttok has been great, but also toxic in this instance too.
Up until ‘1989’ I was pretty removed from her as a person. ‘1989’ was the peak of her career. The industry clearly couldn’t take it. ‘1989’ for Taylor, I feel, is a massively loaded time. I’m going to leave speculation out of this for the most part but I am going to address some things that have been speculated on that I DO believe have an impact on where she went after this album was produced.
POP CULTURE / EATING DISORDERS
In 2019, the “Miss Americana” Documentary, Taylor discusses an eating disorder. This honestly linked my love for her even more – as I watched this documentary, cried in the world of COVID , and addressed my own problems. But during this discussion of her disorder, she showed her ‘1989 tour,’ and photoshoots.
I have always loved Taylor, a lot. I always thought she was beautiful. I contemplated if I was jealous of her or if I had the largest actual crush on her – but this documentary, in which I have watched 10 times or more, made her feel like my sister. Sometimes, and I think most fans feel like this, I feel like she actually is my twin in personality. We both appreciate art, cats, real books, are very quirky, try to dance but are a bit ungraceful, are awkward, are real, have had bad self image and body issues, went through eating disorders, and I feel like every album she released… I just needed it at that time. Our specific generation grew up with thin is best, an expectation that working hard will get us somewhere but it’ll never be good enough, and that being anything other than straight wasn’t acceptable. Also, that women were always calculated, while men were strategic, and that no matter what the glass ceiling was our limit. So to say this documentary meant something to me, and to many of the fans, is a big understatement. This documentary actually convinced me to go to a therapist and enter recovery for my 15 year – anorexic – eating disorder.
At this point, she was also hanging out with MANY models, including Karlie Kloss. Now, I’m not going to comment on if they were actually dating or not, there is a lot of speculation on this – if it interests you you can read some info here. But honestly Karlie stabbed Taylor in the back and is just not a great person and idk…
Taylor and Karlie have denied it many times, so I will respect both of their privacy. But anyways, Taylor was hanging out with a ton of models – many of them working for Victoria’s Secret. I feel like this could only further push this narrative of being thin… and never being thin enough. I personally have a bad taste in my mouth about Kloss because of her relationship with Scooter now, but I’ll come back to that.
BACK TO 1989
This album was rumored to have hints of Harry Styles in it [hint song: “style”], but also about Dianna Agron, specifically in “Wonderland.” Dianna referenced almost everything Alice in Wonderland, including a blog she wrote on which was titled “DowntheRabbithole”, had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ tattoo, and Taylor throughout that album kept routinely mentioning narratives and lines of that book/movie within her songs. After this album was released Dianna got rid of the tattoo that referenced ‘Alice in Wonderland’ [all very curious timing], BUT again, speculation – nothing confirmed. However, if this album and specific songs were a true instance of fighting over sexuality – in combination of the complete devastation of the internet screaming against her when Kim and Kanye pulled their stunt on her, for a second time, it was all a lot of hate and speculation for the internet to handle at once. The idea that she was going to “Shake it Off,” didn’t really happen and Taylor went into hiding after the ‘1989 tour’ from the media, and everyone.
If the Dianna relationship is true, these photo sessions for the era and for specifically “Wonderland,” make a whole lot of sense. [lol] But damn this era had so many looks.But also, I will routinely say that sometimes friend break ups hurt deeper than romantic ones- and she DID ask people to stop accusing her friends of loving her in 2012 in a tweet – so – that is a big point I want to acknowledge.
HOWEVER, There are also other links to Harry Styles – in which Hannah – the Swift Detective on Tiktok [also on the ’13’ podcast they had an hour and a half episode for her] in which she has pretty solid evidence or makes firm connections with him too – so… goodness who knows, maybe both, maybe one or the other? But overall it doesn’t matter, music is made for the listener to attach their feelings to the song, not figure out the artist’s life to be able to understand the lyrics.
‘1989’ was an interesting album for me as a listener. “Wildest Dreams” really sounded a lot like Lana Del Rey [who I was in love with musically], and I think at this time everyone accepted Taylor’s new direction after ‘Red.’ She pretty much dropped all the country vibes and had wonderful singles, “Wonderland,” “This Love,” “Shake it Off,” and honestly the album was just incredible. It had notes of 80’s in it, to which she said she didn’t realize it but she was subconsciously putting them in there. “Clean” was the first song to completely destroy me, and one that I couldn’t stop playing while drunk or sober, singing as passionately as I ever had before. Her bridges became quite incredible during this album, and she had mentioned she just wanted an album that people could dance to, and she conquered that.
Recreating this era was challenging for me while I was photographing my series because she literally had 40 different looks and at the end of the album tour came bleachella. But it was like a mix of masculine-wonderland vibes, 80s pop, many crop tops, shitty produced polaroids with heartfelt lyrics, ‘sexy’ runway shows, and then like rocker – Blondie inspired garb [and she got a nickname from it too]. So .. I usually talk to my models about what part of the era they want to dress up as, and this one was super complex.
This album brought in narratives of the media quite heavily. Her music video “Blank Space,” really created this persona that she thought was funny that the media painted her out to be.
It’s 2022, and people still don’t get this entire song is satire.
“I know places” is also a song to me about hiding from the media. She stated in an interview that it was about watching a loved one you care about go through the media drag, but sometimes I think she is writing songs about herself, watching herself. A lot of LGBTQI members like to see this song through more of a ‘gay lens’ too, which I think is a very interesting interpretation of the song as well – because it is incredibly relatable that way, too – but when I first heard it – I thought about the brutality of the media – which little did she know all of this was boiling up to be exactly what she sang about.
Ten months sober I must admitClean – ‘1989’
Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it
Looking back at ‘1989’ now, from all of the hints about Dianna [if true], to her fixation with media and image because of the friends she had, romantic or not, to break ups, the brutality of the media- its a peppy album with severely sad undertones.
Just being seen too much – without being actually seen at all. Which brings us to ‘Reputation.’
People always bring up this poem that Taylor included in the Reputation release, but they never bring up the more important one.
This is where I refute the idea about Karlie Kloss being in a romantic relationship with Taylor for many reasons.
I’ve kissed my friends before with zero feelings towards them sexually. [This is referring to kiss-gate that people make a big deal out of]. Sometimes ya just love ya damn friends, ya know?
Karlie Kloss is managed by Scooter- which is the reason all of the releases are happening currently any ways. Scooter is making it hard for Taylor to own all of her own songs that she wrote, about her own life. There were rumors that Kloss was leaking songs and information about Taylor around the ‘1989’ era, and a little after, which caused them to break. But the line in the poem “And no amount of friends at 25 will fill the empty seats at the lunch tables of your past…” really solidifies the end of this relationship for me. But also, the fact this had to happen for Taylor to grow up and leave the past behind – is a part of life… these heartbreaks suck, friend or romantic relationship, but they catapult us into something better.
But all of her poems, words, snippets she included in the Reputation pre-orders are pretty loud in her hurt with friendship breakups.
This is another part of her that I heavily relate to – because we all have been betrayed, abandoned, left, and hurt drastically sometimes never knowing why by close friends, and DAMN that hurts.
I’m actually really happy her model friend days are over, I just don’t see hanging around this, quite frankly, high pressured self-image group of people to be healthy for someone who isn’t in the same field, or any one honestly. But without this break we would not have gotten ‘Reputation,’ so as a selfish listener, I thank them for showing her their true colors.
Kloss also manages/owns W Magazine and when [recently] this image of Jake G was put out … right after “All Too Well” ten min. version was released... yaaahhh there just has to be bad blood there.
Skipping ahead to ‘Evermore,’ there is a song called, “Time to Go.” This song [speculation] references Kloss as a sister, betraying her, which is honestly a way that best friends see one another. But best friend relationships that end are HARD – and maybe there was love there, or a crush, or maybe it was just another way that Taylor made a best friend relationship sound like a romantic one breaking up for more relatability with her fans. Either way, there are a lot of songs on ‘Reputation’ definitely about Kloss – but we can never say exactly how that relationship went or ended.
“When your dinner is cold and the chatter gets old you ask for the tab
Or that moment again, he’s insisting that friends look at each other like that
When the words of a sister come back in whispers
That prove she was not in fact what she seemed
Not a twin from your dreams
She’s a crook who was caught
That old familiar body ache, the snaps from the same little breaks in your soul
You know when it’s time to go”
So maybe she had a love affair, but I honestly think that sometimes best friend relationships ending hurt even more than romantic ones. This is where I am going to say that Taylor is just an amazing writer, who draws from her pain, but writes in a way that creates more buzz, connection, and honestly profit from her listeners.
Between ‘1989‘ and ‘Reputation‘, Taylor went into hiding. But there is an entire fan theory that there is a lost album “Karma,” based off her aesthetic of bleachella. This is a podcast by “13” that discusses the entire idea of this fan theory. I’ve talked about this in the blog of ‘Reputation’ as well
Reputation was released after the media ‘cancelled’ Swift for something she didn’t do – for a second time – from Kanye. She went into hiding for a full year after her ‘1989‘ tour – took a break from people and the media and began to write Reputation. There is a theory that there is an album unreleased written between ‘1989‘ and Reputation called “Karma.” The reason this theory exists is because at the end of ‘1989‘ – Swift bleached her hair, started to dress in this ‘rocker’ blondie vibe, and TYPICALLY Swift starts to hint to her next era using her fashion choices. However, Swift went into hiding and then brought out a new look that had nothing to do with ‘bleachella’ at all.
[Video link for reference and fan theory below]
https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkx3djdJO2_TnWzcwF9XHmr6IFjBrODZZGm <- Explanation of Bleachella and the hair shift which the fans KNEW that meant something new was coming – another ‘reinvention’ of herself… which ended up hiding away – in theories of a suitcase [lol, only fans will get this reference so I’ll let you in on it if you are unaware].
But there are only a few songs about Calvin Harris, and in this lost album, most of these songs would be there – around the time they broke up.
Cause all the boys and their expensive cars
With their Range Rovers and their Jaguars
Never took me quite where you do“King of my Heart,” Reputation
^^ This quote is a beautiful reference to Calvin Harris because he had a Range Rover. Through ‘Reputation’ and ‘Lover,’ toxically, Tiktok loved to make these lines about Taylor thinking Joe was poor, but honestly it was just a dig to those people she had dated that always put materials and money first, and Joe was the first relationship she had that was about the emotions, experiences, and pure love. But many fans are set on Karma existing, because there is a lost chapter in her story.
I was dancing when the music stopped
And in the disbelief, I can’t face reinvention“Happiness,” Evermore
Personally I think ‘Reputation‘ is one of her most romantic albums ever produced because it has large undertones of a secret love that isn’t for show but is blossoming. “New Years Day,” and “Delicate,” and “Call it What You Want”— looking at you.
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it too soon to do this yet?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate“Delicate” – ‘Reputation
‘Reputation’ was not an album for the general public, ‘Reputation’ was an album for Taylor’s fans. “Look what you made me do” came out and instantly showed over 120 Easter eggs of her basically saying ‘fuck you, and you and you and you,’ and she stated that fans still haven’t found all of them.
‘Reputation’ was an album of anger against the media, celebrities, old friends who betrayed her, a new branding of herself to rid the idea she had to be a perfect, good girl, and has undertones of the most romantic love in secret. There are many things about this album that pulls me as a listener and as an artist.
She basically kills off her old self in this music video [above]. In the background at the end of the “Look what you made me do” video we have the true Taylor standing on the plane as the old Taylors, perfectly curated for the media, argue it out. This song again, was released as a single, to which the general public hated, but the long term Swift fans understood.
Also, I’d like to point out that after a year away from people, beginning the album with a throat clearing in “Are You Ready For It,” because she had a LOT to say is pure gold.
But fully “Blank Space” walked so “… Ready For It” could run.
Again, the girl is clearly choosing these singles for a reason – but “So it Goes,” “Call It What You Want,” “Delicate,” “Getaway Car,” all could have been much stronger singles to actually entice new listeners to buy her album, but it’s like she wasn’t concerned about that at all or at least her PR team didn’t think the media could handle these new styled songs. I actually don’t love “Dress” that much but the bridge fricken slaps.
“Delicate” is a song to me that I will run out of the shower to turn up. My utmost favorite song, almost of all time – but definitely on that album. ‘Reputation‘ was the album that pulled me full in 100 percent. I became obsessed – and I had been, but not to this level. People give this album a hard time BUT:
– its a mixture of anger: “Are You Ready for It,” “I Did Something Bad,” “Look What You Made Me Do,” “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”
– secret and true love: “End game,” “Delicate,” “So it Goes,” “Getaway Car” [poor tom], “King of my Heart,” “Dancing with our Hands Tied,” “Dress,” “Call it What You Want” and “New Years Day,”
I, I loved you in secret
First sight, yeah, we love without reason
My, my love had been frozen
Deep blue, but you painted me golden“Dancing with Our Hands Tied” – ‘Reputation’
and so much more speculation on WHO these songs are about – although we assume it’s Joe Alwyn. A year in isolation, as we all know, is an excellent time to make up stories from things that never happened but there are some things that are just so… clearly not Joe. lol
This video below warms my fricken heart every time too…
So anyways, some of these songs and lyrics are just so utterly romantic. But I do wanna give a nice lil call out to the way American sounding “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” I know some people hate that song but to be honest nothing gives me more joy then singing, “and here’s to my moommaaaa had to listen to ALL THIS DRAMA.” Pure Joy.
She continues some of these American styled voice moments and lyrics in ‘Lover,’ specifically in “London Boy,” and “I think he knows,” and I am 500% here for it. It is my ultimate favorite lines to yell in my car, alone or with company .
What I love most about Taylor is she does do Easter eggs for her fans but also knows that her fans sometimes take it way too far. Like she mentioned that the album name ‘Lover‘ was in the music video “Me!,” it was so big and obvious but like, all of the fans missed it because as we do, we dive far too deep and expected it to be like, over the top decoded- when there it was. [lol].
Look at how noticeable this shit is. ->
Prior to this release, she had posted just a random photo of her face through a hole of a fence. It didn’t mean anything, she just liked the photo, and was switching from black and white rep era, to pastel, but her fans made it an easter egg that wasn’t actually an easter egg [we always clown lol]. They came up with all of these theories and Taylor actually responded on tumblr [very sarcastically] “track five is about holes in a fence.”
So when the “You Need to Calm Down” music video was about to drop she posted another photograph of a fence with a caption “There were five posts in the fence,” to poke fun at her fans.
After the break with her old record label, Taylor was extremely excited for ‘Lover‘ to come out. ‘Lover‘ is actually one of my favorite albums but apparently people give it a lot of hate? I think, first of all, true Swifties wouldn’t tear apart each album they don’t identify with. I have a LOT to say about the ‘Lover era and why it means so much, to me and to her growth.
My heart, my hips, my body, my love
Trying to find a part of me that you didn’t touch
Gave up on me like I was a bad drug
Now I’m searching for signs in a haunted club
Our songs, our films, united we stand
Our country, guess it was a lawless land
Quiet my fears with the touch of your hand
Paper cut stings from our paper thin plans“Death by A Thousand Cuts” – ‘Lover’
‘1989,’ followed by the media fall out, making ‘Reputation’ all had to happen for ‘Lover‘ to exist. ‘Reputation’ was the first time girl didn’t give a FUCK about her image in the way she had been obsessed with it before – musically, lyrically, and her image.
‘Lover,’ was that idea pushed to the max. People also forget that albums are created when one era is still happening. Speak Now Swift was writing Red, Red Swift was writing 1989, 1989 hidden from the media Swift [KARMA] was writing Reputation, and the happiest touring Swift we’ve ever seen – free and falling in love – wrote lover. This is why we think Karma exists because during the 1989 tour for sure she was writing the next album, but it surely wasn’t Reputation since she began to writing that in hiding. But anyways…
This album was very motivated politically in its content and in its time to be released. A lot of people don’t like ‘Lover,’ or the single “The Man” [the music video was PHENOM] because Taylor made her voice evident in where she stood on gay rights, the patriarchy, and feminism – and the people against those rights rejected this album. Also, politically she released this as well as her documentary which was really just a long [amazing] film to explain why she had been so quiet politically, though we know that she had been donating thousands of dollars to causes she stood for anonymously and not anonymously. She also donated a lot – and during the beginning of the pandemic she was randomly sending out thousands of dollars to NYC residents having a hard time paying rent. But here are some non-anon donations she was applauded for [there are SO many more, this is just a snapshot of what I found on twitter in 2 minutes]:
P.s. Taylor as the man in “The Man” music video is the best thing that happened to me in 2019 lol
People are still giving her a hard time for not speaking out right now about Roe v Wade, but the truth is she has many court cases in mid-summer and I guarantee she is being told to to stay out of all polarizing topics for the jury alone to forget her relevance in these things. She has never gone through court for her own ownership of music, so I bet there is something deeper there, although we know where she stands politically on these subjects already. I will say I went to a Halsey concert at the end of May 2022, and it was incredible how she used her voice to discuss Roe v Wade and women’s rights to “Nightmare.” I have never physically had goosebumps during an entire concert, and I have never cried out of passion during one either. So that was a beautiful thing to experience, among many women that filled the entire arena with emotions. So there is a beautiful thing about speaking up with your platform, but none of us should expect artists to do this for us.
Back to lover: if “Loverfest” would have not been cancelled due to COVID, I think this era would have solidified the more temperament fans. Gen Z and some millennials haven’t experienced love and happiness yet – and I think that’s the issue, too. Maybe that’s why they love “Death by A Thousand Cuts” [referencing a movie Taylor watched], and “Cruel Summer,” because they aren’t actually love songs? I don’t know, delusional – even if I didn’t know love I would still adore this album because it shows her at her happiness, and she deserves that.
Miss Americana [the documentary] really showed this making of “You Need to Calm Down.” There was a specific part where she was asking how to be a better ally [this is why I refuse to confirm my opinions on her love life]. I think one of those responses was to be more inclusive language wise – as well as to speak up politically. This is why ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ use you much more than he or she in her lyrics. But also the speculation from fans is seriously exhausting because it’s made its way into even Alwyn’s life and social media. There are constant ‘fans‘ that say their relationship is PR or fake because they have placed their own narrative onto both of them – but if you are a true fan you will respect the privacy and not root for their relationship to fail.
Even if she, or they [there is speculation on Joe now because of an interview of him discussing some of his favorite movies, but y’all, we want straight people to learn about LGBTQI movies and shows so they educate themselves vs following stereotypes – so this is a big reach and I have a lot of thoughts on it], weren’t straight, you wouldn’t force your friends out of the closet. To constantly theorize on a celebrities sexuality just ain’t it. ESPECIALLY if you call yourself a true fan, it’s just a good way to ensure you’ll never meet her if you’re always talking about her. There is some innocence in this speculation sometimes, I get it, especially the hopefulness you find community in her… but also if she isn’t bi or gay and it affects how you feel about her because she doesn’t fit the narrative you have pushed onto her? You need to step back and re-evaluate if you love her or the idea you’ve created. As someone who was a closeted bi-sexual for 28 years, I’m telling you our generation [and the previous generations] did not have the luxury to speak openly about it, nor did some of us know that not being straight was even an option until we figured it out past the date of finding our spouses. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, but today’s culture and platforms make it so much easier and more accessible to key information that allow us to question who we really are. But if she can make songs about abuse, depression, suicide [this is me trying, seven, etc] then she can also make work about instances she’s never faced first hand to connect to her viewers and damn, that’s beautiful.
So… rooting for her relationship to fail is sad and fiercely annoying. Don’t do that. Support your favorite artists and believe what they say in public – and if they want us to know other information they will let us know in their own time.
In her documentary she released it at a time, along with the song “Only the Young,” to tell Trump to fuck off, and to come out as a democrat. If Loverfest would have happened, I truly believe it would have been the most inclusive, representational tour she had ever done that would have promoted artists of color as well as the LGBTQI+ community. The documentary really gave her fans an insight to her intentions and heart for the album. AND those responses really shifted how she wrote ‘Folklore,’ and ‘Evermore,’ language wise [there are much less pronouns, and even her release of “Very First Night,” includes YOU rather than him or her].
Burning before me
I’m feeling helpless
The damsels are depressed
Boys will be boys, then
Where are the wise men?Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
‘Lover,’ again, released singles that just… weren’t as good as the other songs on the album. Comparative to other artists they are still great songs, but compared to other songs on that album, “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” just were not selling points for a new listener to buy her album. AGAIN, these songs visually for her music videos seem to be the drive to release them as singles, because each music video was crafted so particularly and special.
“Cruel Summer,” is one of the best songs on this album, which I still have a hard time understanding the song, as its lyrics definitely discuss this hard summer of telling truths to find clarity in the relationship. The summer she specifically is singing about is the summer of 2016, which a LOT of shit happened to her month after month. Prior to this year, she had hosted July 4th BIG parties, and summer was her time of the year, and after that summer those loud instances became pretty quiet from her.
“Lover,” was obviously a song that did well as a music video, single, and overall popularity and still remains one of the most streamed songs of hers [literally a beautiful music video].
This album is also a tad confusing because although we assume it’s about Joe, songs like Cornelia Street [which I discussed earlier, maybe just using past names is more romantic to sing rather than 1st street or Franklin Street lol] but she DID start hanging out with Joe in 2016 and does reference this same place on the west side in “Delicate” on Reputation, which Taylor doesn’t live at any more, but Kloss did live around the block on Elizabeth street which DOES have a garden gate…. also an interesting narrative… but it’s also not the first time she ever references garden gates in her songs… Love Story, Betty, etc.
Joe definitely doesn’t scream NYC, nor does the city scream his name either. So there are a lot of theories on these lyrics, though I do like to dial back this idea and remember she is just writing from inspiration – and again – break ups with best friends sting for YEARS.
But sometimes I wonder if she is singing about herself from someone else’s perspective. Maybe that sounds narcissistic, but IDK man, she knows who she is [lol]. I think about this with the song “Gold Rush,” particularly in ‘Evermore,‘ because Joe Alwyn wasn’t and isn’t really a big name, and not everyone wants him, but everyone definitely wants Taylor.
Some fans believe that “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” also is her talking about herself with both titles. The song is pretty politically motivated, but overlooked because fans hear the high school narrative and think immediately that she should be beyond this, and that it’s about love – when it’s not. I think of Hollywood and the world, honestly, as a bad popularity contest. The immaturity that arises in both political figures and rich people sometimes is too much, and what better metaphor to compare them to, than to high school, which is a very accessible metaphor to all people since we basically have all been through high school experiences and drama. But she was the ‘prom queen’ and she now is the heartbreak prince, taking a bat to all of the preconceived notions about her and calling out people’s shit, finally.
But over all this album meant a lot to me. “The Man,” “I Think He Knows,” “MISS AMERICANA AND THE HEART-BREAK PRINCE” and literally all of these songs I listen to daily.
“Soon You’ll Get Better,” was also a song that came out as my cousin was dying from a brain tumor, and Taylor wrote it for her mother who has been battling cancer for a few years now – and let me tell you, it’s a song I’m not always ready to listen to. [Same with “Ronan” on ‘Red,’ though it’s a beautiful song and tribute to the boy]
Holy orange bottles – each night I pray to you
Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus, too“Soon You’ll Get Better” – ‘Lover’
I know delusion when I see it in the mirror
You like the nicer nurses, you make the best of a bad deal
I just pretend it isn’t real
I’ll paint the kitchen neon, I’ll brighten up the sky
I know I’ll never get it, there’s not a day that I won’t try“Soon You’ll Get Better” – ‘Lover’
‘Lover’ allowed her to show the things that didn’t matter to her any more – recognition, materials and money being the basis of a relationship, and began to show her values as an American Citizen; equality, gay rights, anti-racism [in who she was including in her shows, music videos and on her tracks], and speaking up against Trump [and after he said he liked her 25% less, she discounted her entire store by 25%]. Overall it was just a freeing era.
You play stupid games
You win stupid prizes“Miss Americana and the Heart-break Prince” – ‘Lover’
[JUSTICE FOR LOVER ERA]
Without this era, ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ would not exist.
Taylor ends this album with “Daylight,” “It’s nice to have a friend,” and “Afterglow,” which are really a lean into the sound of ‘Folklore.’ Each of these songs have the acceptance of real love, a different sound [specifically “It’s nice to have a friend”] and the acceptance that Taylor has hurt people [Joe, probably], but it’s going to be okay. The ‘Lover’ album was filled with absolute fear that she would lose this long love that she has obtained for 3 or more years [going on 5 now]. The entire album has notes of celebration of love in all ways [politics included] but also fearful notes of her biggest love leaving her.
Overall the Lover era may have been a political album, aimed at getting signatures to protect LGBTQI+ rights with the facade of a love story album – however, there are definitely love songs on there. ‘Reputation’ was a good fuck you to everything and everyone she knew prior to that time that burned her, but ‘Lover’ really felt like a fuck you to the patriarchy that kept her down.
‘Reputation,’ ran so ‘Lover’ could sprint. Which eventually turned from “The Man” into “Mad Woman,” and all of it circled back to a fuck you to Scooter.
Side-note: it’s nice to have a friend pretty much convinced me she was married.
Church bells ring, carry me home
Rice on the ground looks like snow
Call my bluff, call you “babe”
Have my back, yeah, everyday
Feels like home, stay in bed
The whole weekend“It’s Nice to Have A Friend” – ‘Lover’
Like, yah. And Joe’s last name literally means “friend,” so… I’m callin’ it.
In English Baby Names the meaning of the name Alwyn is: Wise friend.
It’s also a fun fact to know that Taylor Swift used a sample of a choir for “It’s nice to have a friend” and donated all the proceeds to the School. “Toronto’s Regent Park School of Music is sampled in her new song “Its Nice To Have A Friend.” The choir is featured singing back up and are also involved in the instrumental aspect of the song.” – source
“Paper Rings,” was also a song that Taylor said she wanted to produce that felt like a complete wedding song – which it totally does, but there is a line that references jumping in the cold water that made her blue. In an interview Joe Alwyn did say that on New Years Eve his families tradition is to jump in a cold pond with Santa hats. So that rings true [lol] “It’s cold, freezing – like, you gotta get out within 30 seconds otherwise you’re not gonna (get out)!”
In the winter, in the icy outdoor pool
When you jumped in first, I went in too
I’m with you even if it makes me blue“Paper Rings,” ‘Lover’
Photographing ‘Lover’ was so incredibly fun and I found a behind the scenes video that Claire and I drew from. I want the star jacket, bad.
Did you know I had a ‘Lover’ Taylor Swift 30th themed birthday party last year? because I did, and my friends had to dress up, too. LOL. It was everything. My best friends even bought me a cardigan and also pins about Taylor Swift and now I am also addicted to those, and they are all over my camera bags. But that’s why this part of the blog is SO long, because there is a lot of information to cover and she started to allow her music to speak for itself without the speculation from the media.
AND before we move on to the next album – a few key spots I want to highlight [for me] on this album.
- “London Boy” and how unapologetically American it is, again, you know I love these straight up American vibes in songs that literally no one from other countries would do.
“Took me back to Highgate, met all of his best mates, so I guess all the rumors are true,” just scream that for me would ya?
- The lyrical parallels only get stronger as she keeps writing. From shifting to “All’s well that ends well but I’m in a new hell….“ in Ten Minute Version of “All Too Well,” to “Lover,” “All’s well that ends well to end up with you…“
ALSO from “BURNING REDDDD” in “Red” and thinking that love would be the color red, to shifting to “Daylight” – which is the most at peace we have seen her – “I once believed love would be (Burning red), But it’s golden…“
She also references the townhome she rented on Cornelia street [more than 30k a month btw lol] originally in “Delicate” – “3rd floor on the west side, me and you,” when she originally was meeting Joe around 2016, as well as mentions of the roof that existed on Cornelia street in “King of my Heart”.
- If people ever say Taylor acts like a victim always in her songs, you can really point at this album for the ending of that debate. “Afterglow” is definitely a song after a fight that she had caused [Should I bring up that Ed Sheeran also has a song called afterglow but it’s much more describing a holding onto a golden love that is fading but is still in sight].
“Cruel Summer” has those vibes too – but in “Afterglow,” it’s not sorry IF I hurt you.. it’s sorry THAT I hurt you. There are a few other songs on this album that do that too.
It’s all me in my head
I’m the one who burned us down
But it’s not what I meant
Sorry that I hurt you“Afterglow” – ‘Lover’
SO many lyrical parallels within her music – continuation of stories or correction of them – those are my favorite things to analyze. Or how she describes and writes colors for emotion. “No other blue would do,” like you can only experience true blue, true sadness, when it’s true love lost, which hadn’t been a color super frequent in her writing before ‘Lover,’ but it continues throughout the next two albums…
It also is a little speculated that somewhere in the lover era there was a break up between Taylor and Joe or something triggered her in sadness [maybe after the media found them out]– because she began to wear black to all of her concerts – even though its a pastel album. Which we know they are together now – but before this new look, her outfits were all rainbows and happiness and golden – and although her items were still pastel, her outfits were not – and something that Taylor has always done is express the era she is in or the next era she is writing in her clothing. So for a moment, she may have been grieving a pause on her relationship. Some of the screenshots I listed above could also be around this timing. But again, who knows. [Taylor invite me over for a secret session and a bottle of wine, we can talk about everything in secret, I’ll sign an NDA too, I promise] Due to the craziness of the internet speculating on her relationship, I understand why it took her and Joe so long to make their relationship public- don’t wanna ruin a good thing. So some of this black attire could be mourning it in that way too – pure happiness in hiding without the whispers of some fans and the internet/media.
Tracklist: Something I HAVE been thinking about lately is the order of ‘Lover,‘ as in, the track list. “I forgot that you existed,” one of my favorite songs and a hell of a way to start an album, has me whiplashed on who or what it is about. I think, like many of Swift’s songs, that some songs are about many people.
At first to me, it was about Scooter, but I honestly don’t think she could forget him in this effort to be constantly re-recording all of her old music. Again, best friend break ups HURT, and if she was romantically involved with Kloss, it would also hurt, too. I feel that this song IS about Kloss, friend or romantic set aside, because Tay didn’t even go to the girl’s wedding. Kloss went to one of her Rep tours, and we know Kloss burned her a bit, but Kloss would be easy to forget in terms of the future, moving on, and never having to cross her path again.
This song is followed by “Cruel Summer,” which people try to make a love song… but it’s just not. She’s basically crying, spilling her guts to this new human in her life, letting them know all of her secrets and vulnerable facts –
I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (oh)
Said I’m fine, but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (oh)
And I screamed for whatever it’s worth
“I love you, ” ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?
He looks up grinning like a devilCruel Summer – Taylor Swift
Like, let me tell you everything you need to know about my past so you hear it from me and not the media, but I love you? okay? Like a lot? He looks up and smiles… “okay.” 🙂
And then it’s followed by the song “Lover,” as all the bruises and scars have been healed and moving forward is the only option. “The Man” follows this but it’s clearly just a side note to the industry, followed by “Archer,” which musically is supposed to stir up anxiety, and lyrically as well – the beat never drops, the listener is waiting for something to drop but it just cycles and paces [she did this with “Out of the Woods,” as well].
Two Lyrics that show anxiety and her pain from her friends/past break ups in “Archer:”
I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost
The room is on fire, invisible smoke
‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends
Help me hold onto you
Again, I’m obsessed with this album. After those 5 songs, the following remain relatively focused on the music industry fucking her over, politics and her new voice within it publicly, and her love story – admitting she was in the wrong during some fights [“Afterglow”] and her new clarity in love [“Daylight”].
And with that, COVID brought us ‘Folklore.’
‘Folklore‘ is an interesting album to start – because it starts with “The One,” which honestly should have been THE single, but as you travel through the album, you realize “The One” should actually be put last [and it was written last, actually]… but how folktales actually start, you start with your current situation first, and then go on the journey of telling the story of how got you there.
The album is the pure definition of free song-writing. There may be instances of Taylor’s past in it, but for the most part we are given a trilogy of songs that go together [“August,” “Cardigan,” and “Betty,”], a song about the house she bought and her idea of the original owner [“The Last Great American Dynasty” please play this song when I die on repeat], and other songs that are just great on their own, but speak to Taylor on a closer level [I think].
“Mirrorball,” “This is Me Trying,” “Mad Woman,” “Hoax,” and “Epiphany” are the heavy hitters emotionally in ways Taylor hasn’t wrote about sadness. Intermix this line of sad narratives with “Invisible String,” that eventually connects us to “Willow” [‘Evermore’] and “Cardigan.”
Joe and Tay were really connected by an ‘Invisible String” because he went to the Met Gala with a friend as their plus one when the world had no idea who he was and with “his buzzcut and her bleach blonde hair” they ended up talking and reconnecting months down the road. But he was there and intermingled with her by chance.
It’s fun to think about Taylor writing about Joe in secret in ‘Reputation,’ to completely about their ups and downs in ‘Lover,’ to writing songs WITH him in ‘Folklore‘ and ‘Evermore.’
Gonna briefly lay this down about Mad Woman for a hot minute:
Now I breathe flames each time I talk
My cannons all firin’ at your yacht
They say, “Move on”, but you know, I won’t
And women like hunting witches, too
Doing your dirtiest work for you
It’s obvious that wanting me dead
Has really brought you two togetherMad Woman, ‘Folklore’ – – fuck you Scooter
Although ‘Folklore‘ and ‘Evermore‘ are two complete different albums, they do have some cinematic crossover. I just imagine “Mirrorball” taking place in the same exact room as “Right Where You Left Me.”
A sad dimly lit bar, with a disco ball ahead, everything blue and dingy, poorly lit and sad, expecting this mirrorball to light up the room and provide something new, some sort of glorious light, when it’s been collecting dust for quite some time. These songs both speak of moments of time and discusses when the spotlight shines: it’s so bright, but the moment the spotlight is off: it’s useless, outdated, and easy to ignore and over all: very alone. Swift speaks on “Mirrorball” in the Long Pond Sessions, and honestly I gained more of an appreciation for the song after she spoke about it.
Through all of her interviews, I think I gained an appreciation for a mundane life. To have the spotlight on you all of the time, to see even your fans speculate on your sexuality, relationships [or validity on them], to feel the demand from people to not mess up, to speak out always, or to see your fans argue about what album you put out that they hate the most has got to be exhausting. I feel that ‘Folklore‘ was really a fun time for her to SONG-WRITE and include inspiration from novels that she adored rather than to only talk about her own life personally. I also think this was incredibly needed for her next direction as an artist as she ages.
The song “Peace” is one I was thinking of for my recreation of my own shoot. This song is clearly the personal song for Taylor on this album. To see someone so bold question their own worth as a partner, constantly, is sad and surprising for me. However, I’ve been so surprised by women I grew up with who were nothing short of perfect [in my eyes] and beautiful, yet recently have heard them discuss their struggle with self worth and body acceptance… we’re all human, as is Taylor… so all of this really just humanizes her for me. “Peace” was the branch to ‘Evermore,’ because of its unique time signature changes – and it really sets the stage for the next album.
But I’m a fire, and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm
If your cascade ocean wave blues come
All these people think love’s for show
But I would die for you in secret
The devil’s in the details, but you got a friend in me
Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?“Peace” – ‘Folklore’
‘Folklore‘ gave us the stories, gave us “Peace,” but then fricken ended on “Hoax” after “Peace,” and I am still utterly trying to figure out why.
“Stood on the cliffside [a continuation of this is me trying???? maybe]
Screaming “Give me a reason”
Your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in
Don’t want no other shade of blue but you [JOE? YOU ARE BLUE]
No other sadness in the world would do
You know I left a part of me back in New York [this always sounded like a secret from her to who she is singing to, because of her long pond sessions interview, the people that know her deepest also know her secrets and how to cut her deepest]
You knew the hero died, so what’s the movie for? [who is the hero that is no longer there for her]
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart [thank you the media and friends who abandoned her this hurts to read]
You knew the password, so I let you in the door
You knew you won, so what’s the point of keeping score?
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart
But what you did was just as dark [and this is why I do not think this song is about Joe]
Darling, this was just as hard
As when they pulled me apart
My only one
My kingdom come undone
My broken drum
You have beaten my heart
Don’t want no other shade of blue But you
No other sadness in the world would do”“Hoax” – ‘Folklore’
Who left you in New York? What did they do? The media pulled you apart before ‘Reputation,’ they knew it, and they left any ways?? The fact there is this conniving part of this person she is singing to, leads me to believe there is no way this song is about Joe, and again, she is just an excellent writer, but this song sounds like it has to be decoded.
A lot of ‘Folklore‘ and ‘Evermore‘‘ is definitely a dig at Scooter, but he definitely wasn’t her only one or her kingdom – so this song to me is still a bit of a beautiful mystery.
But we know that the album story actually ends on “The One,” after “Hoax,” which is acceptance and forgiveness, and then, BAM, “Willow” comes on ‘Evermore‘.’ ‘Folklore’ seems to be the album with heartbreak, grief, longing, and confusion, while ‘Evermore,’ the sister album, seems to be the album about moving on and closure. Specifically because she ends it on ‘Hoax.” If we follow the thread of “The One,” being followed up after “Hoax,” then maybe we can see a step back in closure and joy of the reflection that leads us to ‘Evermore‘,’ and it’s idea of letting go of the things we cannot control or people we cannot make love us again.
“You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I’m begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans
That’s my man”Willow, “‘Evermore’
She starts with this song with “That’s My Man”, and then she proceeds to write the gayest album she has ever written, lol. [but really she includes many stories of Emily Dickinson and her forbidden love with a woman; “Ivy”]
So ‘Evermore‘,’ is my first and foremost favorite album. Musically; it is complex, lyrically; it is genius.
I firmly believe that Taylor Swift often recycles her stories from her past, retells them differently, and brings them into new albums. I don’t believe she is stuck in her past, I think she becomes better at telling stories and thinking about these moments in time that stood her still. So instead of fixating on songs that I LOVE like “Right Where You Left Me,” a better song that is very telling and personal on this album is “Time to Go.”
Many fans fixate on “Right Where You Left Me,” because of the reference of age of being 23 and in a stop-still moment in a bar where the character was broken up with – but I am far less interested in these speculated narratives because I do not think Swift is stuck in the past and I think some “fans” are reaching and placing their desired narrative onto a story that Swift has kind of told in other stories, too. However, when “Time To Go” came out, based on the titled, we all assumed it was going to be about her being done with music, marrying and have a child with Joe, and leaving the industry, but really it was an insight to her next moves.
Again, as a person a part of the LGBTQI+ community, I say this with the most love, but she hasn’t stated anything to the media in her own words besides denying her being apart of the community, and has very much created a wall with her verbiage in interviews about wanting to be an ally, so I will respect her on that. But sometimes, as I know I do and artists do, they just choose words, numbers, lyrics that will flow the song better melodically and lyrically, rather than factually.
As I mentioned before, she places a few lines in here about betrayal from her “sister” or best friend, which we all gather is Kloss. The second verse brings in this idea of the same type of pain people feel when they are married for 20 years but try to make it work for the kids, which her parents divorced during one of Swift’s hardest times personally, and this is a moment of understanding and grief for her parents. The last verse is directly aimed at Scooter, and honestly a lot of this album and in Folklore are too.
15 years, 15 million tears
Begging ’til my knees bled
I gave it my all, he gave me nothing at all
Then wondered why I left
Now he sits on his throne in his palace of bones
Praying to his greed
He’s got my past frozen behind glass
But I’ve got me“It’s Time to Go” – ‘Evermore’
15 years she was with Scooter and the label. These two stanzas speak so loudly and really explain this same heartache – he has her past albums, she cannot have them, they are frozen in time – but she has herself and her writings, she can reproduce them, but it is just not the same.
This shoot got complicated for me because I loved it all dearly.
I know I’m just a
Wrinkle in your new life
Would iron it out so nice
Guilty, guilty reaching out across the sea
That you put between you and me
But it’s fake
And it’s oh so unnecessary“Closure” – ‘Evermore’
‘Evermore‘‘ is seen as the closure album to the pain gushed open from ‘Folklore.’ The song closure for instance is loaded with a lot of pain, but a lot of feeling of moving on and acceptance. Around the time of writing ‘Lover’ Taylor said this in an interview:
“I’m still someone who is the first to apologize when I’m wrong,” she admits. “But I think I’m better at standing up for myself when I’ve been wronged. So, that’s something that I think also comes with growing up.”
‘You Don’t Have to Forgive and You Don’t Have to Forget’Taylor Swift
Taylor isn’t one to just let go. She has made it very clear if you wrong her she won’t forgive and forget, but she will move on and mend fences when and if she can. So ‘Evermore‘‘ is a big album to show this healing and growth. There are definitely parts of this album that are written for others, she mentioned in an Apple Podcast about her and Joe’s love for writing sad songs together.
The joke of the fans is that Taylor has forgotten about ‘Evermore,’ and honestly in this interview it kinda makes sense because I’m sure recording work distant from everyone, including BIG NAMED artists that you never get to vibe with IN the studio, makes it feel like ‘Folklore‘ and ‘Evermore‘‘ were the same exact album. So, she kind of talks about that in the interview above, how sometimes she forget it exists. But with ‘Evermore‘‘ being released immediately after ‘Folklore,’ and quickly re-releasing ‘Red,’ it definitely didn’t get the spotlight it deserved.
And the skeletons in both our closets
Plotted hard to mess this up
And the old men that I’ve swindled
Really did believe I was the one
And the ladies lunching have their stories about
When you passed through town
But that was all before I locked it down“Cowboy Like Me” – ‘Evermore’
Immediately when this album came out I fell in love with “Champagne Problems.” I remember watching her Live when the album came out and she was laughing and correcting people in her Q&A that the song was not in fact, about champagne. The interview above also talks about her joy she anticipates for everyone to sing “what a shame she’s fucked in the head,” during live performances. But that song has ultimately the best bridge ever written…
a normal person would probably write: We walked up to your truck, and I was cold so you gave me your jacket… but Taylor writes that line poetically –
I’ve stared at this bridge’s lyrics for awhile – feeling somewhat at home with it. Because we’ve all had these experiences growing up [honestly this is what ‘Evermore‘‘ is about].
You walk to the truck, and your person gives you their jacket and says… “well that was crazy,” as you realize your tight knit friends aren’t so tight any more – you’ve learned your lesson on what you can discuss and what is a hot button you shouldn’t push. They’ll carry on and replace the memories that you had, and recreate everything that will override the memories with you in it.
Your Midas touch on the Chevy door
November flush and your flannel cure
“This dorm was once a madhouse”
I made a joke, “Well, it’s made for me”
How evergreen, our group of friends
Don’t think we’ll say that word again
And soon they’ll have the nerve to deck the halls
That we once walked through
One for the money, two for the show
I never was ready, so I watch you go
Sometimes you just don’t know the answer
‘Til someone’s on their knees and asks you
“She would’ve made such a lovely bride
What a shame she’s fucked in her head, ” they said
But you’ll find the real thing instead
She’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred“Champagne Problems” – ‘Evermore’
So really, the dorm halls can be metaphorical or literal spaces. Life moves on and your person proposes but you just.. didn’t think it would be that easy to say no – [there is much speculation that this is a flashback to when Calvin Harris proposed to her and she said no] – but it could all be fictional, too [ah the beauty of art]
But anyways the following verse is really relatable – for many of us who have grown up and grown distant from people in our lives – and to be honest the whole vibe of ‘Evermore’ and ‘Folklore’ feels very small and home town like – these relationships we’ve kept forever fade, when we find out who we truly are, whatever that means individually.
Where’s that man who’d throw blankets over my barbed wire?
I made you my temple, my mural, my sky
Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life“Tolerate it” – ‘Evermore’
It’s no joke that ‘Evermore’ contains some of the most heart wrecking lyrics Taylor has ever put out… but if all of this is just folktale then damn she’s just a good writer. I do believe there are always pieces of her in every song she writes – because even some of the songs she has referenced that came from books or movies, she has stated a part of it called to her because she has felt similar feelings in her experiences.
Something I think about a lot from ‘Folklore’ is “The Last Great American Dynasty,” apparently Rebekah actually stole a cat and dyed it a key lime green, but Taylor likes cats too much so she changed the lyrics to dog [lol].
“And in a feud with her neighbour…
She stole his dog and dyed it key lime green.”
So even that song, about someone else, that shifts to be about her, because she bought that house that Rebekah lived in… and has aspects of her or somehow circles back to her. So even all of these other sad songs, have to be coming from a place of existence within her, or maybe Joe’s experiences, too.
It’s pretty hard to write solely about this album without ‘Folklore’ because they go pretty much hand in hand. Even their music videos cut and paste right where the other one left off. So there are many theories that the next album is going to be a continuation from the end of “Willow,” and if not completely, at least Taylor left her self cushion to do so if she wanted to…
There is a lot of speculation again and theories that Cardigan, Betty and August was actually written or inspired by Taylor Swift’s 17 year old self. So there is that too – but again – all only information she actually knows and damn I want her to write a book.
Maybe it’s the pandemic, the world…, depression, or maybe it’s just getting older but these last 3 years have been incredibly hard on everyone. I can honestly say, making these photoshoots happen, fixating on them, diving into theories of my favorite songwriter, placing passion into my work because of her – has made life exciting again.
Now that I have done all the albums in my vision – I am very sad [lol]. I wrote this blog over the course of 6 to 7 months, weekly checking and proofing it, adding more information that I think is valuable to my discussion, and it’s super lengthy but it’s been incredibly fun. It’s given me something to fixate on, a form of escapism… which is why in general, I think speculation can be interesting but it’s never factual.
I have listed a ton of things on here that are not confirmed, but they are fun to think about. But we must always remember that artists use art to escape. It’s been this way since the dawn of time. Just because we write narratives does not mean they are true. Just because we make a specific representation, doesn’t mean it’s ours. So I write this blog with the biggest love in my heart for one of my deepest loves in the pop culture world – because I see her as a human – and someone who is damn good at telling stories for money, for passion and for artistic relief. Never in my wildest dreams do I think Taylor will find my small art blog but if she does these words are for her:
Taylor Alison Swift:
You clearly have to know how much fans adore you. Obviously we range in loyalty, crazy, honest or overly speculative, so I can not speak for everyone but I can speak for me. Your words find the way into my life when I need them most. You have made me seek help for my eating disorder because of a purposely timed documentary that I watch frequently when I want to be happy and inspired, or when I want to cry [lol]. Your music and existence is more than just music – it’s a one sided, reliable friendship because whoever has left me in my life, your words have not. You have now inspired my art – which is a whole new joyous thing for me as a creator. Whether you continue or discontinue your career in the future is not my place to say, but as a friend I support everything you do. Thank you for doing what you think is best at all times – thank you for sticking up for LQBTQI rights and donating to causes in secret and in public – thank you for promoting love in all ways – and thank you for sharing your skills, abilities, and talents with the world when you don’t owe us shit.
Forever & Always
FUNNY FAN CONTENT
Tweets that just Hit.
NYU SPEACHES AND MOMENTS FOR DOCTOR TAYLOR SWIFT
Thank you to everyone who followed my Swift Series, read this blog, or stated kind words about my work. I will not be stopping this journey, as I have decided I will most likely be visualizing specific songs I love, as well as branching into visualizing Halsey’s music as well. I cannot wait for the next release of Taylor’s music and continue to add to my collection of images. I most likely, will be continuing a blog like this after her next things are released as well. As long as she is working, I too, will be working with inspiration by her.
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[…] hurt, they don’t have anxiety or depression [we know Tay and Joe are anxiety ridden people, if you don’t know read my longer blog post], we know speculation isn’t their favorite – because they’ve stated it over and […]
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