There have been so many Taylor Swift album anniversaries lately, but the latest one is six years of 1989, which absolutely blows my mind. 1989 is probably one of Taylor's most iconic albums and certainly an album that defined the 2010s. It was also her biggest album to that date and catapulted her fully to her place among music industry icons. 1989 is also personally significant because it was the time I became a full fledged Taylor Swift fan. I still wasn't on the internet at that time, but I dove into her whole catalogue, fell in love with 1989, and begged the whole summer leading up to the tour for tickets to see Taylor. I think I was 12. Outside of Disney stars, Taylor was my first taste of true fandom, though I did spend a long time feeling like I was on the outside of some giant insider thing with Taylor because I didn't really know what Tumblr was, and I wasn't on Twitter either. Still, Taylor had a magic that hooked me in and an approachable feeling even as she stood in glittering outfits on a massive stage. That night reminded me just how much I love concerts and cemented my eternal love for Taylor Swift. (I've included some of the better pictures I got that night (mostly off the screen)from my one magical night in the world of 1989. By the time Reputation came around, I was a full fledged fan and a member of the internet. That was truly my era, but 1989 was the start, and it remains one of her most significant pieces of work. A turning point.
So I guess this means I've been a Swiftie for six years now, even though I've liked her music since "You Belong With Me". Here are all my favorite lyrics from one of the best album of all time.
"Welcome to New York"
Everyone loves to dismiss this opener, but it's a bop. The second I actually get to move to New York, this will be playing in my earbuds nonstop. Everyone misses it, but Taylor has been including LGBTQIA people in her lyrics since this song. It wasn't a new thing when Lover rolled around.
Walking through a crowd, the village is aglow/Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats
When we first dropped our bags on apartment floors/Took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer
Everybody here was someone else before/And you can want who you want/Boys and boys
and girls and girls
I don't give the singles enough credit. We've all heard them so many times that I think the impact dulls after a while. But "Blank Space" is pure genius. Few people have the self awareness to satirize the media's perspective of them, and even fewer artists have the talent to pull it off. Taylor got the last laugh here.
Magic, madness, heaven, sin
So hey, let's be friends/I'm dyin' to see how this one ends
You can tell me when it's over, mm/If the high was worth the pain
Cause we're young and we're reckless/We'll take this way too far/It'll leave you breathless, hmm/Or with a nasty scar
Cherry lips, crystal skies
Rose garden filled with thorns
But you'll come back each time you leave/'Cause, darling, I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream
I honestly wrote this song off for way too long because I didn't love the music video. That was a mistake. Taylor manages to completely capture classic in a song. And I think about the kind of relationship she described when explaining the song during press daily. The kind of relationship that's doomed to fail, but you'll always wonder about. That you might dump your spouse at the alter for if they showed up at your wedding. It's such a fascinating trope. Also, this song has an interesting amount of introspection and acceptance of a relationship that isn't a fairytale. She finds beauty in that. I love that bit of dialogue she includes.
Midnight/You come and pick me up, no headlights
You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
So it goes/He can't keep his wild eyes on the road
I say, "I heard, oh/That you've been out and about with some other girl"/Some other girl/He says, "What you heard is true, but I/Can't stop thinking 'bout you," and I/I said "I've been there too a few times
"Out of the Woods"
Most days, this is my favorite Taylor Swift song of all time, and it's a prime example of how specific details win every time. Have I ever been in a snowmobile accident with my on and off again boyfriend? No. I've never dated anyone, but when I hear that bridge, I feel a new level of emotion. As repetitive as the chorus is, the verses are so ridiculously rich.
Looking at it now/It all seems so simple/We were lying on your couch/I remember
You took a Polaroid of us/Then discovered/The rest of the world was black and white/But we were in screaming color
Are we in the clear yet? In the clear yet? Good
We were built to fall apart/Then fall back together
Your necklace hanging from my neck/The night we couldn't quite forget/When we decided, we decided/To move the furniture so we could dance
Baby, like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying
Remember when you hit the breaks too soon?/Twenty stitches in a hospital room/When you started crying, baby, I did too/But when the sun came up, I was looking at you
Remember when you couldn't take the heat?/I walked out and said, "I'm setting you free"/But the monsters turned out to be just trees/When the sun came up, you were looking at me
"All You Had to Do Was Stay"
This is an underrated 1989 bop with some deep lyrics that get missed far too often. It also continues the motif through this album of driving (particularly bad driving). I can't believe this song came out of a dream where all Taylor could say was that high pitched "stay" from the chorus.
People like you always want back/The love
they gave away/And people like me wanna believe you/When you say you've changed
All I know is that you drove us/Off the road
Then, why'd you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?
Well, it could've been easy/All you had to do was stay
I've been picking up the pieces/Of the mess you made
But people like me are gone forever/When you say goodbye
You ended it/You were all I wanted/But not like this
"Shake It Off"
If we're being honest, this is my least favorite song on 1989, but it's still tons of fun. And I love the video. Taylor being fun and goofy is always appreciated. I think the last six years of it getting played at every event is understandable but still a little bit like "Taylor has so many other good songs".
It's like I got this music in my mind/Saying it's gonna be alright
I'm dancing on my own/I make the moves up as I go
"I Wish You Would"
This is the other 1989 song that I wished more people talked about. It has another brilliant story. Taylor talks about her ex who bought a house not far from hers, and after the break up, he'd drive past her house at night, and she always wished he'd just stop and apologize. The song tells it so well and makes a perfect other side to "All You Had To Do Was Stay". I also love how the construction of this song has a shifting chorus, a bridge, and a third verse.
It's 2AM in your car/Windows down, you pass my street, the memories start
You say it's in the past, you drive straight ahead/You're thinking that I hate you now/Cause you still don't know what I never said
Wish you knew that/I'd never forget you as long as I live
We're a crooked love in a straight line down/Makes you want to run and hide/But it makes you turn right back around
I wish you would come back/Wish I never hung up the phone like I did
Wish you knew that/I miss you too much to be mad anymore
You always knew how to push my buttons/You give me everything and nothing
But it made us turn right back around
This song is so much fun, and I love it live. It's one I don't listen to often now, but I will watch the video from time to time. The peak of the girl squad, despite how that turned out in the end, is so 1989.
You made a really deep cut/And baby, now we've got bad blood, hey!
Salt in the wound like you're laughing right at me
Did you think we'd be fine?/Still got scars on my back from your knives
Band-aids don't fix bullet holes
You say sorry just for show/If you live like that, you live with ghosts
This is a Taylor song I think everybody likes. It's like a cousin to "Style" in the sense that it's so smooth and classic. It's dreamy and sweet, but bittersweet, which is what I think makes it so good.
I thought, "Heaven can't help me now"/Nothing lasts forever
I can see the end as it begins
Say you'll see me again/Even if it's just in your/Wildest dreams
You'll see me in hindsight, tangled up with you all night/Burning it down
"How You Get The Girl"
This song is such a sweet instruction manual. I also love how each pre-chorus progresses through that's that's how you lost the girl, how you get the girl, that's how you got the girl. It's the whole progression of winning her back. I also love how Taylor is talking about her own experiences in the third person.
Say it's been a long six months/And you were too afraid to tell her what you want
Broke your heart, I'll put it back together/I would wait forever and ever
Tell her how you must have lost your mind/When you left her all alone/And never told her why, why
I get that songwriting is a form of poetry, but this one just sounds like poetry. As much as I love direct Taylor who's throwing you into her memories, I also love soft, etherial Taylor who takes a step back and creates an impressionist painting to summarize the whole journey of this album. There are so many powerful lines.
Skies grew darker/Current swept you out again/And you were just gone and gone, gone and gone
In silent screams and wildest dreams/I never dreamed of this
This love is good, this love is bad/This love is alive back from the dead
These hands need to let it go free, and/This love came back to me
Tossing, turning/Struggled through the night with someone new
Lantern, burning/Flickered in my mind, only you/But you were still gone, gone, gone
Been losing grip, on sinking ships/You showed up just in time
This love left a permanent mark
This love is glowing in the dark
When you're young, you just run/But you come back to what you need
"I Know Places"
This is the production masterpiece of the album. The track is infused with the anxiety of her words, and the record click bookending it leaves the reader with a sinking feeling. Taylor thinks she can outrun the press, but even in her own song, she's been caught again. They know her plan. Also, the fact that this lyric matches her super cute fox sweater she wore at the time makes me love it more.
You stand with your hand on my waistline
Love's a fragile little flame, it could burn out/It could burn out
They are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run
Lights flash and we run for the fences/Let them say what they want, we won't hear it
Loose lips sink ships all the damn time/Not this time
Just grab my hand and don't ever drop it, my love
And you know for me, it's always you
In the dead of night, with your eyes so green
This song is the perfect closer. It's sonically cohesive, but it also feels fresh. And the song has so many different powerful interpretations. I think we've all had an experience we want to be clear from, and this song is the perfect soundtrack to that journey.
When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst
You're still all over me/Like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore
Hung my head as I lost the war/And the sky turned black like a perfect storm
When I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe
When the butterflies turned to/Dust that covered my whole room
The water filled my lungs, I screamed so loud/But no one heard a thing
Ten months sober, I must admit/Just because you're clean, don't mean you don't miss it
Now I'm off the read all the stuff on Genius about it because, somehow, I still haven't done that.
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