Tag Archives: fame

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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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- Taylor wishes she would have embraced her lover despite the fire [Part N]

12 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?

Swaying as the room burned down

Taylor continues the fantasy of what she wished she would have done in her regretful re-do of the situation:  Taylor would have kept dancing (other songs told us this means uninhibited/free and romantically affiliated with her lover) (Question…  [Part 17]).  Taylor, despite fears of her career going up in flames, would have embraced her lover openly, indifferent to everyone looking.

This has been a lifelong struggle for Taylor, and she sings way back in 2008 that it’s bothering her.  Taylor feels lonely at her new apartment in Fifteen.  When Taylor is saying never grow up, it’s interesting she brings up being burned and scarred by love as her primary concern.  Does Taylor wish she never grew up, because when she was little (seven and prior) she didn’t know she was gay?  She was just her, no stigma, and she wishes she could go back to that?  In the song, Taylor spirals into the anxious thought that everything she has will be gone at some point.  Taylor fears that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything (Question…  [Part 10]).

The Archer further 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 (Question…  [Part 16]).  The smoke is a whiff of what could happen–it precedes fire.  She has to be very, very sneaky about hiding the gay-affair, or he (a husband, prying eyes, the media) will burn their house of love down. 

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. This feared fire is talking about getting outed in any scenario, Taylor just uses this specific example for Dancing with our Hands Tied and Question… because a specific story makes for better writing than talking in generalities.  This sentiment is bigger than any single moment in time.  

When Taylor is caught kissing a woman, her fears come to fruition.  She imagines the worst outcome, and is anxious, but the consequences are all in her mind so far. That’s the smoke.  A prelude to the actual bad event.  It’s Taylor’s anxieties and fears.  Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of the impending fire, and the invisible smoke (ruminations of the worst case scenarios) hangs over her (Question…  [Part 16]).  Every time Taylor is gay on main and too many people notice– the smoke becomes perceptible.  

When there’s only smoke, there is time to quell any fire.  That’s the damage control by Taylor’s PR team and Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  She wants to keep her fans and fame, but the recompense hurts her relationship with the woman.  When Taylor pushes her straightness by lying and amping up the bearding, her lover is hurt by the closeting.  For instance, Karlie stares at Joe like he’s an understudy, knowing that she would fight (Bad Blood) for Taylor. A million lies and many chances are breaking the branches that this relationship so carefully balances on.  All the closeting and hiding chips away at the love.  Taylor’s smoke ruins her most important romantic relationships every time.  Recently, Karlie suggests in Ivy that Kaylor take a risk and stay together.  Even with the “husband” in the picture (“drink my husband’s wine” = Jo$h’s wine). 

But Taylor is afraid of being out.  In Delicate Taylor also says she doesn’t wanna share, and the politics of it would hurt Taylor’s image.  Consequently, Cardigan talks about how Taylor’s secret lover finally “ran like water” “steppin’ on the last train” because of Taylor’s stipulations (must be private, and it’s me or him) (Question…  [Part 16]).

Which brings us back to Daylight:  “clearing the air I breathed in the smoke.”  The smoke Taylor breathes in when trying to clear the air is Taylor holding onto imagined negative outcomes.  She is hypervigilant about running damage control and overcorrecting any even slightly gay situation.  The pain of picking closeting over the love of her life, time and time again, makes Taylor feel asphyxiated (Question…  [Part 16]).  

Dancing with our Hands Tied- I would have kissed you in a crowded room [Part M]

11 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 kiss you as the lights went out

This lyric is the big connection to Question…!  Taylor is talking about what she would have done (“I’d”).  In her regretful imaginary re-do of the situation, Taylor says she would calmly and happily kiss this woman that she privately loves–in front of everybody (instead of reacting negatively). 

Her secret lover introduces conflict into Taylor’s self-identity.  She’s running smoothly along, being super-straight, dating boys, but then…  She has this attraction to a woman, which clashes with her perception of herself, and with her persona (Question…  [Part 13]).  “He looks up, grinning like the devil” is the culmination of Taylor’s fears.  Someone or something is undermining Taylor’s brand-image and the heaven inside this relationship.  It might be Karlie’s beard/husband, and/or the public scrutiny and judgment about sapphic love or all of that.  Whoever it is, the exposure terrifies Taylor and causes an anxiety-spiral.

This lyric is the same regretful sentiment that’s in the song, Betty.  James/Taylor is remorseful about flying off the handle in that crucial public moment and to rectify it wants to kiss Betty/her female lover in front of her stupid friends (the media, fans, & public) (Question…  [Part 17]).  It’s a recurring thought how Taylor wishes she would have kissed her woman out in the open.  Betty continues “If you kiss me will it be just like I dreamed it?” The regret in these re-do fantasies, tells the audience that this is not how Taylor acted in the crucial moment.  She is contrasting what she wished she would have done with what actually occurred.

I think this moment has a similar vibe to New Years Day. Lights don’t necessarily go out at 12:01 AM on New Years, but  the midnight kiss is the culmination of the celebration. Taylor wants to be able to kiss her secret female lover at the party (“I want your midnights”).  Instead, they clean up the mess the next day when everyone else is asleep or hungover in order to keep their affair on the down-low. Due to closeting, Taylor and her girlfriend never get to have that special moment (like all the other couples) at the peak of the festivities.

Lights go out can also indicate an emergency.  Instances of lights suddenly turning off include:  A power-outage due to a storm or a blackout during war (both scenarios are discussed in other songs regarding this same topic).  Taylor is comparing kissing her lover in public to some emergent situation. 

The lights turning off might also be saying Taylor’s name in lights (The Lucky One), switched off because of this kissing.  Her fame turned off because of this gay moment (this was what Taylor feared would happen in that fraught moment). 

Finally, the lights going out might show the love going dark and cold as a result of Taylor’s gay-panic.

Taylor wishes she could just kiss her secret sapphic lover in public.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Avalanche of Chemistry [Part K]

8 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?

Oh, through an avalanche?

An avalanche is a sudden onslaught/deluge of an overwhelming amount of snow sliding down a mountain.  Once the motion stops, the snow settles like concrete, suffocating anything underneath. An avalanche is extremely destructive, often leveling an entire slab of ecosystem and leaving no survivors.  

The use of “avalanche” to describe dancing with a woman in public demonstrates the authenticity of Taylor’s alarm.  She wants to be regarded as the ‘good girl’ and remain a famous pop-star.  She is distressed that her sexuality will leave an empty slab, leveling her career and suffocating her and everyone around her.  Taylor can’t let herself go rogue, and come out of the closet for fear of losing everything.  

She dances around it, and tells white lies to protect herself from this abominable outcome.  But as will be the case throughout her love life, the deceit along with overthinking and assumptions crush every relationship.  The avalanche didn’t raze her career, it pulverized Taylor’s sapphic relationships instead (Question… [Part 4]).

And say, say that we got it

This lover came into Taylor’s life and offered emotional and physical love, gaining Taylor’s trust.  There was mutual devotion for every part of the other–in private.  All Taylor’s sadness was rectified and regaled to the background by the intense romance these two shared.  The stars around scars in Cardigan symbolize positivity, warmth, and love.  The scars are still there, but those positive feelings were able to supersede the pain (Question…  [Part 15]).  It’s not just Taylor and her lover that notice their compatibility.  Their love is palpable, noticeable by most.  Their friends, the media, and YouTube viewers can see their undeniable chemistry.

But as time goes on, the predicaments outnumber the happy times.  The crescent moon in Ivy shows the passage of time through the changing phases of the moon.  Though there are accumulating detriments to this sapphic relationship, neither woman is ready to break-up. Taylor still loves her girlfriend despite all the “fights and flaws.”  And in Peace, Karlie doubles down on her love and level of commitment.  Karlie says she will warm Taylor’s heart to cast off Taylor’s waves of depression.  The love Karlie feels for Taylor is not for show, and even though Kaylor has many, many dilemmas, Karlie would sit in the trenches with Taylor, give her a child and she would even die for Taylor.  But time has passed and the affair has to adapt.   The moon phases and seasons passing in that song shows the end of this romance is imminent (Question…  [Part 15]).

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Sacred Oasis Threatened by Gossip [Part H]

5 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?

And darling, you had turned my bed into a sacred oasis

Taylor says they went from friends to this and she has dirty dreams about this former friend, turned lover in Paper Rings.  Taylor also reveals that her and Karlie have a private relationship inside her room, in King of my Heart, because the boys never took her where Karlie does [same, girl] (Question…  [Part 2]). 

By definition, an oasis is in the middle of an arid land. Taylor is describing her life as a desert. She’s alone in a harsh environment that lacks necessities, and is dangerous. This person revived Taylor and supplied the love she needed to survive.

End Game describes how the body is gold, the eyes make Taylor drunk on love, and this person has captured her very soul.  

But at the same time Taylor can’t forget all the drama and how her reputation suffered.   Because the couple represents a vilified form of love, Taylor feels she has to conceal the relationship.  Still, Taylor was unable to leave this illicit romance even though closeting is depressing. 

Time and time again Taylor chose her career and the closet over her lovers, and all she’s left with is memories and regrets [Question…  [Part 10]).

People started talking, putting us through our paces

Taylor’s career  is never far from her mind, and she worries how people will judge her.  She has to worry about media scrutiny as well. Taylor knows if she dated a woman (publicly) it would be a big conversation, and there would be a lot of negative reactions.  Even when she’s swept away by the strongest desires for women, Taylor is still worried about public disapproval [Question…  [Part 14]).  

A lot of external quagmires such as Snakegate have pulled Taylor down in addition to her hesitation over her sexuality (Question…  [Part 15]).  She has dealt with frenemies who betrayed her, so Taylor has a difficult time trusting people.  Sadly, Taylor is not really all that close to anyone, except for her mom, and (at times) her baby.  

Taylor’s super-fame is not relatable and it isolates her.  So many of Taylor’s friends (her publicist, Tree, for example) are people on her pay-role, or mutually beneficial superficial work friends.  The other people around Taylor are in the background just getting drunk, high, and laughing.  But these people cannot be counted on (“we’ll never say that word again”). There are queer friends who have the same trauma as Taylor, but because of closeting she can’t truly and openly be too close to them (Question…  [Part 5]).  Taylor’s support system is connected with her brand, so Taylor the person is overlooked.  As a result, Taylor’s romantic relationships suffer.  She is too focused on external opinions and validation, and her lovers are relegated to the back-burner a lot of times.  Taylor uses “universe” to show how far away she seems to her lover in Coney Island (Question…  [Part 15])

Since Taylor just can’t/won’t come out and live openly, and she’s left feeling alone and melancholy.

But career intact (Question… [Part 8]).

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Molded for Capitalism [Part C]

27 Dec

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?

Oh, how were you to know, and

At the start of her career, Taylor was too credulous, not realizing people have ulterior motives.  Over time, she learned to be more skeptical and less open. 

Adults began to refurbish Taylor to maximize her audience (and their profits).  She submitted to these public relations refinements and machinations when she was young and naïve.  Once she had the map of what is required to succeed, Taylor began to refurbish her own image.  She embraced and continued the PR ruse.  Still, there was a cost.  Her love-life suffers by being stifled so much that the flame is snuffed out.  

Over the last 15 years of Taylor’s career, acceptance of queer artists has evolved.  Yet Taylor has already boxed herself in.  If she doesn’t closet, Taylor’s most loyal fans that believed her every word along the way, will be disillusioned and irate that she lied to them.  (Question…[Part 6].

Question… Taylor Keeps Repeating the Same Old Pattern that Ultimately Makes her Miserable [Part 14]

12 Dec

Taylor wins the pronoun game.  I’m not even going to try to untangle the speaker/recipient/changing characters in this song.  It was written so convoluted that I haven’t even seen a satisfactory answer to this yet.  Instead, I took lyric snippets from other songs featuring the same word, to get a feeling about Taylor’s sentiment and even subject. Don’t get overwhelmed with the length of this post.  The word I’m trying to point-out from Question… lyrics is highlighted. 

I was going along the lyrics of Question… in the order Taylor wrote them. But I have one small piece that fits best with this entry, but if I put it at the end, it ruins the flow. So just here I’m going to mix the Question… lyrics to make my analysis have the arc I want it to.

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

Make fun:

Gorgeous

We already know from Enchanted that Taylor enjoys conversation and banter, and I’d bet that this making fun of the way someone talks is part of that. Taylor is enamored with this cool, Gorgeous person in the song. And she’s magnetized to the (gal. We’re going with female because I don’t think guys are really called gorgeous) despite Taylor’s “boyfriend” that she doesn’t care what he’s doing.

I just may like to have a conversation

Conversation:

Enchanted

stay beautiful

holy ground

end game

other side of the door

sad, beautiful, tragic

I think it’s safe to say that one of, if not the primary, love languages for Taylor is communication.  And it makes sense since she’s obviously a lover of words.  These songs convey how witty repartee is a necessary part of wooing Taylor Swift.  Enchanted mentions a physical attraction, but the banter is what really gets Taylor going.  She thinks about this person all the way home and wonders if they’re single, or if they even date women (“who do you love?”).  Taylor reiterates communication is key in Stay Beautiful, where talking to this person is the highlight of Taylor’s day.  It makes her nervous, and even though this person takes her breath away she finds it difficult to talk.  

Holy Ground tells about a mutual understanding between two people.  There is an unspoken familiarity that helps each individual put everything else aside to enjoy being unexpectedly captivated. They don’t require banter, because they are already close from the beginning.  And it’s the first time Taylor feels love (vs. comp-het).  She has something to lose because she actually has real feelings.

But, but, but Taylor’s career and people’s perception of her is never far from her mind.  Even when she’s swept away by the strongest desires for women, she is still worried about judgment.  End Game describes how the body is gold, the eyes make her drunk on love, and this person has captured her very soul.  But at the same time Taylor can’t forget all the drama and how her reputation suffered.  Taylor knows if she dated a woman it would be a big conversation, and a lot of negative reactions.

The pain of closeting and not pursuing the one you love out of fear of social rejection is spelled out in On the Other Side of the Door.  Taylor tells white lies to protect herself from being outed.  But as will be the case throughout her love life, those lies break down the relationship.  Taylor needs this person in the little black dress, but pushes her away out of self-preservation and fear.  And when the gal actually leaves instead of throwing pebbles at Taylor’s window, Taylor cries.  Her early romances ended nearly the same as her current romance has ended.  Taylor loves, but in secret.  The partner doesn’t like the pain of being in the closet.  Taylor fears for her image and how that might hurt her career, so she pushes her lover away, despite wanting to hold onto them.  Then, Taylor is left alone and sad. 

It’s a pattern Taylor has repeated over and over, and Question… is a song about that habitual reaction to fear of being outed.

Question… The word Drinking/Drunk is in at Least 16 Taylor Swift Songs [Part 11]

9 Dec

Taylor wins the pronoun game.  I’m not even going to try to untangle the speaker/recipient/changing characters in this song.  It was written so convoluted that I haven’t even seen a satisfactory answer to this yet.  Instead, I took lyric snippets from other songs featuring the same word, to get a feeling about Taylor’s sentiment and even subject. Don’t get overwhelmed with the length of this post.  The word I’m trying to point-out from Question… lyrics is highlighted. 

Out of time, she was on your mind

With some di–head guy that you saw that night

But you were on something

It was one drink after another, f—ing politics and gender-roles

Drink:

I only used “drink” and “drunk” not any specific alcohol because that would have a slightly different connotation.

Gorgeous 

Delicate

London Boy

Taylor doesn’t flirt with this woman until she gets drunk.  Then she conveys that she doesn’t know or care where her “boyfriend” is.  Taylor says her life is ruined because this gorgeous person isn’t hers.  The same pattern follows:  Taylor and this person get a drink on a secretive date at the dive bar in Delicate.  There is anxiety in the song, and Taylor drinks to quell it, as well as an excuse for a hang out.  In the song “for Joe,” London Boy, Taylor enjoys having a drink in the afternoon in Soho–which just happens to be London’s prime gay spot.

I think in all of these instances, Taylor is leaning on drinking because she’s fretting about many things.  She’s anxious about being Sapphic, she is concerned the girl won’t like her back, or that she’ll think Taylor is coming in too hot.  And Taylor is afraid about how the bearding and WLW and the public perception will play out.  Taylor drinks to chill.  

Blank Space

Dress

Cornelia Street

In Blank Space, Taylor mocks the media’s image of her as a crazy ex-girlfriend.  She simultaneously shares her bearding modus operandi.  She manages to get a THIRD layer into this song by talking about getting drunk on jealousy.  She doesn’t wanna share her actual lover.  Dress also uses “drunk” as a double-entendre.  There is a description of a secret, private intimate moment of spilling wine in the bathtub.  The love her and her lover share is also making her drunk with happiness and a type of attraction she’s never felt before.  Cornelia Street makes this same comparison.  This new love is unfamiliar, they are starting on a fresh page and writing as they go.  Even so, the love is stronger than anything they order at the bar.  Being drunk can be fun, it allows inhibitions to be lowered.  But it can also make your head spin, cause you to act a fool, and can make you sick.  Taylor compares Sapphic love to that experience of drinking too much.  And even at this early stage of new love, Taylor is terrified to lose the love.  She senses it’s fickle and fears it could go away at any time.

Getaway Car

Cruel Summer

Taylor tells us listeners why she is so afraid to lose this new love:  There is a third person involved.  The lovers were mindlessly enjoying each other, Taylor drinking in the love and the whiskey, but the third person was pursuing them.  Taylor says 3 is not a love story, it’s a circus.  And that is why their love is cursed–the 3rd person ruined it.

Cruel Summer seems like the chapter after Getaway Car.  Taylor explains how she was crying in the back of the car, because even though she originally agreed to a no strings attached situation, she caught real and strong feelings.  She is IN love with this lover, and the subject is taken aback, possibly reluctant to enter into something serious with Taylor.  We are not told if the lover isn’t into Taylor, if she doesn’t want to acknowledge she’s Sapphic, or if she feels strongly loyal to her beard…  But the love isn’t flowing equally in both directions at this point in the narrative, hence the “ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?” line after declaring love.  Despite any misgivings, the lovers do not completely break up, Taylor and her lover sneak around.  Taylor goes in through the garden gate, entering into this complex love triangle, and losing herself in the secrets and love.

End Game

King of my Heart

End Game is a persuasive essay.  Taylor outlines a nice date of drinking and making out on the beach as the desirable mode for the relationship.  She says she’s serious about the romance, not just playing around.  And importantly, she is trying to entice her lover to pick her.  King of my Heart is persuasive also, but with a tinge of anger and some assumptions mixed in.  She indicates her and this love are off and on–they’re on the roof with plastic cups, spending the night together, but then there is an off period where Taylor doesn’t know if it’s the final ending.  Taylor jumps to the conclusion (or sees signs?) that her lover is not picking her, because the lover wants the finer things in life. Taylor thinks the lover choses money, and asks her lover to say their love alone is enough for her.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Cardigan

Ivy

My Tears Ricochet 

Drinking and getting drunk mark Taylor’s journey of grief after the split.  During the break-ups Taylor is emotionally raw.  She oscillates between sadness, reminiscing, empathy, and anger.

Sadness:  Death by a Thousand Cuts is how Taylor suffers during the break-up(s?).  Taylor tells how their plans all fell through.   She says “we” boarded up the windows. Her and her lover were not seen anymore in public, but were still together.  This lover impacted every part of Taylor:  emotional, physical, spiritual.  Taylor gave too much of herself to her lover, and it still wasn’t enough to keep this person in her life.  Now, she is lost without her lover so she just gets drunk.  But Taylor makes sure to tell her lover the chandelier is still flickering in the private place with the windows boarded up–in case her lover wants to return to their private romance.

Reminiscent:  Taylor fondly reminisces about many good times with her lover, and the positive impact that this person had on her life.  Drunk under streetlights, kissing in cars and in bars, sleeping over on weekends.  In Cardigan the lover was too friendly to Taylor’s enemies or bad people, and now the lover has run away from Taylor.  Even with these transgressions, the lover marked Taylor forever.  And at the end of the song Taylor repeats many times that she knew this lover would come back to her.  Is this a wish or dream, or DID the lover, in fact, return to Taylor like a favorite sweater that had been misplaced under the bed?

Empathy:  Ivy is Taylor’s idea (she wrote the song after all) of what Karlie might say.  Taylor always reached for Karlie’s hand, but Karlie’s hand in marriage was already promised to another.  That made Karlie feel loyalty about the prior promise, but also conflicted because she loves Taylor back.  Karlie says, she too, looked forward to these stolen, sneaky moments, though she always knew it would be for a finite time because of her prior commitment.  SHE says it’s Taylor who pushes her away, and tells her to run.  And Taylor’s hand is the chilly, distant one.  Karlie’s pain is in Taylor’s palm.  It’s Taylor that is in control of the outcome of their relationship.  Karlie lived and died for their time together and is willing to dare to see what happens if her and Taylor stay together, drinking (Karlie’s husband/beard) Jo$h’s wine.

Anger:  I don’t know if Taylor is discussing the master’s heist in regards to the SBs or if Karlie is mixed in the lyrics of My Tears Ricochet too.  The battleships and the waves remind me of Gold Rush, a definite Karlie song.  But the cursing and killing and wishing I’d stayed seems too strong for the Kaylor situation in my opinion.  It might just be anger in the stages of Taylor’s grief, or she might have thought or found out that Karlie had something to do with the masters sale to an enemy.

Mirrorball

Nothing New (TV)

Even with all the love upheaval, it always comes back to Taylor’s career.  As upset as her choices pertaining to her love life make her, she still prioritizes building a legacy.  Mirrorball describes how Taylor shows every different person what they want to see.  She is not authentic to herself, in trying to please everyone else.  She is wearing uncomfortable shoes, standing awkwardly and painfully on her tiptoes, and spinning and shining for her audience, the media, the general public…  I imagine holding such an unnatural physical and metaphorical position must be tiring and sometimes torturous, but Taylor is afraid the end is near so she withstands it.  She shatters and bleeds, but nobody notices, they just notice her sparkle.  Taylor does not want to age out of music, and she doesn’t want her reputation to go south again.  She tells us she will do anything to avoid those dire consequences.  

Like Mirrorball, Nothing New (TV) goes into Taylor’s fears.  She was just being a young woman and the media called her a goodie-goodie, but when she dated like any young person might, they attacked and slut-shamed her.  Taylor couldn’t win.  Women can’t win.  She reminds us that longstanding pop stars in the industry must constantly reinvent themselves or be retired as yesterday’s news.  Taylor puts on her best face, though it’s exhausting, but constantly worries a new younger, gal will usurp her.  People like a young, new thing and throw away women quickly.  Taylor ends the song by giving her younger self advice.  But knowing that the keys to career success lead to unhappiness, emptiness, and loneliness makes older, wiser Taylor sad to give this advice.  Taylor followed that very map, and as a result, is at the top of the music industry, yet she drinks herself to sleep, worrying about it being snatched away from her at any point.  I think the “miss me when they drive me out” means both driving/pushing/relegating her to retirement, and also wondering if people will remember her legacy after the hearse drives away.

Here’s the lyrics from Question… since it’s been many words since you saw them:

Out of time, she was on your mind

With some di–head guy that you saw that night

But you were on something

It was one drink after another, f—ing politics and gender-roles

Question… sums up the song analysis of every use of the word “drink” or “drunk” over Taylor’s albums. 

The dickhead guy is the 3rd person muddying up her relationship with her lover.  This is why Taylor is always afraid her lover will not chose her, this is why Taylor tries to persuade her lover to stay. This dickhead is ruining everything because Taylor’s lover previously made a commitment to him.

“Out of time” could mean the glass closeting was finished due to this kissing in a crowded room.  They would no longer be seen as “friends” in the media and to the public. “Out of time” could additionally mean that Taylor faced a decision to come out to her fans and live openly Sapphic with her lover or continue to closet and beard, but lose the lover.  “Out of time” could have the third meaning that the lover’s finite time having an affair with Taylor was over because the guy demanded the full commitment she had promised.  

“She was on your mind but you were on something/it was one drink after another.”  We know from the drink/drunk lyrics in other songs Taylor uses alcohol to calm her anxiety.  And dating a woman, being seen with her girlfriend causes her maximal anxiety. Taylor also compares Sapphic love to that experience of drinking too much. The night Taylor is talking about in Question…  she was “on something” is both liquor and the high of gay love.  Drinking is also used to describe stages of grief in many songs throughout Taylor’s catalog.  The same goes here, this kissing event, and the choices everybody made as a result of it, have put Taylor in the stages of grief.  And the final drink/drunk songs are Taylor’s fears that her career will end, and how she has to be what people want her to be for that not to happen.  There is kissing in a crowded room, and same as always Taylor picked her career and image over her lover–putting her in grief and despair once more.