The Essential Taylor Swift

30 Dec

I started this post many moons ago, after talking to a friend about Taylor Swift, her impressive skill as a songwriter (she’s a far better writer than singer, I recognize that) and how much I love her. Many of her songs have helped me through some of the most angsty and quintessential Teenage Girl moments of my life. These are some of my favorites and why they matter to me. Yes, this is a super fangirly post. Sorry about it.

Tim McGraw – Taylor Swift

Okay, this one’s obvious. The first Taylor song I heard. It was on the radio and I Googled her and couldn’t find much. I tried to use Pandora to find more songs like it because I loved it so much and Pandora didn’t know who Taylor Swift was, which is proof that I was a Taylor Swift hipster. So this is a very important introduction to T Swizzle.

Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift

Unrequited love. When I heard this song at 16, it was just incredible to me that someone as amazing as Taylor had felt the same way I did. I had a boy just like “Drew” in my life and this song helped me get through that. A lot of her songs helped me get through that. We’re going to refer to him as Drew throughout this.

Also, fun fact: the Drew of this song actually ended up married to the other girl he was dating at the time. If my internet stalking three years ago was correct, their wedding website was titled, “Behind the Teardrops.”

Stay Beautiful – Taylor Swift

This is pretty underrated. And any time someone says Taylor is too overdramatic this is one of my favorite songs to point to. A good line: “When you find everything you looked for / I hope your love brings you back to my front door / oh, but if it don’t / stay beautiful.”

It’s that whole idea of someone awesome that you would love to be with but it’s not going to work out and you just wish them the best. I actually sent a link of this song to someone once, a really great guy, where there were some sort of feelings on both sides and there was absolutely no way we were going to be together. That was quite a while ago now, he’s doing great, and I’m very happy for him.

I’m Only Me When I’m With You – Taylor Swift (Deluxe)

This is another personal favorite. I rediscovered it freshman year of college and I’ve always thought of it more as a friendship song than a relationship song. To me, it described the Honors “family” I found that year. I finally found a place where I could be entirely myself and it was such an incredible feeling. This song reminds me of how wonderful that feeling was every time.

You Belong With Me – Fearless

Who hasn’t fallen for their best friend? This was also a “Drew” song to me. We spent so much time together and yet he never seemed to see how I felt and it was SO. HARD. And there’s no happy ending, unlike in her (adorable) music video. But this song is so perfect and relatable to the high school version of that feeling, which is where I was in my life at the time.

Tell Me Why – Fearless

Shocker: same guy. This song was absolutely perfect for one particular day in the saga of our non-relationship. He told me one thing and then went behind my back and acted a different way. It was something he would repeat a couple of times, and I’ve finally learned that he’s not going to change. But this was one of the worst times, and this song, just begging to know why someone would treat you that way, was on repeat for much of the second half of 2009. I’ve cried through this song many times. And then belted it out angrily. And now it doesn’t hurt anymore, but the some is still fantastic.

Hey Stephen – Fearless

And then I met someone new. And there was that first, giddy phase of feeling so hopeful and thinking this person was so perfect. And he wasn’t, and we didn’t end up together (although it took me a solid two and a half years to get over that), but that whole feeling – “I can’t help myself” – it’s a nice feeling to get back after you’ve been hurt.

Fearless – Fearless

I had never been on a date when I fell in love with this song. But it made me hopeful for that time when I would meet someone and have that chance to spend a first evening with them and have it go well. And it’s just a fun one to sing along to. So girly, but fun.

Jump Then Fall – Fearless (Platinum)

“Stephen” again. He was “everything I ever wanted” and it was the king of all unrequited crushes. When he’d talk “I hear[d] the words but all I [could] think [was] we should be together.” We’re good friends now. Funny thing is, he’s still great and I’m – obviously – still great, but we’ve both changed so much in those five years, I doubt I’d fall for him if we were to meet now. But I was crushing so hard in 2010.

The Story of Us – Speak Now

I just love this song. And the music video is awesome, one of my favorites. College student Taylor in a fancy library is excellent.

Sparks Fly – Speak Now

I like the first live version of this song best, but I was so excited it got released for real. It’s pretty unusual for Taylor because it’s more lust than love, but that whole idea of just wanting to be with someone so badly, even though it’s not a good idea — “it’s just wrong enough to make it feel right” — been there. Haven’t we all?

Long Live – Speak Now

She wrote this song about her band and winning an industry award – not exactly a relatable experience. But to me, this song feels like graduation. There’s the sweeping excitement of it all, the “we made it!” but also the moment of sadness, being nostalgic for something even while it’s happening.
Will you take a moment, promise me this
That you’ll stand by me forever
But if God forbid fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye
If you have children some day
When they point to the pictures
Please tell them my name
That bridge really spoke to how I was feeling at graduation – everything was exciting and great, but there’s the underlying fear of losing everyone and just turning into a memory.

Holy Ground – Red

Drew again. We were together for a little while and it was really awesome, for a very short period of time (like, two weeks). But those memories are something that I cherish. And maybe the years of pain came down to a couple weeks of things being right between us. And I don’t know if it was worth all the tears before and after, but it was good.

All Too Well – Red

This isn’t a my life song. This is the greatest song Taylor has ever written and if you’ve never listened to it you need to do so. Right now.

I Almost Do – Red

This is “Drew” again. I know, a lot. Ugh. This was after we sort of dated for a little while and he broke my heart yet again. I just kept going back, until I realized that at some point it became my own fault that he was hurting me. So this was those months when all I wanted was to call him up again and I stopped myself. I slipped up a couple times and answered texts/facebook messages, but this song reminded me not to.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Red

While this is one of Tay’s less impressively written songs, it was also my life. Drew had lied to me enough times, and I was pissed. And also done. Basically every line of this song happened in my real life, from him calling me up to say “I still love you” to me finally saying that it was never, EVER going to happen.

Begin Again – Red

I met someone last spring (yes, there was even coffee on a Wednesday – thanks, Taylor, for singing my life) that reminded me that there would continue to be new chances in my life. I don’t particularly love this song, but it reminds me of that. And even though that didn’t last, it was good and the feeling of a clean slate and moving on was awesome.

Out of the Woods – 1989

There was this boy this spring, and he was great, and he was crazy about me, and there was no chance of it lasting. We both knew this from the beginning, but it took us a few months to accept it. “We were built to fall apart” – but still, I’m glad for the time I spent with him.

Clean – 1989

One last one about Drew, just because when the album came out I was, indeed, “ten months older” than the last time I had talked to him. And for years I was “drowning,” then the truth of the situation “came pouring down” and it was awful but also freeing. Finally I was not only done with him because it was hurting me to keep going back, but it didn’t hurt anymore. I finally knew he was a crappy person and nothing is more freeing than that.


Okay, so that doesn’t even touch on the unreleased songs, but this is already a 1600 word essay about Taylor Swift. Plus, I have a lot more to say about 1989, it was just less relevant to my personal life. So, I’m going to be done now.


One Response to “The Essential Taylor Swift”

  1. Nicole December 31, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    Loved reading this! My favorite part about Taylor is how her fans can relate so strongly to her lyrics. “Teardrops on My Guitar” was the moment I fell in love with her because it was EXACTLY my life at that point. “The Way I Loved You” got me through my first breakup and a truly ill-conceived rebound attempt. And “The Best Day” always makes me cry and miss my dad. Every single time.

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