Here we are again in the middle of the night
We dance around the kitchen in the light of the refrigerator.
And just like that, Taylor Swift marries raw emotions with succinct poetic images that, to this day, enchant me. In “All Too Well” – the ballad to rule all ballads – Taylor manages to capture an intimate memory of the past with all the bitterness and tragic assumptions that accompany it. The song is a 2012 masterpiece that enveloped me with age, as if I was entangled in the old scarf left by Taylor. Taylor’s ex-lover kept this scarf on, and it reminds them of “innocence.” It’s something that smells familiar, that you can’t get rid of, that lingers on.
Since the days of red to the reissue of IntrepidTaylor’s music grappled with the intricacies of innocence, reminiscent of a simpler American youth. She constantly remembers the good old days, whether in the form of past love or forgotten facets of her young self. She’s lost the wide-eyed, bushy-haired girl who took the country music world by storm with “Tim McGraw”. Now, Taylor’s image is often closer to a raw wax figure (courtesy of the USU) that has made its way to the top and is desperate to be knocked down. But his music holds a curtsy, a desire, a aspiration for the simplest times, for helpless authenticity, for innocence. Aspiration? Sappho, eat your heart.
There is no such thing as a weird yearning: long stares, dancing body crush, a swirling friendship with your ex’s ex’s ex. What about a teenage girl realizing she’s weird? It’s a wake-up call from innocence to understanding, often involving a not-so-pleasant realization of exactly how badly the world wants to knock you out. Growing up, Taylor’s lyrics opened up to stories about other people and the possibility of queer interpretation. I’m not saying the rumors surrounding Taylor and a certain Victoria’s Secret Angel are true; to me that matters a lot less than the ability for queer exploration to take place in some of Taylor’s best lyrics.
I see queer girls in songs that reflect a troubled longing for youth. He is captured in “seven,” with his fairy-tale images of seven-year-old girls playing together. Taylor sings about the tenuous aspect of memory, where she “can’t remember” her friend’s face, although she still loves it. She then takes us right back into the mind of her imaginary seven-year-old being, moving from the past to the present to tell children stories of haunted houses and pirates. But it’s a haunting melody: there are monsters out there. Her friend’s father is “still crazy” and they have to “hide in the closet”. Taylor imagines her friend in a free space of reality monsters, instead making a house in a folk song.
In Taylor’s memories of past friendships, the lines between friendship and love are often blurred. I find myself going through the songs, dispersing myself according to Taylor’s lyrics in order to find the connections. If I put ‘this is the fucking season’ and ‘dorothea’ together, I see two girls singing to each other, one who made it big in Los Angeles and one who gets stuck in the same small town, fondly remembering her friend or crush, skip the ball and meet under the bleachers. “This is the fucking season” captures the specific kind of gloom that hangs around the holiday season like holly branches: a return from Los Angeles, wondering what could have been, where two people “sleep half asleep. the day just for old in love of time. The old days are echoed in one of Taylor’s most underrated songs, “It’s Nice To Have A Friend,” where the two friends / lovers “stay in bed all weekend.” The song has a stealthy delicacy – there’s something gloriously tender about the lyrics “something gave you the courage to touch my hand.” It’s a song with an innocent face that has so much more to say if you dig a little deeper; a song about the teenage connection.
In Without fear (Taylor version), we come to capture our memories of the original album and our lives around it with the added wisdom of hindsight. By giving us room to be queer, Taylor opens up too Intrepid at the reinterpretation and listening to “Fifteen”, I reflect on the friendship, the innocence of high school, and just not knowing who you are meant to be. “Fifteen” ends with a classic Taylor movement: ending a song with the same lyrics as the first line, as if to reflect on the truth of his lyrics, on times gone by, on the circularity of it all. Over time, words and moments have changed their implications, and something soft impenetrable is lost.
Take a deep breath as you walk through the doors.
God, I love Taylor Swift.