Over the last year I listened to a LOT of Taylor Swift. So much so that she was one of my top artists in Spotify wrapped, but that doesn’t even account for the amount of time I spent listening to her on Apple Music, Youtube, and via her documentaries on Disney+ and Netflix. I spent hours watching and rewatching the Folklore Longpond Studio Sessions on Disney+, because I loved hearing the behind the scenes on how she and co-collaborators Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, and everyone’s favorite undercover boyfriend William Bowery came together to make Folklore what it was lyrically and musically.
After hearing all about the intentions behind songs like “Peace” and “My Tears Ricochet” I was hooked. I started spending a lot of my time listening to all of Taylor’s discography and sending her lyrics back and forth with one of my good friends who has been a long time fan of Taylor to unpack what each of the songs mean, what easter eggs are hidden within the songs, and how they relate to my life personally.
I think one of the best things about Taylor Swift is the way she makes music that feels so personal and yet ambiguous enough for people to draw their own conclusions, relate to their own lives, and make the music their own in some way. Today, I thought it would be fun to break down some of the lyrics I relate to and love for their genius, so, here are some of my favorite Taylor Swift lyrics!
“Tolerate It,” Evermore
I wait by the door like I’m just a kid
Use my best colors for your portrait
Lay the table with the fancy shit
And watch you tolerate it
If it’s all in my head, tell me now
Tell me I’ve got it wrong somehow
I know my love should be celebrated
But you tolerate it
The reason I love these lyrics so much is because they perfectly describe the way it feels to be in a relationship where you are not valued, where you feel like your love is wasted and unappreciated. It feels like coming to the realization that someone you hold with so much respect and priority isn’t doing the same for you. It’s the way you feel crazy when you ask for reciprocation from someone who doesn’t even see how amazing you are. How could they match your energy when they don’t know what’s in front of them? To me, “Tolerate It,” is the last straw. It’s the anxiety you feel before ripping the band-aid and moving on to something better, something that wants you back and won’t let you forget it.
2. “The Man,” Lover
When everyone believes ya
What’s that like?
I’m so sick of running as fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I feel like a lot of women can relate to these lyrics, and I am no exception. Sometimes I look around and wonder how we got here and then I remember we live in a patriarchy. Downside: the patriarchy is alive and well and the fight for our rights to our own bodies, equal pay, basic safety, and respect is still on, but at least we have a Taylor Swift song to numb the pain.
3. “My Tears Ricochet,” Folklore
We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
This song as a whole is just earth shattering. The reason I like these specific lyrics is because I think it’s a powerful way to say that we never know how our relationships will pan out. The same people we love can end up being the people who hurt us most deeply. I think the comparison of throwing stones with an engagement ring really captures the way that the people closest to us can sometimes be the ones who know exactly how to hurt us, and use the same exact things they used to praise about us and twist them into something different, something ugly, and aim it directly at us, knowing precisely where to hit us where it counts the most.
But there’s robbers to the east, clowns to the west
I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best
But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standing with me
Hearing Taylor talk about this song during the Longpond Studio Sessions made me love it even more. If you haven’t seen the Disney+ documentary yet, you need to go watch RIGHT NOW, but let me just say this: Taylor talks about how in life, there’s always going to be things you can’t control, and it can be scary to ask the people you love and care about to face those things with you. I knew that there were always going to be things said about me that I couldn’t control, and my boyfriend would inevitably be associated with those things. I was worried he wouldn’t want to be with me because of it, but ultimately, he didn’t care—he knows who I am, and he knows who he is, and whatever we face, we face it together. All I can do is treat him well, nurture our relationship, and he does the same.