Continuing my Taylor Swift series, I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit. I love writing and reading art at a more detailed level than just the casual listener or viewer – so I decided to go through the lyrics of each song, dissect it and give factual interpretations of the art and what the lines could mean. Along with lyrical dissection I wanted to compose an image or a few [if applicable] for each song- as it translates in my head.
I do want to be clear – I am leaving speculation out of this as much as possible. There are some songs however that we know who it is about as she’s given that information. If she has given it, I will talk about it – but if it’s just speculation from the internet I’m going to leave well enough alone. As an artist I would be mortified if every piece of art I made people interpreted it as my own life story. Artists are inspired by friends, family, books, movies, and instances we’ve never felt. Even when she stated her songs are about her own life, that doesn’t mean autobiography – and everyone needs to be aware of this. Sometimes people change the lyrics to ‘I’ to make it more relatable to the viewer, even if the event happened to someone else.
I feel like more than ever, artists need people on their side showing a variety of perspectives and experiences that could be taken from their art. Due to TikTok and just a bunch of short-sided opinions on the internet going viral without much critical thinking at all – I thought this would be a great way to show some of that art interpretation possibility without encroaching on Taylor’s personal life. I think she would appreciate that, too. So although I may bring up instances that the lyrics could interpret to, I will remind my readers that doesn’t mean I am saying she is or had gone through some of these exact moments.
A New Era
First off, Midnights is like a beautiful child between 1989, Reputation and Lover, meet a child of the exploration of Folklore and Evermore. Without each and every one of these albums we would not have Midnights. Every era and album is so important to artists. Evermore and Folklore were extremely freeing for Taylor and proved to her she could experiment with sounds and still gain success.
Lavender Haze is the opener to Midnights – and in my own opinion, the best opener she has ever had in an album. Folklore and Evermore were released without a single and I think she loved how the sound surprised the fans because we had no idea what was coming – and she did it again for this album – and when I tell you I had a physical reaction to hearing it for the first time – I mean it, truly.
Taylor kindly gave us a little reel about what this song was about in totality, though each line, each thought and each detail of this album cannot be summarized in a minute. This was extremely kind for her to do and I honestly wish she’d do this with every song.
Meet me at midnight
The whole entire promotion for this album was literally ‘meet me at midnight’ so when I first heard these words, no lyrics in front of me, first time streaming at 12:01am on October 21st – my mouth opened and I gasped, real loud.
Staring at the ceiling with you
Oh, you don’t ever say too much
and you don’t really read into
I love her work so much because it’s so visual. Two people, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, talking or not. We know that ‘silence when to people understand each other, family that I chose now that I see your brother as my brother,’ comes from ‘Peace’ – so this is one of those times that the room could be filled with silence or discussion but the feeling in the room is just as full either way.
What I find fascinating about this verse, as a long time listener of Taylor [as of now going on 16 years], I would never associate Taylor with being Melancholia. I know that she loves making sad love and break up songs, but I guess I wouldn’t tie that to her – making her pessimistic. So this was interesting for listeners to hear as she identifies herself as that.
I was confused of why she wrote melancholia and not melancholy. I actually hate when people on the internet look up random words and find books from no name people that came out- like a month before an album drop [when the songs are already in production and reproduction] and claim she read some no named, no reviewed, small book – to crutch their narrative. HOWEVER, melancholia is actually a bigger movie staring Kirsten Dunst [of all people lol] in 2011, and the plot is that it’s the night of her wedding and it should be the happiest day of her life – but it isn’t. Its an extravagant wedding paid for by her family – but the reason why it isn’t the happiest day of her life is because there is a ‘blue planet’ or astroid headed towards the earth – and is an impending doom looming over her head – as their lives feel like they are about to end because of external sources. She should be at her happiest moment but she is absolutely in fear and unable to feel the full feelings she deserves to feel.
Relating that actual plot line to Taylor’s verse – the external factors that Taylor is linking to is not maybe a physical astroid or ‘blue planet’ but in fact external sources she cannot control. Just as we cannot control space, she cannot control tabloids – speculation – fans or non-fans rooting for her relationship to fail – and just, life? Life is messy and to be in their position with how she ‘doesn’t feel like a person [anti-hero]’ – that’s so tough.
But although she is panicking about these external sounds- “you don’t really read into my melancholia,” is saying that this person [Joe she has stated] doesn’t overwhelmingly panic about these things she says or worries about. He knows that she may be feeling the pressure or overthinking some things but doesn’t make a big deal about it. Maybe this was or has been an issue in the past – and I know personally for me, it has been. If you panic over these things and are not with someone who puts you at ease but in fact feeds into it —- it can create some dysfunctional chaos and argument. But she wants to feel the full force of their love. She wants to be at her happiest because she knows for once in her life is with someone trust worthy, who wants absolutely nothing but love from her, but she is unable to feel it all unless she is hidden away from the public and spectators.
i mean the girl cant even go on tiktok without probably hearing some ‘theory’ that she is in a relationship with her ex best friend in secrecy, or that she has a lost child somewhere hidden away.
I been under scrutiny
You handle it beautifully
All this shit is new to me
You have to read these lines actually together to get what she means. I[ve] been under scrutiny – maybe then, maybe now, but he handles it well without overreacting or leaving – and she is not used to someone handling her scrutiny so well. This kinda makes me think back to “and here’s to my baby, he aint reading what they call me lately,” in This is why we cant have nice things. She will constantly be under fire for anything that she does – that’s not new to her, what IS new to her, is someone understanding and not running to save their own face when she needs them the most.
I feel the lavender haze creeping up on me – surreal
Taylor addresses that the lavender haze she is referencing is a 1950s saying about falling in love. “A slang term coined during the ’50s, referring to being in love“
Surreal because she maybe hasn’t felt this exact type of patient, understanding love before. A love she has been writing about since she was 12 and didn’t know what being in love was – to being 32 and head over heels for someone who treats her like a real person.
I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say
If she cares about these voices, it’ll cause more chaos and it will cause to her not “leave well enough alone” [The 1]. In some of her other songs – either true or folktale – she references chopping her past relationships [or relationships, maybe not even hers] at the kneecaps by making deals of things that are not [The Archer]. If she cares about these external voices and let them fester into her relationship – then it can ruin something that is beautiful.
The 1950’s shit they want from me
I just wanna stay in that lavender haze
These set of lines were quite a time for me – because by referencing her use of lavender haze from the 1950s, yet also including that time period in her actual chorus, it’s like she setting the tone in this time period. No deal, they want her to marry up, stop working, have kids, and fall in love – but she is almost not allowed to work, be independent, fall in love and not feel the need to get married?
Im still stuck on no deal. what’s no deal? no deal that she doesn’t want the 1950s shit or she’s not making a deal with the public eye on her relationship? That could be. Her way – not ours [theirs].
All they keep asking me
is if I’m gonna be your bride
The only kinda girl they see
is a one night or a wife
This verse definitely sets the tone for the 1950s decade.. however not much has changed today. Women are notoriously asked when they are going to get a partner, a spouse, get married, have kids – it’s like we absolutely only exist for marriage and reproduction. Tabloids constantly speculate on women, and to this date Taylor has probably been ‘engaged’ like 75 times already [lol]. Men can date around and never get married but if women date and do not get married they are labeled as provocative or ‘slutty,’ or people make jokes they are running up close to their expiration date.
Either a one night gal who bounces around and is seen as bad – or a good girl and who gets married and commits to one person forever. Siri turn on, “The Man.” In this verse she kind of does reference The Man in a way. She’s been in a serious relationship for 6 years – and it’s still not good enough for them – and non-fans and the public still call her a serial dater as if they haven’t even tried to read up to date on her personal life and just repeating the same 2015/2016 bullshit we already went through.
I find it dizzying
They’re bringing up my history
But you weren’t even listening
Again this verse needs to be read together. It’s not that bringing up her history is dizzying to her, she’s used to that – what she is NOT used to is the fact he isn’t listening to it. “HE AIN’T READING WHAT THEY CALL ME LATELY [lol]. “How can you not care about where I’ve been?” This person has to be asking the other while staring at the ceiling, “because I care where we are going.”
Talk your talk and go viral
I just need this love to spiral
These two lines punch me deep. The way that I read it is mostly, her addressing those who write, tweet, TikTok, speculate about her love to get clicks, follows, likes and followers. Talk your talk – get the clicks – get the name dropping viral ‘hot takes,’ as the people doing these things do it in the name of, “I just need this love to spiral,” because it would prove their point that either her love isn’t real, or that she is a ‘serial dater’ and the problem is always her and not anything more complex than that.
The way this hurts me the most is I have personally had to stay off TikTok lately because of all of the speculation on her personal life. All art that is made doesn’t have to be linked to her personal life. This song she clearly stated was about Joe which is the only reason why I am mentioning him so much – but on songs without reason – I cannot and don’t feel comfortable assigning people to specific songs. However the amount of people that assign Joe as a faux relationship is wildly annoying. All in the name of placing narratives to fit their life, click bait for followers, but none of it is in the genuine desire of Taylor to be happy.
Get it off your chest
Get it off my desk
This is still addressing the fans/non-fans, writers, who ever –
Get what you need to say off your chest to make yourselves feel better, worthy, whatever
get it off my desk
I was confused of what this meant – specifically if it’s Taylor addressing someone else, I found that “When you get something off your desk, you move it along as quickly as possible.” So with these two lines together it’s kind of like say what you need to say and fricken move on, already.
As I’m writing these blogs I am going to try to not reference songs that come later on in the album to avoid confusion – but all of these songs are very interconnected. However, in going in order of the album I will build on information as we do when we listen through it. We move to the next song with more gathered information that may reference previous songs to give us further understanding of the current art we are digesting.
My Photo Replication
After reading and digesting these lyrics I wanted to create a space that felt guarded and hidden fro the world. She begins the song discussing laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and enjoying the mundane aspects of life. At home, even at the time of Reputation, she was hidden from the world and isolated with Joe [so she has told us]. My favorite video of her is one where she is playing “call it what you want” in slippers and a hoody, and at the end smiles and looks up and whispers “i love you” to the person holding the camera. [This is on my Reputation blog and my longer one discussing her journey as an artist].
This is a peace or love that she has never felt before and when the outside voices go away, so does the intrusive thoughts of it breaking their relationship. I wanted to photograph this in the dark because the dark has so many connotations of the unexpected. Our eyes don’t see as clearly, we’ve grown up with stories of the dark that scare us because of the things potentially lurking in the shadows. Outside of this lavender fabric, darkness awaits. The darkness contains hate, voices, speculation, and any one wanting to see you fail waiting for the chance to point out a small flaw.
I’ve always done album recreations or inspired photoshoots but never with myself and never just song by song. I already am loving this project and it’s interesting going through each song line by line and actually seeing the interpretation much differently than how some of the music videos are visualized. For this shoot I wanted a presence of someone else without the actual body of another. The next song I’ll be going through is “Maroon.” I hope to see you there ❤
Thank you for reading ❤
Big thanks to my best friends for letting me build a weird fabric tent in their backyard on a Thursday evening, my gal for clicking the camera for me as I sat in uncomfortable jeans, my spouse for hitting the fog machine every 2 minutes and my boy bff for the laughs through it all ❤