Updated “Exile” Interpretation: Taylor Swift Coming Out.

28 Jul

I changed my mind about the meaning of Exile.  Instead of the break up song that I originally thought it was, I think it’s more along the lines of The Archer and Mirrorball.  I think it might be more about Karlie coming out of the closet sooner (and with less fear/reluctance) than Taylor.  1Taylor sings, “And it took you five whole minutes, To pack us up and leave me with it.”  Is she talking about the burden?  The secret?  Stress and fear of coming out?  Taylor continues, “Holdin’ all this love out here in the hall.”  The person in the hall is in limbo.  They aren’t in either room.  They left the location Taylor is in, but they haven’t gone ahead and gone to the next location.  The person in the hall waits for both of them to go.

This thought is confirmed when Taylor says, “Now I’m in exile, seein’ you OUT.  Taylor is alone but she can see Karlie with more freedom, less fear than she herself has.  But Taylor remembers, “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending.”  Film has been a theme throughout Folklore.  Maybe it’s that gay movie again, where all the queer characters end in tragedy.  It could be more observation:  Ellen was initially ruined when she came out.  Other celebrities as well.  Basically, Taylor is saying her fears of coming out are overriding her loneliness of being left behind.

Later in the song, Taylor says, “so I’m leaving out the side door.”  So Taylor wants to leave the closet, but her reluctance and hesitation make her want to do it indirectly–out the side door, instead of a more direct route.

At this point, he (Karlie’s stand in for this track) sings to Taylor:  “So step right OUT.”  This second person is encouraging Taylor to just do it, come out.  They are telling her that the only thing holding her back is her own fears.  He/Karlie continues, “All this time, we walked a very thin line.”  I think it means that their life was never easy as a couple.  They always had to be cautious, beard, hide, go underground.  How much worse could it be by coming out?

The reason I felt like this song was more of a coming out of the closet song, rather than a break up song is the number of times, “signs” are mentioned.  It’s repeated over and over, by both, in layers, repeated and emphasized.  I think Taylor wanted this listeners of this track to really hear the message of this part.  She wants us to remember this part of the song (the story) in particular.  “So many signs, so many signs, You didn’t even see the signs.”  And I think the signs she refers to are ALL the hints over her whole catalog of music, in the lyrics, music videos, Easter eggs, the interviews, the write-ups, what she’s worn.  Who Taylor hangs out with and how much.  ALL THE SIGNS TAYLOR HAS GIVEN HER AUDIENCE THAT SHE IS QUEER AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN.


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