I am going to focus on this lyrics only of this song for this blogpost, I have created an entirely different blog about the Anti-Hero Music Video. This SONG in general is extremely loaded with metaphors and deep theories about the self – so I’d like to focus on that first.
I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser
Midnights become my afternoons
The more I listen to these songs the more I start to see the metaphors laid out before us. The first line I see more of ‘I make the same mistakes over and over no matter how many times I’ve been burned or have seen I chose the wrong things.’ Although aging may be apart of that, lessons that we thought we learned keep presenting themselves in new choices – but we choose the wrong things.
Midnights become my afternoons. I’ve seen a few people online question this line and I think it could mean a multiple different things. Afternoons are pretty normalized in regards to activity of a human being. Midnights have always had a negative connotation to them – and if they become afternoons then it’s saying the idea of being awake, functional or full of questions and anxiety during this time is normalized. She doesn’t sleep at this time because she’s wide awake, thinking about things that make her feel uncomfortable.
I always think about what us millennials have been taught while aging and that’s simply that “nothing good happens after midnight.” Sometimes we irrationally text someone, say yes to something we should have said no to, or run into people that encourage us to make a bad choice.
When my depression works the graveyard shift
All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room
In thinking about other albums I’m pretty sure this is the first time Taylor has mentioned, straight forward that she has depression. We definitely get the vibes and storyline in the Archer, and we see other aspects of anxiety PRESENTED in Out of the Woods but nothing straight forward like, “hey, I’m a sad B,” and this album is full of honesty. From Lavender Haze referencing melancholia to this line saying how her depression kicks in at night – it’s really relatable.
Second line; Ghosting people. Witty to use the idea of the invisible as visible in the phrase of ghosts and physically haunting us. At night she thinks about the people who aren’t there for her any more – whether that was her doing or theirs. There is a part of me that also sees Taylor acknowledging her faults in her life, but also that some of her problems aren’t actually her doing. I think it’s a bit harsh to say that every relationship has ended solely because of one person – and I do think that in her music video it targets this more – but I will talk about that in my next blog.
but at night she is kept up by the thought of those people who once were close to her, that fill up her mind but not physically in any space any more.
I should not be left to my own devices
So this line could be taken a few ways. As a common phrase it means: to allow (someone) to do what he or she wants or is able to do without being controlled or helped by anyone else.
Meaning I shouldn’t be able to make my own decisions when it comes to ______ this topic.
But also quite literally we know that sometimes technology and our reactions to things guide us in the wrong way. There are many people I know that are serial reactors, that react without thinking through things and cause their own havoc. Instead of taking a moment to breathe through it, think big thoughts and then respond, they react initially and say things that make matters worse.
They come with prices and vices
I end up in crises
In song form this line is fun to sing, in poetry I don’t know where to stop the sentence.
With the previous line however, I interpret this as my decisions come with ‘prices’ meaning consequences – but vices definition wise means: immoral or wicked behavior. So – translated deeper, I shouldn’t be able to make my own decisions based on the irrational thoughts I have had, because they create consequences for me and cause me to ‘behave’ immorally [though I think more metaphorically than actually immorality] – I end up in trouble. I see the immorally as more mean or blaming other people that maybe didn’t deserve it.
Tale as old as time
Tale as old as time is an interesting line because if you do a small google search it’ll come up ‘Beauty and the Beast.” From the music video representation this is so interesting – from a lyrical standpoint – based on where this line is – it reads as if her day self and night self are in a fued. There is rational Taylor [narrator] and panic Taylor at night. But because midnights have become her afternoons, it’s hard to tell which one is right.
I wake up screaming from dreaming
Again, because midnights are afternoons – are these “daymares” or “nightmares?”
One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving
‘Cause you got tired of my scheming
For the last time
So this part seems VERY current. It feels like her fears are coming alive – she’s scared that she’ll wake up and someone close to her now will leave, just like all of the others. I won’t jump ahead to tracks but she mentions this later on in the album creating the full circle of perspective. She’s terrified that this new life experience will turn into another ghost haunting her in her moments of depression and anxiety.
I’m the problem, it’s me
in the past, there were [and sometimes still are] so many gross articles about “maybe Taylor is the problem and not all the [toxic] men she has been with?!?” This line seems to come in reaction to those voices. Taylor has had such a hard time doing the same shit other people do as human beings [date] and even be recognized as successful because she was found so young. Adults have had a ‘hard time’ admitting they liked her, her success is constantly undermined by people thinking that others deserve awards more, and her normal dating experience is blown up and positioned as she is a problem because people don’t stay with her.
It’s interesting she uses ‘teatime,’ because that’s an afternoon event, and it shows she’s been in England for some time [lol]. One of my friends did point out she interpreted this as ‘spilling the tea,’ and gossip time, which is probably more accurate hahaha but I’m sticking to my England interpretation.
I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror
This line hurts.
I’ll look at all areas, including the thing that is most dangerous [to my vision] but not at myself. It can’t be me.
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero
This line to me… is to her fans. It is an acknowledgement that she is a human, she will make mistakes, she will mess up – and it’s okay to call her out for her mistakes – you do not have to go to war for her.
Maybe I’m too deep into this fandom, but Taylor to me has been so unproblematic that It’s hard for me to take this line to heart. I get we all make mistakes but I am also not one to advocate for cancel culture unless someone does something so hateful. Being openly racist, homophobic, things along those lines – deserve to be cancelled, but someone doing something with good intentions and it being interpreted poorly is not worth hate. It’s the only way we learn and grow.
So I don’t know, Tay, it’s not exhausting to root for you, because although you’ve made mistakes – you have a right to – and none of them have been mistakes made from pure malicious ideology.
Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby
This line got so much flack and misunderstanding but it’s a 30 Rock reference.
Line from article: In season 5 episode 16 of the show, titled “TGS Hates Women,” Tina Fey‘s character Liz Lemon hires a female comic named Abby (Cristin Milioti) as an addition to the writers’ room to combat claims of misogyny at the show, but is put off by Abby’s style and demeanor. In a hilarious moment between the two women, Liz confronts Abby about her childish look and baby voice, telling her, “You can drop the sexy baby act.” To which Abby memorably responds, “The sexy baby thing isn’t an act… I’m a very sexy baby.” Source
But another interpretation of this is: newer, younger people are being introduced to the world [music industry] while she is aging and in Hollywood’s definition – getting old and ‘outdated.’ Now this is far from the truth but it’s hard to rid these narratives when you have been told them since you were 13. Siri Play Nothing New
And I’m a monster on the hill
I heard this the first time and couldn’t help but think about the hill being Hollywood. The monster is her career – she’s one of the biggest producers in the music industry and everyone’s success is compared to hers.
Too big to hang out
Hang on let me cry.
This line hurt me so much.
This album is heavily revolving around the experience of a celebrity. I think what has always hurt me – specifically as I began to watch celebrities and public figures in the pandemic – is the idea of the common person reducing celebrity depression into nothing because they have money. As we know from many celebrities who have died by their own hand – depression, anxiety, loneliness doesn’t go away with a nice house. Again the reason I get so mad about the ‘Joe is poor” narrative from “Paper Rings” and other songs, is because money isn’t shit. People wanting you for your money, is actually probably a large fear for her.
Recently I became good friends with Danielle, from Love is Blind. We text almost every day. I’ve hung out and photographed her twice now and. we have future plans. She’s actually my friend. It’s been weird watching shit she goes through and the pure amount of anxiety she faces from articles being published, comments made, etc. Danielle isn’t even an ‘A List” celebrity but seeing this speculation on her kills me. Seeing all of the bad takes, misinformed stories is hard for me – and even harder for her.
So I think about this one personal instance and have so much empathy for bigger artists who got into music and art simply because they loved it – only to be stabbed in the back by those they thought were friends – those who want name dropping clout – or – being too big in society that doesn’t allow you TO exist as a normal human.
The beautiful think about being a nobody is we can go where we want in peace. No photos of us unannounced. No news people following us to buy toilet paper. We don’t have to dress up just to go to the store – there are some beautiful things about being unknown.
Slowly lurching toward your favorite city
Pierced through the heart but never killed
I kind of feel this is a ‘King Kong” reference in the way that people see her as this monster coming to destroy everything. She feels like she’s too big to talk to normally, too big to have normal relationships, and in an archer reference [music video] we get this Taylor who is hurt but never taken down.
Did you hear my covert narcissism
A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance and who lacks empathy toward others, but may act in a different way than an overt narcissist.
I don’t think Taylor lacks empathy in any capacity, but she does crave admiration and affirmation. We know this simply even due to her own documentary where she states it.
I might disguise as altruism
Altruism: the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
Like some kind of congressman
Congressmen: see above [lol]
Ok but seriously the first time one of my friends and I were texting about this song. we pulled up these three lines. There are actually, many moments, where Taylor has remained silent on big topics, even within her own fandom, yet speaks about other topics less controversial. Honestly, she doesn’t owe us anything, but basically she picks and chooses what she discusses – just as a politician.
There are some moments I wish she would clarify some things between our fandom just to simply rid some of the toxicity based on conspiracy theories… but it wouldn’t be in her best interest to do so based solely on business numbers.
The music video gives us a REALLY good visual of these three lines together but I’ll get to that later. However, in just hearing this song first my mouth dropped – as she basically admits there has been moments where in the name of her own affirmation she ‘played the part’ to get the votes from the people.
Tale as old as time
… so it goes.
I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money
She thinks I left them in the will
The family gathers ’round and reads it
And then someone screams out
“She’s laughing up at us from hell!”
So the music video gives us a different example of this, as her ‘family’ in reference to the fandom – but lyrically – it reads more about her being fearful of even the closest people to her wanting something from her.
This song actually is The Archer 2.0 – its creating narratives that may not exist – and in this instance currently do not exist. She’s creating nightmares that aren’t even true because she doesn’t even have children. This song shows her being the problem – but it’s her being the problem due to others mistreating her. In her past she has been burned by people wanting things from her. Even in this moment of fame I wonder how she feels about marrying someone just in case they ARE doing it for money.
Those closest to her, kill her, for her money, and although she notoriously leaves ‘clues,’ she leaves them nothing – but more importantly, she leaves them nothing because she has no initial trust any ways. However, if she is killed for money it proves her point right that she was right in never trusting them in the first place.
Honest feels about this song and album
This album feels like a direct insight into her brain – the hardest part of it all is watching people misinterpret or just create narratives that are so intensely shallow and limited based on their small experiences. The moment Taylor put out the explanation of Lavender Haze, asking others not to speculate, that’s what they did immediately. Instead of seeing how these songs relate to us, people still speculate on who these songs are about.
This album, and specifically this song, hit at the core of a lot of us with anxiety and self-loathing experiences. There are so many things that creep up to me in the middle of the night that I wish I could go back and change… and not because I am in love with any of these people any more but because of how I must have made some people feel. We sometimes self-sabotage but sometimes our decisions later are based on our burns from the past. Put you in jail for something you didn’t do [Afterglow].
This song is kind of a series of all of her songs in one. The anxiety creeping up from past burns that sneak their way into our current situations – Archer – The admitting of these wrongs because of a realization that it’s not them that caused it – Afterglow – The fear of losing the one you love because of your mistakes or them not being able the tolerate the exterior hate – Lover & New Years Day – and this entire album showing the loneliness and distrust that happens even if you carry the music industry on your back. Sometimes money isn’t enough. This is our life – we get to surround ourselves with those that cherish us – but what if those people are hard to find genuinely?
We’re rooting for you, Anti-Hero. Because you never deserved hate.
The Photo Representation
Theoretically, I was thinking all the ways people project things onto others.
There are a lot of things that people project onto the those they “love,” without thinking about those words affecting those people. Most of these times the projection of narration, stories, fantasies, and words are not correct and can be super harmful. We place people onto pedestals and think of them as untouchable, both with our words and of their mistakes.
In my image, I didn’t necessarily need or want every single word to be read, but I did want a variety of words that I have read about her in this image as those projections. I’m not sure what is people’s obsession with speculation on celebrities sex life, love life or personal life, but it really is exhausting.
However in relation to this song – I do feel like people constantly put Taylor on a pedestal and are either mad at her for not rising to their projected expectations or think that she cannot do any wrong. Recently with tour and the Ticketmaster debacle, a lot of fans are pretty mad and put too much of the blame on her, while others claim that she is completely innocent in it all. I do think that some things like Loverfest ticket holders being priority for first pre-sale, or making sure scalpers were taken seriously could have been handled better by her team but as for the actual drop of the ball of the website crashing, presale codes not being programmed correctly, and bots getting through the lines thats obviously the blame is and should be placed on Ticketmaster. So I think there is a push and pull on blame and realistic understanding of what is in the control of an artist.
In the end of this all, I understand this is Taylor’s job to create art. So to take her lyrics to heart and assign them to her personal life is insane – but also to think that she creates work because she loves us and not because she wants a paycheck is also insane. Artists write things to be related to – and are inspired by things in their life like books, friends, movies, poetry. If an artist is good they can story tell an event or time they have never personally experienced – and it’s beautiful to write things that can be interpreted through all lenses, but it’s not so great to project those specific interpretations as the only interpretation that exists and place them onto the artist. In the end Taylor has to make money, so creating art that all can identify with is a really smart way to do that. I think every song has an influence from her life or an aspect of it, but I think it’s really hard to say what her true position is in every song, ya know?
Any ways, I really do love this song and it’s meaning, however the more remixes that come out the more I do think she is kind of removed from her own words. haha.
Thank you for reading. ❤
“I make the same mistakes over and over no matter how many times I’ve been burned or have seen I chose the wrong things.” Taylor has seen into all of our brains, it’s confirmed.