Tag Archives: closeted

You’re on Your own now, kid-each verse is 3-4 experiences present to past

30 Jan

This song isn’t quite a happy reminiscing. There’s both sadness and determination in the lyrics. The thesis is that Taylor has felt alone in every stage of her life: Her dad was MIA during her childhood either physically or emotionally. She was bullied in school at times. Her country label made her feel inadequate by creating her “perfect” alter-ego and hemming in her creativity. Dating men and being a beard made Taylor feel empty. 1989 Era was fun, but felt inauthentic and lonely and Taylor was secretly struggling. After the Kaylor breakup Taylor feels hopeless that she can ever genuinely love, because she sees it as problematic for her career. Currently Joe (her supposed partner) is absent. But because of all the loneliness and isolation, Taylor has honed her writing and furthered her career. Despite not being able to count on anyone aside from her mother, nobody can take away Taylor’s writing skills.

A lot of it has earmarks of the move to NYC and the 1989 Era, but I do think Taylor looks back further in time within the song. She talks about playing in parking lots when she was trying to get started. She may also be looking at her life as a whole and mentioning how she still feels like she’s on her own.

Theory: I hope I can explain what I’m thinking clearly. Taylor wrote the song in a chronological timeline (A-present day, B-1989 Era, C-Nashville, D-parents). Then, to obscure the timeline and subjects within the song she took the most recent (A) and made each line it’s own verse. Then she took 1989 Era (B) and made that the 2nd line of each verse. Then she broke the Nashville (C) into the 3rd line of each verse. And finally she made her childhood/parents (D) the final line of each verse. It’s possible each verse starts at the present (2022), mentions 1989 Era, goes back to Nashville, and ends with her childhood. Instead of AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, DDDD she mixed it to ABCD, ABCD, ABCD, ABCD.

For example:

A-Smoking with your boys could be her current situation with Joe. She’s in a house, not a home, alone. He’s off living his separate life, high like the night they met (Paper Rings).

B-The face Taylor wishes she could touch is Karlie’s but they’ve broken up.

C-The town Taylor wants to leave (for NYC) is Nashville.

D-The only one that can bring Taylor back to TN over a lifetime is her mom.

That might be loosely the formula Taylor used in the song. Does it hold up? See what you think…

Since the subjects of the song are unclear, and may change, and the timeline is not set in stone, I tried to think of all scenarios that could fit each line. Taylor didn’t call and tell me the specifics so I’m trying to gather the keys I do know about in order to get the gist.

Summer went away

Taylor doesn’t tell us the year she’s singing about, just the season.  Later in the song she talks about moving out of Nashville so I’m guessing most of this song is about 2014.

Taylor also mentions starving her body in the song and she was at her thinnest during the 1989 era:

Still, the yearning stays

Taylor also does not tell us what type of yearning she’s been feeling, or for how long:

A boy?

Her dad?

To be discovered?

Her family after she moved from TN to NY?

Gay love in general (or Dianna, specifically)?

The word can be used several different ways:

I play it cool with the best of them

I wait patiently

We know Taylor doesn’t sit back, waiting around to make music, or for her career to progress.  She takes action and proactively strives for more success.  But what then, is Taylor waiting for?

Her Dad?

Tolerate It:

Jake Gyllenhaal?

I don’t know if Jake was a real relationship or beard to cover for Jake’s sexuality and/or the Dianna Agron romance.  I used to be certain it was bearding, but when Red (TV) drudged up this decade-old relationship, and Taylor insinuated the red scarf did symbolize her virginity as Swifties suspected, I was no longer sure.

Dianna?

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

He’s gonna notice me

After I read this line I wondered if 2012 Taylor was looking back to the beginning of her career.  Is she remembering trying to break into the country music scene?  1989-Era Taylor could be thinking back to her start in country music because she was about to try to fully break into pop music.

Is HE $cott Borchetta or other music execs?

Is HE her dad?

Taylor could be talking about how her dad is always traveling for business, when she’s home, and how he stays home with her brother while she tours.  Her mom is involved in her life, but her dad is absent.

Is HE Jake Gyllenhaal?

Whatever they had together, it was on and off:

We are never ever getting back together:

Dianna Agron?

Of course, if Jake was just a bearding situation all of the above applies to Swiftgron.

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

We are never ever getting back together:

It’s okay, we’re the best of friends

Taylor wasn’t really best friends with studio execs, her dad, Jake, OR Dianna (they were very secret lovers) so I’m not sure this line is directly referencing any of the subjects that are options for the previous line.

If this line IS talking about the subject of “he’s gonna notice me” then I think Taylor is contrasting her parents.  Her dad doesn’t notice her, but that’s OK because her mom is her best friend.

If “I wait patiently he’s gonna notice me” is her dad and the best friend is her mom the song is describing how Taylor feels a hole in her life and goes to great lengths to put a bandaid over it by gathering friends and fans around her, and focusing on her music career.  She is saying because she feels a void in her parental relationships she has spent the time writing and making music which brought her all the friends and fans and fame.

My impression was that this line is doing two things:  Talking about the subject of the previous line and being used as a tool to put the story and the listener back in the correct timeline (1989 Era and The Squad).  For the latter, Taylor says it’s alright that HE doesn’t notice her because she has formed her own friend group that distracts her and makes her feel better.

Anyway

I hear it in your voice

Is Taylor saying this person is more dismissive when they’re with their friends?  

OR

Is she saying the voice literally sounds different when this person is smoking?

Tobacco:

Smoking weed could also change the sound of someone’s voice:

And it’s possible, but not a rule:

You’re smoking with your boys

I couldn’t find any evidence Scott Swift smokes.

I couldn’t find any evidence Scott Borchetta smokes.

I saw Karlie Kloss has NEVER smoked.

Is the smoker a lover/ex?

Jake-

He has smoked for movies, but he also smoked cigars and pipes at some point in time:

Jake G. also has been known to smoke weed:

Dianna-

She has also smoked for roles, and has been seen in public with a box of cigarettes: 

I couldn’t readily find anything about Dianna smoking weed, so if she does it seems she does it on the DL.

Joe-

He is the wrong timeline for this song, but I bring him up because Taylor talks about the beginning of her career in the song, so it’s possible she talks about a more current boyfriend/beard leaving her (emotionally) on her own as well.  

Joe smokes, but I think the Taylor Swift team cleaned up his image scrubbed the internet to be an appropriate partner for her.

Paper Rings could be talking about meeting Joe and his mates who were high.  It would  have to be his friends attending the MET Gala according to the most popular timeline of their relationship:

But also, Joe might be a is a cover for Karlie.  And that brings us back to the correct timeline for this song:  I think Paper Rings is for Karlie, and could allude to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show where Taylor and Karlie [supposedly] met.  Taylor could be talking about how the other models were high at that 2013 show:

I touch my phone as if it’s your face

This gesture seems too romantic in nature to be a studio exec or father.  Taylor could have changed subjects after the “he’s gonna notice me” line.  It also rules out beards, because she wouldn’t long for their attention-it’s a business relationship.  This line, possibly the whole song might be talking about a romantic relationship:

Dianna-

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

Karlie-

It can’t be Karlie because she doesn’t smoke.  She wouldn’t be smoking with her boys.  It would also require this line to be another time jump, because during the 1989 Era Taylor and Karlie were constantly seen together.  It wasn’t until later that Taylor was alone and longing to touch Karlie’s face.

I didn’t choose this town

Nashville?

It was Taylor who wanted to move to Nashville in order to break into the music business.  Her parents say they didn’t want to pressure her to succeed, so they let her think the move was their idea.

London or New York?

This could be interpreted two ways:  Taylor is talking to someone who lives in London in this song and says she didn’t choose this town (London).  

OR 

Taylor could be saying Karlie was the one who chose NYC, but she had wanted to move to London.

I dream of getting out

Taylor dreams of leaving the afore-mentioned town?

She never lived in London so she doesn’t dream of moving away.

Taylor seems to have loved NYC until her and Karlie split and she couldn’t bear to be reminded of Kaylor, so if she’s talking about NYC (not a town) it requires another time jump.

That leaves Nashville.  Though Taylor wanted/needed to move to TN to get a foot in the door to music, she tired of it quickly.  Taylor was bullied in middle school, and she felt constricted in the red state.

There’s just one who could make me stay

A romantic partner/ex?

Dianna-

After 2012, it looks like Dianna was traveling back and forth to Australia, living in CA, and also spending time in the UK.  It looks like “staying” isn’t Dianna’s strong suit, so I don’t think this line is about her.

Karlie in NY?

It’s plausible Taylor is saying that Karlie is the only person who could have kept her in the U.S., but I’m not sure because it’s not like Taylor adamantly didn’t want to live in NYC.  

All my days

This addendum made me think more about a blood relative, than a romance which is not guaranteed to last a lifetime.  Taylor talks about wanting to leave Nashville due to feeling restrained and trapped there.  But the one thing that can pull her back through a protracted timeframe is her mom.

Her mom in TN?

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

Sprinkler splashes brings to mind exuberance and warm sunshine fun.  Fireplace ashes alludes to endings.  Taylor talks about things burning down in many songs.  To her, fire and burning are something scary and awful that destroys.  A break-up, panic about being outed, a ruined career:

After this destruction, the ashes are the only remnant of what used to be.  

My Tears Ricochet-

Hoax-

In this line Taylor went from happy, sunny fun to the debris left from a fire [drastic cause of destruction].  She could be talking about a combination of things that tie the song together:  childhood fun with her parents, or the 4th of July parties The Squad attended, to break-ups.

Her dad?

Taylor’s relationship with her father started out admiring, and considering him a protector of her, “My daddy’s gonna show you how sorry you’ll be.”  Later the relationship with her dad was stalled–he was often absent from Taylor’s life.  Then he only tolerated her [sexuality?] and finally when he [maybe] cheated on her mom there was not quite estrangement, as he is heavily involved with Taylor’s career, but a schism formed.

$cott Borchetta/studio?

Taylor could secondly be bringing up her relationship with $cott Borchetta and her label at large.  Getting signed started out a dream come true, hopeful and exhilarating, ended in oppression, then ruins when he sold her masters.

Jake G.?

He could be an option here as well.  Taylor might have gone into it with optimism.  Whether she had comp-het and was trying to make a straight coupling work, or if she was thrust into a bearding situation, she seemed sincere in trying to make it work.  At the end, Taylor was jaded (either toward men or the bearding process).

Dianna?

She could also work here.  Swiftgron was red and passionate, but Dianna was gone all the time, and there may have been cheating on both sides of the relationship, until their romance was obliterated beyond repair.

The Squad?

The time period of this song seems to be mostly the 1989 Era so Taylor could be bringing up The Squad.  I think she hired them to distract from her boy crazy image.  The 4th of July parties looked mostly like photo-shoots to me.  Then after the 1989 Era put friendships in the forefront instead of boys, the group disintegrated and “we’ll never say that word again.”

Karlie?

Lastly, Taylor could be looking at all her relationships throughout her life and evoking how she and Karlie were both made of ashes at the end of Kaylor.

I waited ages to see you there

Taylor describes waiting for whoever she was talking about in the last line over ages.  Career-wise she could be talking about from the time she was a child to before she was a household name.  Taylor waited a long time, and also over many birthdays to be recognized as the musical prodigy that she is.  And the 1989 Era solidified Taylor’s place as a pop star.

Her fans?

Taylor’s father?

He never really came to her shows or awards.  Is she saying she waited ages for him to show up for her:

Jake or Dianna?

This line brings to mind, The Moment I Knew:

If Taylor is talking about Jake it brings up the 21st Birthday mythology that he was a no-show.

Dianna was not there a lot of times, which was a central issue in the Swiftgron relationship.

And if she’s talking throughout her life, Taylor could be telling Karlie that when she’s with Jo$h and not her, it wrecks Kaylor.

I search the party of better bodies

The party of beautiful people could be some sort of music networking thing that Taylor went to in order to get known and break into the industry, or even when she was trying to cross over to pop:

The party might be talking about any event Taylor attended with the models.  Is she talking about The Squad?

The party could be some awards pre or post party where Jake or Dianna attended.  For example Taylor, Dianna, and Lea Michele all went to the 2014 MET Gala:

Just to learn that you never cared

Scott Borchetta/her country label?

The Squad/fake friends/paid PR-

Jake G.?

All Too Well Short Film:

It wasn’t real to him because she was his beard?

But innocent Taylor was not on the same page. She saw a future with Jake, and was shocked when he suddenly broke things off:

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

I see the great escape

So long, Daisy May

Who is Daisy May, and what characteristics is Taylor trying to highlight?

Daisy Mae Scragg of Lil’ Abner comic strip-

Daisy Mae Dutten of video game Bullworth Academy-

Daisys that aren’t Maes:

Daisy Buchannan of The Great Gatsby-

Like Anti-Hero this may be Taylor’s critical side. She could see herself as these traits when she is in her self-hating mode.

Daisy Kenyon in the film of the same name-

I picked the petals, he loves me not

Or maybe it’s none of those characters, and Taylor (tagged as the daisy) is just referring to herself:

Something different bloomed

https://www.billboard.com/music/pop/taylor-swift-solo-songwriter-list-1235022983/

Writing in my room

I play my songs in the parking lot

I’ll run away

Taylor leaves painful situations to write and to focus on her career ambitions.

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

I called a taxi to take me there

She is saying she had nobody to drive her because she was on her own. Taylor had to pay someone to take her.

Where is Taylor at and where is she going?

Probably not TN to NYC-

She’s wealthy, but this seems like a long fare.

Maybe she means figuratively.  Taylor wants to be a household name, and she does this by bringing a personal touch to her listeners.  During the 1989 Era, Taylor called a Taxi company and made an account to pay for all of her fans to get to and from her concert.  Gestures like this make for a loyal fan base, which will help Taylor’s music career succeed.

I search the party of better bodies

Aspiring music writers/singers?

Taylor could be looking back at the start of her career during her juncture between country and pop music. She could also be talking about competing with other women for the crown of pop stardom.

Models and actresses joined the squad to bolster their career?

Just to learn that my dreams aren’t rare

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this

blood-

Sweat-

I really wanted to find out how long Taylor rehearses choreography for shows and tours, but this must be top secret information.  Despite trying for hours to Google different key words I couldn’t find anything that specified in any kind of detail how many hours.  I imagine it’s a long time.

A general example of rehearsals (not related specifically to Taylor):

Taylor’s purported 3x weekly workout and treadmill schedule:

Tears-

I hosted parties and starved my body

Taylor divulged she had disordered eating in Miss Americana.  I read in 2014 that she weighed 132lb.  This might not be accurate at all, who knows, but taking that number for an example it puts her BMI at 18.4 (underweight).  Also, I know BMI is a bit antiquated and depends on many variables that are not standardized to everyone.  But I’m trying to show some kind of quantitative example, so just go with it.  At 5’11” Taylor could weigh up to 178lb and be in a healthy weight range, per the BMI calculator.  

This is 1989 compared to Reputation:

Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss

In her country years Taylor had an idealized vision of what love should look like.  She seemed to draw from Disney and other fairytales in her youth.  

Kisses in Taylor’s songs:

As she got older, Taylor started dating and may have held onto some of that naivety.  It seemed like she thought a boyfriend could fix all of her problems.  She trusted these guys and seemed genuinely disappointed when they let her down:

Jonas brother-

Jake-

John Mayer-

Later, the boyfriends looked more fake (Tom Hiddleston) and some/all could have been beards.  To me, it looks like Taylor was pushed into these showmances and bearding situations (JJ, TL, JG, JM), but then she started hiring her own beards in order to “save” her career from her sexuality. Posing for a photo kissing a man would increase buzz around her music, make her more relatable, (and save Taylor from being outed?).

The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money

What money did Taylor take? 

Money from the studio to get started?

Money from fans who believed that Taylor’s genuine stories perfectly matched up with the PR narratives?

Money from celebrities who wanted to hide their sexuality under a beard?

Taylor is tying money to her dating life in this line.  She doesn’t like the boy-crazy jokes, BUT she took the money.  A definite possibility is that Lautner’s people, Jonas’ people, Jake, and even JM could have paid her for bearding services:

The gossip says that Jake is known for hiring beards:

A meme or a perceptive insight?

My friends from home don’t know what to say

Taylor’s friends are surprised that she is doing inauthentic things they know aren’t in her character in order to grow her career.

I looked around in a blood-soaked gown

The only thing that comes to mind is Carrie:

At first I thought this reference was out of left field, but after reading the following I thought it fit Taylor surprisingly well:

And I saw something they can’t take away

THEY can’t take away Taylor’s writing ability.  She honed her skills alone in her bedroom, practiced them in parking lots, and she will always have that.

‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned

The pages turned could be moving on to the next chapter of life, for example, the move from Nashville to NYC. This could additionally be talking about leaving relationships.

This is true about her writing/music too. Songs were cut or never added to the album for whatever reason (a lot were too gay).

Everything you lose is a step you take

With every new start something had to end.

Every song in the crypt contributed to the final product of the finished album [writing is editing!]. And those finalized albums are the stepping stones to the great fame Taylor enjoys(?) today.

Is Taylor talking about something specifically here?

Country/Nashville/home roots?

Jake G. (or men in general)?

It wasn’t working out, but that brought Taylor to the Kaylor relationship (women)?

If Jake was a beard, does the above apply to Dianna?

The Squad/fake friends?

So make the friendship bracelets

During the 1989 Era, bracelets were given to the crowd:

A fan gave Taylor a bracelet with pink and blue and purple beads with the word “pride” spelled out. She displayed it prominently in the below photo:

Take the moment and taste it

I don’t know that much about Buddhism, but there is a philosophy within that talks about living in the moment. And it applies a lot to worry and anxiety. The tenants have subjects of the spirituality be aware of their 6 senses (I think heart is the 6th?) in order to be present at this place in time. It relieves worry and regret which focus on present and past.

Less seriously:

You’ve got no reason to be afraid

You’re on your own, kid

Yeah, you can face this

Renegade-

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

Where does all of this leave us?

I think Taylor is telling us she has a rift between her and her father. But her mom is someone she can trust, and Andrea loves her unconditionally.

Nashville, country music, and her label made Taylor feel constricted and trapped.

Moving to NYC felt like wonderful freedom and breaking into pop catapulted Taylor to the top of the industry. There was a price to pay for that though-starving her body for just one example.

Jake may have hired/(secretly regarded?) Taylor as a beard. Taylor either didn’t know she wasn’t a real GF, or didn’t understand how Jake could remain cold and detached when acting the part made Taylor catch real feelings for him. It’s also a possibility that Taylor already knew she was queer, and the breakup with Jake hit her hard because she was morning the loss of a straight future she would never have.

With Dianna, Taylor knew she needed more. She wanted someone to be present and consistent and loyal, or it left her unhappy. There could also have been the revelation that she could never fight the logistics to be with a woman. Taylor might have been so upset because her career and Dianna (or any woman) could never coexist.

The Squad felt superficial and empty. Even though Taylor was able to have all the friends she wanted as a kid, it wasn’t satisfying and didn’t last.

Kaylor breakup hit Taylor hard and she is still recovering.

Bearding/Joe protects Taylor’s career but she’s living an isolated life, unable to have a true love. That makes Taylor miserable, but she leans on her music to cope.

Kelsea Ballerini and Taylor Swift are Legends

28 Jan

Here’s another song in Kelsea’s catalog where I think she is talking about Taylor, and purposely inserting certain words, themes, and images to reference Taylor. You decide:

Legends

We were golden, we were fire, we were magic

Is Kelsea intentionally using key words from Taylor’s songs?

Taylor modifies how she sees love from passionate, burning red, to golden like daylight. She wants to step out of the woods into the warmth of daylight.

Deep blue, but you painted me golden

The fire is a spark, or a comforting light in the darkness. It’s both warming and dangerous (if not controlled). Taylor also sees fire in a negative light, as being outed, burning the room down. And fire turning to ashes is like a relationship that ends, enkindling both people.

It seems Kelsea is alluding to comforting and warming, as she Wedges “fire” between golden and magic.

Magic is Taylor’s realization of what attraction and love feel like (vs. comp-het). Magic is also the disappearing act her and her sapphic lover are able to pull off thanks to heteronormativity [best friends!].

Yeah and they all knew our names all over town

Taylor and Kelsea are both big names in Nashville.

They have both toured the world and topped the music charts.

Taylor’s description of Nashville:

To Taylor, Nashville has become limiting and artificial, entrapping her in a disingenuous image. Kelsea moved to Nashville as a teen because she had seen Taylor do it. Kelsea wanted to emulate Taylor’s career, and was excited to be in a place where it could happen. So many eager hopefuls travel to Nashville, seat of country music, to make it in the industry.

We had it made in the middle of the madness

A music star has a crazy schedule.

“Celebrity” could be a chaotic life.

Sapphic affairs might cause a stir.

Madness could be rebelling against social norms.

We were neon in a gray cloud

Taylor uses bright color to describe sapphic love (vs. the black and white of straight love):

Taylor is chronically sad and depressed (in part due to being closeted):

Both cheating and sapphic love put Taylor’s relationships in a gray area:

The clouds might signify Taylor pining for Karlie, or trying to get her back:

But Kelsea says they were colorful and gay in the midst of Taylor’s depression, in a confusing situation, and when Taylor’s head is still in the Kaylor clouds.

Yeah, we wrote our own story

They paved their own way because what other two (country) music stars are in a sapphic relationship?

They each literally wrote their story in their songs.

Full of blood sweat and heartbeats

Full of blood?

Is it talking about working toward careers: blood, sweat, and tears? But there were no tears, so the heartbeats are a reprieve from that? The heartbeats signal excitement and passion.

Or is it talking sexy time (pitter patter of the heart then getting sweaty) under a blood moon?

They might have had their affair during the month of a lunar eclipse.

Or the blood moon may signal an infrequent and intermittent affair (twice a year).

Additionally, it could be some October as the full moon that month is called Blood-Moon due to hunting season.

Can we use the moon to pin down the time frame the Taylor and Kelsea might have had a fling?

Months of blood moons:

Based on the Delicate cover and Taylor’s response to it:

and the towels pic:

I think their affair could have happened at least in 2018. March-May 2018 seems more than friends, possibly. Due to the on/off Kelsea’s discography alludes to it could have also been intermittent in years prior or after this too.

Counterfeit:

Taylor wants to resolve Kaylor, but she is anxiously waiting for things to align. While Taylor waits for the perfect timing with Karlie there’s a glitch and she gets with Kelsea.

Beating hearts/heartBEAT:

We didn’t do it for the fame or the glory

Kelsea is contrasting the very public Kaylor to KelSwift. Karlie and the models might have been hired as PR to eliminate the boy-crazy image Taylor hated. Taylor needed a best friend to take away mention of men. Karlie signed on to play the BFF to get more exposure and recognition to bolster her own career.

And Kaylor accidently fell in love.

But Kelsea and Taylor are not together for PR or careers. There was never money exchanged between the two.

They came together more organically.

But we went down in history

Yeah we were legends

That sounds a lot like a closeted sapphic relationship! There are rumors, but no pictures.

It also sounds a lot like the premise of the folklore album.

But notice Kelsea is talking in past tense.

Loving you baby it was Heaven

Another past tense line.

In Cruel Summer, Taylor describes her relationship with (I’m pretty sure) Karlie. The relationship is delicate and fragile for many reasons: Taylor feels conflicted because society taught her that sapphic love is sinful, and she brings up religious figures to show her concern. The relationship is also fickle because Kaylor started out friends with benefits, no strings attached, and Taylor and Karlie caught stronger feelings on antithetical timelines. Thirdly, the Kaylor relationship feels precarious because Karlie can’t commit fully–partially because she had a long-term boyfriend/beard.

During KelSwift, Taylor is still apprehensive about her sexuality, especially in a public forum. Now Taylor treats Kelsea like Karlie treated her at first. She doesn’t want to be serious, and is just looking for a fun fling. Kelsea, however, has strong feelings for Taylor, just like the strong feelings Taylor had/has for Karlie. Taylor has been on both sides of the equation between Kaylor (pining/wanting more) and KelSwift (distracted/non-committal).

What everyone wondered we’d never question/Close our eyes and took on the world together

This line is more strong evidence that this is a different (gay) type of relationship. Why would other people wonder about this couple? Why does the pair need to take on the world?

I think “take on the world” is also talking about their music careers. Kelsea and Taylor and both striving to get their music out to the world.

Do you remember?

We were crazy

Tragic and epic and so amazing

Interesting choice of words…

I’ll always wear the crown that you gave me

The crown. We talked about how Taylor has at least 3 songs that mention a crown specifically in the Homecoming Queen analysis.

Out of Kelsea, her husband, and Taylor who was the first to move to Nashville, and who got signed first?

Kelsea’s husband was signed after she had already been signed for a year.

https://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/music/news/a29259/all-it-took-was-a-tweet-to-make-kelsea-ballerini-an-instant-star/

We will always stay lost in forever

And they’ll remember

We were legends

Like we were written down in permanent marker

KelSwift leaves an indelible mark on Nashville and music. And the couple will always have good memories of their relationship. This line also might be a call back to an early Taylor Swift performance in Nashville:

Kelsea uses “permanent marker” possibly to contrast the word “paint” that Taylor often uses in her own songs. Paint can be RE-painted, or covered up easily. Permanent marker is more difficult to remove or modify.

Not even the brightest sun could ever fade

In Peace, Karlie tells Taylor she is sunshine/fire/friend, and would take away Taylor’s depression and die for her:

To Kelsea, sunshine is Karlie. She is saying even Karlie at her brightest, can’t take away the memories of KelSwift.

Come whichever hell or high water

Taylor thinks fiery hell would be getting outed in a gay relationship:

And the water is Taylor’s team putting out the fire with their damage control:

Kelsea is saying KelSwift could survive despite the closeting (for fear of fire/hell) and the PR damage control (water/flood) that also comes with bearding. Kelsea is also in the industry so she knows how important it is to be descreet. She even wrote a song about keeping secrets, If You Go Down (I’m Going Down Too). Kelsea is commenting that Taylor wouldn’t be outed with her. And Kelsea is saying she already knows the industry and the PR damage control doesn’t bother her.

It was always me and you either way

Hey we wrote our own story

Full of blood sweat and heartbeats

We didn’t do it for the fame or the glory

We just did it for you and me

And that’s why we were legends

I’m not the only one who noticed similarities between Kelsea and Taylor in this song.  Unlike the hater that wrote the following article, I don’t think Kelsea is doing a cheap remake of Taylor’s work. I think Kelsea is intentionally referencing Taylor in order to furtively tell the audience who the subject of this song is–Taylor.

Kelsea Ballerini talks to Taylor Swift, Figurative Homecoming Queen, About Coming Out

23 Jan

I know this song is probably about Kelsea, herself. But I found a lot of compelling call-backs to Taylor’s lyrics and life. I think lyrics can have a surface-level meaning, and a deeper, more hidden secondary interpretation. Given Kelsea’s lyrics and videos I also think Kelsea and Taylor were together in some capacity, so Kelsea might have written this song with Taylor in mind.

Hey homecoming queen

Before I get into my research I will tell a story about my high school’s homecoming queen:

My Senior year the school voted Stephanie (name changed to the most common female name in my school for privacy) as our Homecoming Queen. Stephanie had been on cheerleading all 4 years of high school, but she wasn’t the “typical” popular girl represented in movies. I hadn’t thought of her as the most popular girl in school either, though she hung out in the most popular group of girls in my high school. As a matter of fact when her and her sister moved to our small, rural town in seventh grade, everyone made fun of Stephanie (her sister was a grade below so I’m not sure what her experience had been). Stephanie was in my peripheral friend group in middle school and sat with us in English class. She seemed well-intentioned and considerate, but I never knew her very well, because she also seemed uncomfortable and shy. My small class had known each other since kindergarten so anyone new was an anomaly and outsider just because they had already missed so much. I’m sure she felt that. Also, the boys were dicks.

In high school everything changed for her. Stephanie was kind and unproblematic, so she was easy to like. We carpooled to cheerleading practice all summer, and our birthdays are only two days apart so we had that in common. She came to my sixteenth birthday party and was nice to everyone, but we were never the type of friends that told each other secrets or anything like that. I don’t think she got very close with too many people…

Though she was thin, she preferred to base stunts, showing her strength by lifting other girls high in the air. She was determined and practiced hard–she was not in cheerleading just to look cute or gain popularity-though she did both of those things too. Stephanie (and her sister) were the type of pretty that stood out in our year books. They were beautiful and probably could have even modeled if they had wanted to (and had the financial backing to do so). But Stephanie was not just gorgeous, at practice Stephanie was always strong and tough, and I think she had to be resilient outside of practice too. Stephanie’s parents were divorced but lived together for financial reasons. Once her dad came to cheerleading practice drunk and the vice principal had to tell him to leave. The sisters were devastated and embarrassed, but we never heard details or saw anything like that again. You would never know there were family issues or poverty or anything aside from that one small peek into their world. The sisters excelled at academics and participated in cheer, and were well-liked and never let on anything was wrong. Stephanie dated the star kicker on the football team long-term, and they both just seemed nice. I think she leaned on him for support and they were together a lot. Her mom asked him to buy her cigarettes because he was a bit older.

When Stephanie was crowned homecoming queen I was happy for her. I was glad a genuinely kindhearted person won the coveted title. And just to end this little story, based off of Facebook, I think her and her sister both have happy lives. Stephanie joined the Coast Guard (I told you she was gritty and fit!) for a bit and is now married and has at least one child. Her sister got married and looked very happy and may have children as well (IDK I deleted sketchy Facebook so now I don’t know anything about anybody anymore). To sum up, homecoming queens are pretty and popular, but I think they also have to be smart, involved in school, and personable. And they have problems just like the rest of us.

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Taylor Swift was never a homecoming queen:

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Taylor never got to experience many high school milestones because she was working on her career. Yet, Taylor’s career epitomizes what it is to be the homecoming queen. She is beautiful and popular. Also, Taylor’s celebrity is crafted on the every-girl image. She portrays herself as one of us, and has actually reached out to fans on a “personal” level. Taylor is smart and a role model. She told us in several songs about having the crown during her career.

Adjacent but related:

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Part of me feels sorry that Taylor had to miss milestones that mark an (American) teenager’s life. The other part remembers her career has been so exciting, acclimatory, and lucrative that it’s difficult to quite see her as a tragic figure.

Anyway, I can see why Kelsea, an underclassman to Taylor in age and career, might see Taylor as emblematic of a homecoming queen.

Why do you lie/When somebody’s mean?

Common word or intentional call-back to Taylor’s song, Mean?

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We know Taylor is afraid of criticism, and is fretful about her public image:

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Taylor and Kelsea are 4 years apart in age.

For example in 2003, this legislation was passed:

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Since Taylor was 14 years old, a teenager, this might have made an impact on her views of sexuality [socially unacceptable to be anything other than straight]. But Kelsea would have been in elementary school so this might not have even been on her radar. During Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out, and the backlash against her, Taylor would have been around 8 and Kelsea just a tot. Fred Phelps, of “God hates fags” died in 2014 when Taylor was around 24 years old and Kelsea was just getting signed as an artist. Kelsea wasn’t exposed to a lot of things Taylor saw and experienced just that short time earlier, which could explain the different mentalities about queerness. Kelsea sees coming out as something authentic and worth doing, while Taylor sees it as apocalyptic.

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Kelsea asks Taylor why do you lie when somebody’s mean, and I think she’s talking about this exact situation. Why do you closet when someone questions your sexuality?

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Where do you hide?

Taylor has been indoctrinated by parents, career authorities, and society to hide her sexuality. Tolerate It talks about feeling othered.

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This man (her father? The studio execs?) covered up Taylor’s rough edges [barbed wire]. They hid the “bad” [queer] parts of her to make her more acceptable for public consumption.

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I wonder if the clues she didn’t see might be Taylor thinking about the gaslighting in Tolerate it— ‘it’s all in your head.’ Taylor shows she has internalized these men’s attitudes somewhat. She wonders if maybe she is interested in boys and just didn’t realize it or notice the signs. She says the narrative would be prettier if there was an invisible string tying her to a fated male soulmate.

Cuttin’ me open could be a cold assessment of Taylor’s attributes and flaws. The mistakes are PR blunders, the demons are her desires to touch women. After these men in authority scrutinize her they “heal” her. But the result isn’t good or great, it’s just fine. The corrections they made to Taylor’s image were OK, fair, tolerable to Taylor the individual…

The men in authority assessed her, saw queerness and deemed it undesirable, and “corrected” it by pushing her into relationships with men [Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve and You’re on Your own now Kid?]. These beards covered up Taylor’s sexuality, but with sharp barbed wire, and bulky chains. It’s not comfortable for her as an individual to wear. And this respectable, passable narrative of being in relationships with guys, tied her to (Joe?)

Do people assume/You’re always alright?/Been so good at smiling/Most of your life/Look damn good in the dress/Zipping up the mess/Dancing with your best foot forward

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Taylor hides her pain behind a smile and pretty dress. Her audience does not notice there is deception. The veneer wears on Taylor and she fakes it til she makes it until she can no longer distinguish what is forced upon her and what is her choice. The lines between what her team portrays about her as a brand, and who Taylor the person are get blurry. She’s faked it so long, that she’s made it, and it’s (her brand image) true(?).

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This is another statement showing Taylor hides her authenticity to give the people what they want. They don’t notice something is amiss.

Does it get hard/To have to play the part?/Nobody’s feeling sorry for ya

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Taylor tells her audience it’s a balancing act that she’s constantly attending to, and it’s not her natural state. But she would do anything, try everything, to keep her fans looking at her.

But what if I told you the world wouldn’t end/If you started showing what’s under your skin/What if you let ’em all in on the lie?/Even the homecoming queen cries

To Kelsea coming out doesn’t seem like a catastrophe. She suggests sharing inner struggles to show everybody has issues. But as Exile says, Taylor is reluctant to come out of the closet (directly):

Hey homecoming queen/How’s things at home?/Still walking on eggshells

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I think this is a technique to talk about her own childhood house, her own father, and her own life with plausible deniability. Taylor can distance herself from these statements of an angry father causing her to cry and hide her sexuality by portraying that it’s a friend’s life. Taylor learns at an early age that her dad finds her sexuality problematic so she has to keep that portion of herself hidden.

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This person is someone older, who causes Taylor to regress back to a child. The person is/was gone a lot, and she waits for them to return. She says the person is wise, and she seems to trust their take on things. Tolerate it tells us that Taylor’s dad thinks her queerness is a phase or that she’s mistaken. She says she accepts him despite his indiscretions (cheating on her mom?) yet he just tolerates her love.

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Because Taylor has been coerced to hide her sexuality from a young age she leads a lonely adult life. Her Dad and the authority figures from the studio taught her their love for her is not unconditional (contrasted to her mom in Sweet Nothing). Their love and acceptance hinges on her success and profitability. They think this sapphic stuff is all in her head and she’s got it wrong so if they just throw her together with a guy so her career (and their money) won’t get blown up. Taylor knows her sexuality is innate, but has to walk on eggshells to appease these men. So she closets and beards to assuage them, until she fakes it til she makes it and it’s true. Now she closets and beards because she’s afraid not to.

When that curtain’s closed

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Taylor has been indoctrinated that she can only love in private. When drama ramps up and Taylor feels comforted by another woman, she has to go inside and close the windows to love out of sight.

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Again, Taylor’s parents and the studio executives taught her to keep “undesirable” things private, behind closed doors. Even though Taylor is heartbroken and hurting she is still inside with boarded up windows getting drunk alone. She has to depend on her lover to come back to her, instead of chasing the lover outside where others could see. Taylor has to have a lover that agrees to remain invisible.

Did your daddy teach you/How to act tough?

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Taylor learned two things from this episode: Her father could be a ruthless defender of her career and money. And if you cross her father or are no longer useful to him, he’ll wrap you in chains and throw you away.

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Even as a teen, Taylor knows to hide her sadness and weak emotions. She models her conflict resolution after her dad’s example– aggression.

Or more like your mama?/Sweep it under the rug

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Taylor’s mom gave her a really good day. But her solution to Taylor being bullied was taking her shopping until she forgot their names. Andrea sweeps the central issue under the rug and distracts Taylor from her problems, instead of facing them head on.

Look damn good in the dress/Zipping up the mess/Dancing with your best foot forward

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Taylor combined the coping strategies of both her parents: Stuff down sad emotions and get revenge (her dad’s influence) and look pretty and go dancing to distract yourself (her mom’s way).

Did you want the crown/Or does it weigh you down

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When Taylor was young, she was excited to finally realize her dreams. She got off the sidelines and went to center stage, showing off her crown to the whole town.

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During Reputation era, Taylor realized how difficult the crown was to hold on to. One mistake and it was taken away. She learned people are fickle and it’s difficult to have staying power in the cut-throat entertainment industry.

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Taylor also figured out the crown was only given to one person, and that person needed to represent perfection. And she talks about the homophobes with their signs, knowing that her sexuality, if revealed, could get her crown taken away.

Nobody’s feeling sorry for ya

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The media used You’re not Sorry against Taylor. They turned a break-up song into a woman always playing victim narrative. [Sidenote- I am only talking about song lyrics here, not any other quotes or actions in Taylor’s wider life]. If a man wrote this would it be weaponized against him?

The big names on this list tell us that men are not held to the same lyrical standards. Men can play the victim to cunning, or gold-digging women, be openly misogynistic, and it’s written off. It’s just one song. Boys will be boys. But women are scrutinized and judged more.

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What if I told you the world wouldn’t end/If you started showing what’s under your skin?/What if you let ’em all in on the lie?/Even the homecoming queen cries

Kelsea tries to convey that times have changed, and coming out is no longer career ending. But Taylor knows love is conditional. She has been programmed to hide anything negative in order to preserve her fame.

The Archer substantiates that Taylor has struggled with her sexuality long-term, and she closets to cope.  “The room is on fire, invisible smoke” is talking about that struggle.  The fire is the worst outcome–It’s getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed.

The kiss in a crowded room was an important, life-changing event.  But it’s not the only event where Taylor was nearly or partially outed (a fire) and she panicked and shut it down to salvage her image and career.  Taylor spirals into the anxious thought that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything

Yeah, what if I told you the sky wouldn’t fall?/If you lost your composure, said to hell with it all

Kelsea thinks Taylor’s fears are a bit dramatic. She articulates the ridiculousness of the notion that the world would fall apart if Taylor was truthful in public. Kelsea believes it would be relatable for Taylor to show her more authentic self. But Taylor isn’t just embellishing her fears to convey a more dramatic story. She actually has deep-rooted panic about what would happen if she was publicly sapphic.

Not everything pretty sparkles and shines

It’s a call back to Our Song, one of Taylor’s first songs. Kelsea is also pointing out their different perspectives. Kelsea says some pretty things aren’t sparkly, shiny, and flawless. There is beauty in the imperfection. Taylor was reared on idealized love fairytales and purity. She knows to hide undesirable things away.

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And even the homecoming queen cries/Oh yeah/Even the homecoming queen cries/Hey homecoming queen/Why do you lie?

Taylor lies and then cries because she has internalized the lessons from her parents and the (country) music industry. Renegade broaches the subject of Taylor’s internal homophobia. She fires off arrows and missiles because she hates her inherent queerness. Taylor’s attitudes damage herself and those in close proximity to her. The lover that sings this song says Taylor has come a long way, but gets weak and reverts to the negative thinking and closeting whenever she faces a perceived threat. The lover questions if Taylor’s extreme reluctance to open the blinds (come out) is due to anxiety or if she just doesn’t actually want a life with this person? Something is stopping Taylor from giving her lover the family she craves, and Taylor’s baggage is negatively impacting the lover’s mindset too. This girlfriend has no place carved out in Taylor’s life, but persists despite the invisibility. She begs Taylor to get her shit together so she can love her. But Taylor only squeezes the lover’s hand when the lover is about to leave.

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When somebody’s mean/Where do you hide?

And to finish off the song I give you the most obvious tie-in from Kelsea’s “where do you hide” choice of wording to I Know Places, a song about the panic of being outed. Taylor’s instinct is not to come out, but to take her girlfriend and hide from curious onlookers and intrusive questions.

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Question… The Last Post of the Series and Explanation of Who and What the Song is About [Part 20]

22 Jan

We finished the end of Dancing with our Hands Tied! Parts A-T if you missed it. Do you agree that Taylor is agonizing over an event that almost outed her? And she is regretful that she choose the closet over her lover? With that foundation, let’s look at Question…:

Here’s the lyrics as written so you can get a sense of the story Taylor is telling:

Can I ask you a question?
Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room
And every single one of your friends was
Making fun of you
But fifteen seconds later they were clapping too?
Then what did you do?
Did you leave her house in the middle of the night?
Did you wish you put up more of a fight?
When she said it was too much?
Do you wish you could still touch …her?
It’s just a question

Now I’ll try to analyze them line by line, using what we learned from Dancing with our Hands Tied plus the consensus of word meanings gleaned from other songs in the catalog:

Can I ask you a question?

To me, it seems like both Dancing with our Hands Tied and Question…  Are less about one event or person, and more about Taylor’s overall mentality and what that leads to.  Taylor is acknowledging that her gay-panic and straight-washing sucks.  BUT this song (we’re back at Question…) is a justification of her actions.  

She is asking the listener (her ex-girlfriends, fans, critics, etc…) to empathize with her very specific situation.  In these lyrics, Taylor is calling for us to stand in her shoes (on your tiptoes) and see why she does these seemingly callous things repeatedly.  Question… is a song about Taylor’s phobia of being unabashedly queer and her habitual dread of being outed. 

As I said, I think this applies to every one of Taylor’s sapphic relationships.  For ease of writing and for specificity, I’ll use the muse I’m most familiar with, the most recent known girlfriend, Karlie.   

Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room

The first question Taylor asks (exes, fans, critics) is did you ever find yourself in a situation where you were doing a controversial action in front of everybody?

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding and secrets and lies hurts their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

And every single one of your friends was

Making fun of you

Taylor adds details to her first question.  She wants to know if you’ve done something controversial AND if everyone was disdainful towards you about it?

Taylor wants us to know that, yes, she acted ugly as a result of each of these public events that revealed her true nature.  Cruel Summer shows Taylor’s hidden feelings:

Cruel Summer

She hated all the secrets.  She snuck around for love despite the dangerous consequences. And it made her sad that her love wasn’t celebrated.  But she had to. Because everyone was judging her harshly, ready to out her to the world.

But fifteen seconds later they were clapping too?

Then what did you do?

Taylor wants to know what the listener would have done when the rules changed.  She says, turns out, you adjusted in order to tame the controversy, but society evolved.  Instead of jeering this formerly controversial pairing, the majority were cheering.  But what if you  (her ex, the fans, any critics) were still locked in cages of maintaining your status quo?  How would you handle the situation then?

She asks the listeners what they would do in that very specific situation.  Knowing it’s impossible to handle smoothly, Taylor then implies that nobody can judge her harshly for her reactions and behavior.  She says anyone would act just as cagey under her circumstances.

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of just coming out.  Taylor, the individual, long ago lost her autonomy to Taylor Swift, the brand.  All the anxiety about negative societal reactions kills the sapphic partnership.  And when time passes and the general public is more accepting of queerness, Taylor was already locked into her marketed image.  She has to remain super-straight, or her fans will know she lied a lot of times.  They will feel betrayed by their friend.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of these anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Taylor talks to a few different subjects in the next lines.  Taylor is asking herself these questions.  She’s asking her girlfriend if any of these outcomes would have changed if either of them had taken different actions.  And she asks the listener to empathize.  

Did you leave your secret love in the middle of the night?  In that situation, do you think you could put up more of a fight?  And what about if your girlfriend was also anxious about it?  Would you press her to continue?  Taylor is saying she had all bad choices here, and anyone would have finished with the same bad outcome as she did.

Did you leave her house in the middle of the night?

According to her catalog, it’s Taylor who blew things out of proportion, and it was Taylor who burned the relationship down. It’s Taylor who pushes Karlie (any girlfriend applies) to run, and to take the last train.  It’s Taylor who jumps off the train and rides off alone.  

Did you wish you put up more of a fight?

Taylor is asking this question to herself and her exes.  She’s also showing her listeners how difficult it was to even do the little pushing back she did. She was marketed not only as boy-crazy, but as everyone’s personal friend, so the news would cause a stir.

The Taylor Swift brand is huge.  There is a lot of money and power behind it.  Look at one example of a business move that conveys the incredible power of TSTM:

Taylor (as face of the brand) had spoken and a Fortune 500 company immediately complied.  In this damage-control situation, after trying and faltering against all that brand-leverage, Taylor asks how would YOU proceed? 

Coming out as any kind of gay would cause backlash, and the employees of TSTM might be subjected to hardship. There is strong motivation to put out fires on behalf of the brand. Their damage control is quick and decisive.  The water of them putting out this fire became a flood that engulfed and overwhelmed everything.  In Clean, Taylor said she screamed so loud when all this water filled her lungs.  This damage control negatively impacts her despite being the face of the brand.

Remembering how the butterflies crumble to dust and Taylor is unhappy and alone in the closet, she had momentary bravery and pushed back against her team’s damage control.  Part of Taylor wants to choose authentic love, and the woman. So she started fighting for her (real) relationship, arguing with her team about downplaying the event that outed her.  She protested against going back into the closet, and tried to stop the torrent, “…but no one heard a thing.”  

Nobody on Taylor’s team listened to Taylor [remember her crying at the table in Miss Americana?] and she submitted, “Hung my head as I lost the war.” The war is Taylor’s conflict with her sexuality (this is bigger than her team).  She momentarily wanted to come out, but TSTM executives thought it would be bad for the brand.  It was just enough friction to trigger the conflict within herself.  As much as Taylor wants to come out and be free to love her soulmate, her fears of losing everything are stronger.  “So I punched a hole in the roof, Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you.”  Taylor’s fear took over in the end.  Clearing the air, she breathed in the smoke, and helped with the cover-up at the expense of her sapphic love.

When she said it was too much?

Here Taylor is telling the listener that the split wasn’t just one-sided.  The partner felt exhausted by the complications and couldn’t deal with it anymore.  

She is asking the listeners/critics what you would do if you lived through this complicated event, and had to deal with the pressure of a whole brand. 

Furthermore, what if the girl you were trying to fight for had a lot of doubts? The girlfriend wasn’t sure that she even wanted to go through more just to make things work–what would you have done?  Taylor is making it evident that she (as individual vs. brand) didn’t have a lot of pull in the matter.  And even if she did, her girlfriend was beaten down by the experience and ready to leave.

Again, the music belies Taylor’s internal struggle.  In Death by a Thousand cuts, Taylor tells how heartbroken she was with the final result:

Do you wish you could still touch …her?

Taylor’s last question shows that she wishes it wasn’t this way.  She still covets the touch of her lover.  Despite her impossible situation, and inability to rectify it in a satisfying way (for all parties involved) Taylor says she truly loved the girl.

Taylor’s most important relationships couldn’t overcome so many stumbling blocks despite both loving each other (Question…  [Part 10]).  There is internal homophobia, career pressures, political considerations, bearding complications, on and on. How many struggles can one relationship survive?   

When Taylor’s default action is covering up her queerness, it causes her to suppress her secret relationship as well. Karlie politely lived with being stifled, her love tamped down (Question…  [Part 10]).  But eventually left the smothering deprivation of the closet.  Karlie “married” the guy or more suitably–commissioned her new heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]).  

The break-up kills Taylor.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Both Taylor and Karlie (this could apply to any and all of Taylor’s sapphic lovers) are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out grieving for the living (“do you wish you could still touch her?”).  Yet, Taylor still prioritizes building a legacy despite repeatedly losing the lover because of it (Question…  [Part 11]).  It’s a pattern she’s repeated over and over.  

It’s just a question

This is a cheeky ending where Taylor feels like the listener agreed with her logic.  She wanted us to know the details of her situation so we could see how she couldn’t do things any other way.  And now that we’ve seen her side of things, she knows we’re on the same page as her.  She was entombed in a lot of ways and that justified her behavior.  It’s the same as Dancing with our Hands Tied: Taylor is broken because her sapphic relationship ended. She’s regretful and wished things would have been different. But she reminds herself, her ex, and her audience in the song how her unique circumstances are to blame. And she ends both songs saying I regret this, but… Taylor has rationalized all her choices which have led to these disheartening outcomes.

Taylor will remain shrouded in the lavender haze because she has more challenging circumstances than many.  But she’s still going to be sad, and share her feelings about it in song.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Taylor Swift would change everything… And everything would end the same [Part T]

19 Jan

We are nearly back to Question…!

We addressed the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room by exploring Dancing with our Hands Tied strongly believed to be tied [too on the nose?] to Kissgate.

We proved Question… and Dancing with our Hands Tied are nearly the same song. DWOHT is looking back with regret and wishing for a re-do. Question… is also looking back at the same or similar event(s).

So we’re segwaying from DWOHT back to the end of Question

This part of the song really turns into Question

If I could dance with you again

This is a lament.  Taylor’s behavior in that pivotal moment caused the pair to stop dancing.  The dancing is the actual act of holding each other and the feeling of liberation at associating as a romantic couple in public.

I’d kiss you as the lights went out

If Taylor could rewrite history she would have kissed her partner in that clamorous moment.  Instead of worrying about the people looking up at her and her lover (grinnin’ like the devil), Taylor would have leaned into her love.

Swaying as the room burned down

The fire Taylor (and her team) have been terrorized by flared up that night.  Taylor let her guard slip and was too obviously gay out in the open.  Viewers were quick to gather physical evidence and Taylor would have been outed.  If she could revise what happened in that significant moment, Taylor says she would have continued dancing instead of getting flustered.

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

The following week, Taylor succumbed to the pressure of her team’s damage control.  Once mollified, she even felt safe within the enclave of the closet.  Taylor tells her sapphic lover that if she could do it all again, she would choose her.  Instead of acquiescing to the closet, Taylor wishes she would have remained firm and stood proudly with her lover.

If I could dance with you again

Taylor is regretful that salvaging her straight image caused her girlfriend to be enshrouded too.  By covering up their love, Taylor buried it.

BUT the very last line of the song:

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor amended the whole event to appease her ex-girlfriend and show her how she’s evolved as a person.  This whole verse was tinged with regret, and Taylor is telling how she would make different choices.  The way that Taylor dealt with the original moment ended up causing her (and her girlfriend) pain and suffering.  She is lonely and unhappy because of those choices.  

Yet, at the very end (the last line of the song) Taylor doesn’t allude to dancing, uninhibited in the open, freely out with her partner. 

Her idea of comfort is dancing within the constraints of her brand.  Taylor wants to be with the woman, but she needs her career.  Taylor has not progressed at all.  She changed everything in the Kissgate scenario, but ends up back in the same precarious position–dancing, but within the chains of her heteronormative image.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Same words, different format: Bad Feeling, Dancing, Hands Tied [Part S]

18 Jan

I put the parts we already talked about together in a different way. The repetition conveys the anxiety Taylor feels.

I had a bad feeling

Taylor is chronically anxious about a lot of things.   Primarily, in her words: Her house is haunted. Translation: The physical embodiment of her sensibilities is gay (Question…[Part 6].  Taylor feels torn between her “aberrant” sexuality and being seen as the ideal woman, or at least politically correct.  It’s a struggle for Taylor to be authentic to who she is, but also appeal to a wide swath of people to maintain her fame (Question… [Part 12]).  She’s gay, rattled, and drunk, yet she projects hyper-femininity and confidence to be palatable to the masses.   Throughout Taylor’s life her sexuality caused her to hide, panic, and scheme. 

I had a bad feeling

The middle of the night is a time for Taylor to ruminate and contemplate why she is in cages.  She has to retract central parts of her branding if she wants to be open about her sexuality.  If she sticks to the tenants of the Taylor Swift brand, Taylor, the individual, must closet and beard (Question…  [Part 6]).  She has strife about this difficult choice, because Taylor worries that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything.  

But we were dancing

Taylor and her lover have stopped (“we were”) dancing.  The word “Dance” is being unbothered and happy-go-lucky in her queerness–a state Taylor enters only with this specific person per Holy Ground (Question…  [Part 17]).  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor construes “dance” to mean having no inhibitions. She talks about how children are willing to dance without shame. The word is used to show the elation, relief, and liberation of being herself, as in the song, Long Live (Question…  [Part 17]).  Slightly adjacent to being in an uninhibited, unflappable mode relating to her queerness (NOT her default state of anxiety and fear) Taylor uses “dance” to express allegiance and belonging. When she dances in Welcome to New York it shows that Taylor found people that accept her and “Dance” is used to show affiliation with these urban queers. Same with Beautiful Ghosts. She “dances” or unites with these other gay people because that’s who she is, and they integrate her into their chosen family (Question…  [Part 17]).  The preponderance of “dancing” in Taylor’s catalog is relaxation and ease with her innate sexuality.  

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

Taylor also uses dance to show intimacy between two people.  I think that’s a pertinent meaning in this song, because Taylor is telling her ex-girlfriend what she would do if they could resume dancing.

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Dancing with our hands tied, however, is not completely free.  With that phrase, Taylor is not only describing the physical representation of her and her lover’s arms and hands tangled and intertwined.  She is telling us despite the dancing, there were always handcuffs, chains, restraints, hemming-in of their relationship.  And with her own relationship to her (queer) self.

Yeah, we were dancing

Taylor knows she left her lover hanging, and it’s her fault both of them are depressed.  Even though this is the central person in Taylor’s life she never acknowledges them publicly.  

And I had a bad feeling

But she already loses her important romances.  This is part of the reason why, even at the early stages of a relationship, Taylor is terrified to lose the love.  She senses it’s fickle and fears it could go away at any time (Question…  [Part 11]).  Taylor has suffered loss and loneliness with at least Emily, Dianna, and Karlie.  Emily was out of the band suddenly and Taylor felt sorry.  A fake article about Swiftgron went viral and Dianna erased her blog and tattoo then Taylor was only seen with her one more time.  Karlie’s timeline is complicated, but the last four albums tell us they couldn’t get on the same page about how to proceed with their relationship.  

But we were dancing

Taylor uses “universe” to show how far away she seems to her lover.  Fear causes Taylor’s priorities to be misaligned.  Her girlfriend feels neglected, lonely, awkward, forgotten, and depressed when Taylor does her celebrity thing (and the closeting that goes with it).  Taylor’s closeting relegated her soulmate to the background.  Since that is her gay-panic default behavior, the women aren’t surprised, but it ruins the relationships nonetheless.  

So, baby, can we dance

Taylor can’t let go of her soulmate–she’s a hostage to her feelings.  But Taylor is torn:  Her back is against the wall in regards to maintaining her public image–she must beard to be seen as straight and make money.   

I had a bad feeling

At times, both Taylor and Karlie were nervous about being sapphic.  In Call It What You Want Taylor tells Karlie (I hear her name in the song and can’t hear anything else) they don’t have to name what they are.  It speaks to Karlie being nervous about calling herself part of the LGBT community.  Taylor urges her to just go with it and don’t worry about labels–she just wants this love.  Yet, in Cruel Summer Taylor still paid a man to be her beard. Taylor’s lifelong defense mechanism is closeting so when she sees a shiny toy, this bad boy with a price, she bought it.  

But we were dancing

Taylor never makes her secret sapphic love her centerfold, thus her lover is a flight risk.  Even with the threat of losing her beloved, it always comes back to Taylor’s career (Question…  [Part 9]).  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor loves, but in secret.  Taylor uses dancing in Cowboy Like Me to misrepresent her sexuality to the rich folks. She dances with this other queer person to look outwardly romantic and mollify homophobic reactions (Question…  [Part 17]).  This is Taylor’s personal life:  She feels she has to dance and spin on her tiptoes, al-la Mirrorball, showing her audience, the media, and the general public everything they want to see.  The closet stifles Taylor, but also makes her feel safe, per Clean and Lavender Haze.

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

The shades of gray surrounding Taylor speak to a situation so complex it has to be deciphered with nuance (Question… [Part 13]).  Taylor had confusion, indecision, and doubt, letting her terror drive her actions.  Taylor fears for her image and how being LGBT might jeopardize business, so she pushes her lover away, despite wanting to hold onto her. 

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of just coming out with it.  All the anxiety kills the partnership.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Yeah, we were dancing

This is past tense (“were”).  And she loses these relationships to internalized homophobia and the closet time and time again (Question…  [Part 10]).  

(Ooh, we had our hands tied)

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding and secrets and lies is hurting their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

And I had a bad feeling

The night of Kissgate, Taylor went on a Kaylor-liking spree online, signaling some pre-gaming had occurred even before the 1975 concert.  Taylor drinks to calm her anxiety, and anything too gay makes her especially anxious.  She correlates the overwhelming feelings of Sapphic love with drunkeness.  Being drunk is cathartic and freeing, allowing inhibitions to be lowered.  But it can also make your head spin, cause you to go rogue, and can make you throw up on the street (Question…  [Part 11]).  The night Taylor is talking about in Question…  she was “on something” is both liquor and the high of gay love (Question…  [Part 11]).  

But we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

During the break-ups Taylor is emotionally raw.  She oscillates between sadness, reminiscing, empathy, and anger.  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor’s early romances ended nearly the same as her current romance has ended.  She has always felt regretful about her situation and wishes the lover would show up below her window.  But there are just too many secrets, lies, miscommunications, and accusations complicating things.  For example, Betty, a highly autobiographical allegory for Taylor’s real life, shows a common conflict of closeting and bearding.  James (aka Taylor) was nowhere to be found, because she hates the crowds (creates a spectacle wherever she goes).  But she saw Betty dance with HIM, which James/Taylor misconstrued as legitimate. It’s just like reality where bearding is sometimes pulled off too well, creating jealousy and mistrust.  In both Betty and in Taylor’s real dating life, a chain of negative reactions follows the act of bearding and the relationship between the female lovers suffers.  So after being pushed away by Taylor’s closeting, instead of throwing pebbles at Taylor’s window, the girlfriend actually leaves (Question…  [Part 14]).   Then, there is just sadness about what will never be. 

Yeah, we were dancing

Drinking and getting drunk mark Taylor’s journey of grief after the split (Question… [Part 11]).  She regretfully remembers how she contributed to their split, and woefully wishes she could go back to their happy moments.

And I had a bad feeling

Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of impending fire, and the invisible smoke hangs over her.  The smoke (hint of a fire) is unrealized events that Taylor fears.  The heat of the fire is every time Taylor is overtly gay and too many people notice.  The (anticipated) fire is getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed. The water rushing in is damage control by Taylor’s PR team.  The rain is Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  It’s rain, a naturally occurring event (vs. firefighting, a planned, aggressive action) because Taylor yields to her team’s straight-washing, and feels regretful about her own.   Taylor suffers because she loves the gal, but also knows how “out(ed)” celebrities lose their fame and die all alone.

But we were dancing

Without her lover, Taylor is in the gray of sadness, loneliness, and isolation (Question…  [Part 13]).  

Hands tied, hands tied

In the case of Kissgate and Kaylor, I think Taylor wanted to go to The Lakes and be a private couple, just the two of them.  But I suspect Karlie felt obligated to be with Jo$h, and still wanted to be with Taylor, as attested by Ivy.  Taylor couldn’t go along with that because of distress about losing control, apprehension about the unknown, and antipathy of those political associations (Question…  [Part 10]).  Taylor’s break-up with her lover kills her.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Karlie politely lived with being hidden and put on the back burner, until she didn’t (Question…  [Part 10]).  She eventually left the deprivation of the closet which erased her.  Karlie “married” the guy or commissioned her new heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]).  Now both Taylor and Karlie are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out (“do you wish you could still touch her?”) grieving for the living.

This turns into Question…

If I could dance with you again

I’d kiss you as the lights went out

Swaying as the room burned down

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

If I could dance with you again

BUT

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Chains and Restraints [Part R]

17 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

We’ve discussed how Taylor construes “dance” to mean having no inhibitions. She talks about how children are willing to dance without shame in Fifteen. The word is used to show the elation, relief, and liberation of being herself, as in the song, Long Live (Question…  [Part 17]).  Slightly adjacent to being in an uninhibited, unflappable mode relating to her queerness (NOT her default state of anxiety and fear) Taylor uses “dance” to express allegiance and belonging. When she dances in Welcome to New York it shows that Taylor found people that accept her and “Dance” is used to show affiliation with these urban queers. Same with Beautiful Ghosts. She “dances” or unites with these other gay people because that’s who she is, and they integrate her into their chosen family (Question…  [Part 17]).  The preponderance of “dancing” in Taylor’s catalog is relaxation and ease with her innate sexuality.  

Dancing with our Hands Tied, however, is not completely free.  With that phrase, Taylor is not only describing the physical representation of her and her lover’s arms and hands tangled and intertwined.  She is telling us despite the dancing, there were always handcuffs, chains, restraints, hemming-in of their relationship.  And with her own relationship to her (queer) self.

This bejeweled dress also looks like chains, shackling Taylor Swift into her public image. With the money she makes from her brand, comes the forced closeting and bearding and straightwashing. “Where’s that man who threw blankets over my barbed wire?” in Tolerate It [a song about people not accepting Taylor’s sexuality] shows how the TS brand hides Taylor’s barbed wire (rough edges, sexuality) by propping a man next to her. The song is telling us Taylor beards to hide her sexuality. Invisible String reiterates how Taylor the brand looks beautiful dripping in jewels, but Taylor the person is restrained by these same gems. “Something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire/Chains around my demons…”

Taylor loves, but in secret.  Taylor uses dancing in Cowboy Like Me to misrepresent her sexuality to the rich folks. She dances with this other queer person to look outwardly romantic and mollify homophobic reactions (Question…  [Part 17]).  This is Taylor’s personal life:  She feels she has to dance and spin on her tiptoes, al-la Mirrorball, showing her audience, the media, and the general public everything they want to see.  The closet stifles Taylor, but also makes her feel safe, per Clean and Lavender Haze. It’s no accident the gold mirrorball dress also has the jewel/chains. She is shining for others, but the mirrorball mentality also keeps her tied up in that image.

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of opening up and coming out.  All the anxiety kills the partnership.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding, and secrets, and lies are hurting their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

Taylor’s early romances ended nearly the same as her current romance has ended.  She has always felt regretful about her situation and wishes the lover would show up below her window.  But there are just too many secrets, lies, miscommunications, and accusations complicating things.  For example, Betty, a highly autobiographical allegory for Taylor’s real life, shows a common conflict of closeting and bearding.  James (aka Taylor) was nowhere to be found, because she hates the crowds (creates a spectacle wherever she goes).  But she saw Betty dance with HIM, which James/Taylor misconstrued as legitimate. It’s just like reality where bearding is sometimes pulled off too well, creating jealousy and mistrust. 

In both Betty and in Taylor’s real dating life, a chain of negative reactions follows the act of bearding and the relationship between the female lovers suffers.  So after being pushed away by Taylor’s closeting, instead of throwing pebbles at Taylor’s window, the girlfriend actually leaves (Question…  [Part 14]).   Then, there is just sadness about what will never be. 

In the case of Kissgate and Kaylor, I think Taylor wanted to go to The Lakes and be a private couple, just the two of them.  But I suspect Karlie felt obligated to be with Jo$h, and still wanted to be with Taylor, as attested by Ivy.  There is a back and fourth in that song. Taylor is anxious at the impending doom of Karlie’s wedding (among other things) and Karlie answers, trying to assuage Taylor’s fear of the Ku$hners burning the house down. These lines (starting from “How’s one to know” are from Karlie’s perspective:

Karlie lived and died for her affair with Taylor despite an upcoming deadline with Jo$h. Taylor gets afraid and tells Karlie to just go to the guy, but Karlie asks Taylor to sit with her, drinking Jo$h’s wine, and wait and see what Kaylor can be. Karlie, further says all of this is under Taylor’s control. Karlie’s pain is in Taylor’s freezing hands, but she wants to hold on to Taylor. Even though Karlie has made a commitment that is soon to start, she says Taylor impacted her and she can’t pretend their love isn’t centered in her life. Karlie didn’t choose to fall in love with Taylor, and she acknowledges that falling in love with Taylor is messing up the future that she had long ago planned, but it happened. Karlie is covered in the invasive, inconvenient ivy of Taylor’s love. Taylor couldn’t go along with continuing an affair with a married Karlie because of distress about losing control, apprehension about the unknown, and antipathy of those political associations (Question…  [Part 10]). 

Because each of their hands are tied due to bearding, Kaylor had to stop “dancing” despite truly loving one another. Taylor’s break-up with her lover kills her.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Karlie politely lived with being hidden and put on the back burner, until she didn’t (Question…  [Part 10]).  She eventually left the deprivation of the closet which erased her.  Karlie went ahead and “married” the guy or more accurately, commissioned this heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]). 

Now both Taylor and Karlie are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out (“do you wish you could still touch her?”) grieving for the living.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Dance is Uninhibited Associations [Part Q]

15 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

If I could dance with you again

This is a regretful thought after the fact. Taylor and her lover have stopped dancing.  It’s the literal dancing of Kissgate, but “Dance” is also being unbothered and happy-go-lucky in her queerness. It’s a state Taylor enters only with this specific person per Holy Ground (Question…  [Part 17]).  In other songs, Taylor uses the word, “dance” to show intimacy between two people.  In Dancing with our Hands Tied, Taylor is telling her ex-girlfriend what she would do if they could resume dancing.

Taylor knows she left her lover hanging, and it’s her fault both of them are depressed.  Even though this is the central person in Taylor’s life she never acknowledges them publicly.  Taylor uses “universe” in other songs to show how far away she seems to the lover. 

Fear causes Taylor’s priorities to be misaligned.  Her lover feels neglected, lonely, awkward, forgotten, and depressed when Taylor does her celebrity thing (and the closeting that goes with it).  Taylor’s closeting relegated her lover to the background.  Since that is her gay-panic default behavior, the lovers aren’t surprised, but it ruins the relationships nonetheless.  

Taylor can’t let go of her soulmate–she’s a hostage to her feelings.  Despite her anxiety about gay-stigma, she does love this woman. But Taylor is torn:  Her back is against the wall in regards to maintaining her public image–she must beard to be seen as straight and make money.  Taylor never makes her secret sapphic love her centerfold, thus her lover is a flight risk. 

Even with the threat of losing her beloved, it always comes back to Taylor’s career (Question…  [Part 9]).  The shades of gray surrounding Taylor speak to a situation so complex it has to be deciphered with nuance (Question… [Part 13]).  Taylor had confusion, indecision, and doubt, letting her fear drive her actions.  She fears for her image and how being LGBT might jeopardize business, so Taylor pushes her lover away, despite wanting to hold onto her.  It puts their relationship in this gray area too.

And she loses these relationships to internalized homophobia and the closet time and time again (Question…  [Part 10]).  During the break-ups Taylor is emotionally raw.  She oscillates between sadness, reminiscing, empathy, and anger.  Drinking and getting drunk mark Taylor’s journey of grief after the split (Question… [Part 11]).  Without her lover, Taylor is in the gray of sadness, loneliness, and isolation (Question…  [Part 13]). 

That’s why Taylor is thinking about what she would have done if she could do the whole thing again.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Smoke is Worry [Part P]

14 Jan

Logistics:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

And I had a bad feeling

Taylor is chronically anxious about a lot of things.   Primarily, (and in her words) her house (physical embodiment of her sensibilities) is haunted (gay) (Question…[Part 6].  Taylor feels torn between her “aberrant” sexuality and being seen as the ideal woman, or at least politically correct.  It’s a struggle for Taylor to be authentic to who she is, but also appeal to a wide swath of people to maintain her fame (Question… [Part 12]).  She’s gay, rattled, and drunk, yet she projects hyper-femininity and confidence to be palatable to the masses.   Throughout Taylor’s life her sexuality caused her to hide, panic, and scheme. 

The middle of the night is a time for Taylor to ruminate and contemplate why she is in cages.  Taylor is a super-star. Her every move is published for the world to judge. A primary problem is that Taylor has to retract central parts of her branding if she wants to be open about her sexuality.  If she sticks to the tenants of the Taylor Swift brand, Taylor, the individual, must closet and beard (Question…  [Part 6]).  She has strife about this difficult choice, because Taylor worries that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything.  

But Taylor already loses her important romances.  This is part of the reason why, even at the early stages of a relationship, Taylor is terrified to lose the love.  She senses it’s fickle and fears it could go away at any time (Question…  [Part 11]).  Taylor has suffered loss and loneliness with at least Emily, Dianna, and Karlie.  Emily was out of the band suddenly and Taylor felt sorry.  A fake article about Swiftgron went viral and Dianna erased her blog and tattoo then Taylor was only seen with her one more time.  Karlie’s timeline is complicated, but the last four albums tell us they couldn’t get on the same page about how to proceed with their relationship.  For instance, Call It What You Want tells Karlie [I hear her name in the song and can’t hear anything else] they don’t have to name what they are.  It speaks to Karlie being nervous about calling herself Sapphic.  Taylor urges her to just go with it and don’t worry about labels–she just wants this love. 

Yet, in Cruel Summer Taylor still paid a man to be her beard. Taylor’s lifelong defense mechanism is closeting so when she sees a shiny toy, this bad boy with a price, she bought it.  

The night of Kissgate, Taylor went on a Kaylor-liking spree online, signaling some pre-gaming had occurred even before the 1975 concert.  Taylor drinks to calm her anxiety, and anything too gay makes her especially anxious.  She correlates the overwhelming feelings of Sapphic love with drunkeness.  Being drunk is cathartic and freeing, allowing inhibitions to be lowered.  But it can also make your head spin, cause you to go rougue, and can make you throw up (the blurple color shows she’s gay inside) on the street (Question…  [Part 11]).  The night Taylor is talking about in Question…  she was “on something” is both liquor and the high of gay love (Question…  [Part 11]).  

Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of impending fire, and the invisible smoke hangs over her.  The smoke (hint of a fire) is unrealized events that Taylor fears.  The heat of the fire is every time Taylor is overtly gay and too many people notice.  The (anticipated) fire is getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed. The water rushing in is damage control by Taylor’s PR team. 

The rain is Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  It’s rain, a naturally occurring more passive event (vs. firefighting, a planned, aggressive action). Taylor uses rain to describe herself putting out the gay fire to show it’s compulsory and imposed when she yields to her team’s straight-washing. It makes her feel safe, yet contrite.  

Taylor suffers because she loves the gal, but also knows how “out(ed)” celebrities lose their fame and die all alone.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Drowning in Straight PR is a Comfort to Taylor Swift [Part O]

13 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

Taylor is describing that in her re-do of this kissing in public event, she would hold her lover even with her team commencing operation straight-wash.  The water rushing in (PR and a return to closeting) is putting out the fire (being outed as gay).  Instead of feeling relieved with the re-closeting, Taylor wishes she would have prioritized her lover and embraced their relationship.  

Part of Taylor wants to choose authentic love, and the woman. She started fighting for her love, arguing with her team about downplaying the event that outed her.  “The water [PR damage control] filled my lungs [was big and overwhelming] I screamed so loud [protested against going back into the closet], But no one heard a thing.”  Nobody listened to Taylor and she submitted, “Hung my head as I lost the war.” The war is Taylor’s conflict with her team–she [briefly] wanted to be honest and authentic about the event, but they thought it would be bad for the brand.  

But it is also the conflict within herself.  As the face of the TS brand, Taylor has a lot of power over her image. It’s ultimately her that is conflicted, thus weak at pushing back against her team. Clean describes Taylor’s struggle: “There was nothing left to do…When the butterflies turned to dust that covered my whole room.”  As much as Taylor wants to come out and be free to love her soulmate, her fears of losing everything are stronger.  Remembering how the butterflies crumble to dust and Taylor is unhappy and alone, she had momentary bravery and pushed back against her team’s damage control.  But her fear took over, and in the end she helped the cover-up, “So I punched a hole in the roof, Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you.”   Being open with her sexuality is frightening, unknown territory to Taylor–like the depths that she dreaded and hated in Marjory.  

“And the sky turned black like a perfect storm” shows that hiding won out after the actual event. Taylor’s team jumped in and shut down the gossip, as they’ve done every time Taylor is caught being too gay with a woman (Emily suddenly quit under unusual circumstances, Liz was fired, Dianna’s blog, tattoo, and presence were erased, and Kaylor boarded up the windows, going private).  Taylor’s team literally paid people to withhold quality videos and good pictures of Kissgate from public view.  Taylor transitioned safely back into her comfort zone–the closet. 

Water rushing in is describing the same emotions as the song Clean.  This fire (getting nearly outed) threatened to consume Taylor and everything around her.  Then “Rain came pouring down” and the fire and smoke were being quelled.  “When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe” is saying when Taylor was surrounded by PR, it was a relief.  At least Taylor isn’t anxious about the unknown when she’s cloaked in secrecy within the closet.  She knows what to expect, and feels protected by the familiarity.  Her ruminations were momentarily gone.

Taylor’s team arranged it so the gay event never happened.  “And by morning/Gone was any trace of you”  The internet and the relationship were scrubbed.  “I think I am finally clean’ is the image-rehabilitation that pushed her back into the closet and shut-down her addiction to women’s touch.  The isolation and depression engulf her in gray and Taylor is regretful about her circumstances, but doesn’t see a way to change them (Question…  [Part 13]).