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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- 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- The Mess You Wanted because We’re Gravity [Part L]

9 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’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted

This lyric is Taylor reminding her sapphic lover that they knowingly signed up for this. Taylor is saying she comes with a lot of baggage: Internal homophobia, anxiety, brand-pressures, media scrutiny, etc… Taylor’s feminine loves know the deal before they enter a situationship with her.  They know there will be bearding and closeting.  Everyone knows sapphic love with an A+ list celebrity is delicate, possibly short-lived. 

Karlie came into Taylor’s life at a low point and offered emotional and physical love, gaining Taylor’s trust.  There was mutual adoration and devotion for every part of the other–in private.  All the sadness, all the drama of 2016, was rectified and regaled to the background by the intense romance these two shared.  The stars 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]).  

Oh, ’cause it’s gravity

Oh, keeping you with me

Comparing this love to gravity reminds me of “All we are is skin and bone” in Treacherous.  Taylor is saying this love is natural and inescapable.  Just like the body systems that comprise us as humans lead to innate physiological outcomes (Question…  [Part 13]).  Taylor has desire and passion for this love interest that is beyond her control, even if she’s afraid of it.  

The use of “gravity” in the song is also like, This Love, which describes the tides dictating if the love interest is here or gone.  The word “swept” is an example of a force, like this love affair, that is stronger than individual choices (Question…  [Part 13]).  In the same way gravity is non-negotiable physics. 

There is an unseen exertion on these two women and they are pulled together (whether or not that works for them).  This woman makes Taylor feel like she’s coming undone because she has this strong attraction, but knows it will cause her trouble.  Their love is forbidden and dangerous (Question…  [Part 15]).  No matter how much strife their love causes in each of their lives, the force cannot be avoided.

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- Screaming Color & Damage Control [Part F]

30 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 was I to know that

“The rest of the world was black and white but we were in screaming color” from Out of the Woods describes Taylor overtly recognizing that sapphic love (vs. comp-het) and rouses her from the twenty year dark night. 

Afterward, Taylor sees the world with new eyes.  The blue is brighter and more unique in Delicate (Question…  [Part 3]).  Taylor had an awakening because of this novel love she felt for this new type of person (a woman).  Taylor further conveys this new knowledge that she’s queer in Me! When she describes herself as not like the others and mentions the rainbow of colors (pride flag, LGBTQQAA all represented).  

When Taylor moved to New York City to be with this woman, her priorities changed from boys and money–to love.  She sings that sapphic love feels like freedom and home (Question… [Part 2]).  Taylor even dares to dream of her future with a woman in It’s Nice to have a Friend.  Though the song seems to be about a childhood friendship, it also applies to this situation because Taylor had a twenty year pause in her development.  In her twenties, Taylor is right back at 7 years old just learning to love authentically.  She has trouble crossing the boundary into queerness because of her heteronormative conditioning.  But in both that childhood song and in NYC, the female best friend dares to touch her romantically and it sends Taylor’s thoughts to a future wedding.  She is coming around to the idea that, though gay love is not traditional or fully accepted, she might be able to be happy anyway (Question… [Part 8]).  

I could’ve spent forever with your hands in my pockets

Taylor is wistful here, saying could have been with this person forever, if only she had reacted differently to the dancing in public.  “Your hands in my pockets”  could mean Taylor and her girlfriend are hiding their figurative hand.  As in keeping poker cards close to the chest/vest (a secret) in order to win and make money.  Taylor could be saying that she wanted to stay lovers with this person forever, but hidden away from prying eyes.  YOUR hands in MY pockets also shows that these two were connected to each other.  Other songs tell us that sapphic love feels otherworldly to Taylor, becoming permanent like a tattoo.  But Karlie feels just as strongly. Putting her hands in Taylor’s pockets is an intimate (if not awkward) way to stand.  Going out of her way to hold Taylor, indicates how their love was reciprocal.  

In Ivy Karlie says Taylor is like clover and ivy, covering her.  In the song, Karlie also mentions how Taylor’s eyes are all she wishes to see.  In Peace Karlie assures Taylor that she can be the one to soothe Taylor’s depression, sit in the trenches with her, and she tells Taylor that her train could take Taylor home.  Furthermore, in both Peace and Ivy Karlie tells Taylor she would die for her. 

Unfortunately, Taylor’s priorities pertaining to her love-life are misaligned, and that hurts all of her girlfriends.  Taylor is already afraid she will age out of being an A+ pop star.  She already fears another backlash.  But Taylor’s biggest fear of all is being outed and losing her career (Question…  [Part 11]).  Which is why despite truly loving her woman, when Taylor is put in a corner about her sexuality, she always panics and denies it. 

Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer hurts her lovers.  It makes Taylor’s lovers feel depressed, neglected, lonely, awkward, and forgotten when Taylor does her celebrity thing (and the closeting that goes with it).

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Repression [Part D]

28 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?

My, my love had been frozen

Loving in shades of wrong.  Took a wrong turn.  Staying when it’s wrong.  The trend in all these “wrongs” is a stigmatized, “morally wrong” type of love (Question…  [Part 2]). Privileged (white, rich, female/straight-passing) Taylor, could love any dude and it would not be socially unacceptable.  I would say heterosexual behavior is conditioned from a young age and presumed as the default.  The love that is “tolerated,” the love that ruins relationships because it has to be cloistered, is sapphic love.  And Taylor told us in her Miss Americana documentary that she’s a people-pleaser and wants to fulfill that wholesome, pure, good girl social expectation (Question… [Part 2]). Queerness is in opposition to that mindset and goal.

In Seven Taylor says, “picture me….before I learned civility, I used to scream ferociously any time I wanted.”  At 7 years old Taylor’s thoughts and behaviors were intrinsic.  She acted viscerally, paying no attention to conventional rules and norms.  But as she aged she was molded to be socially acceptable and taught tact/virtue/compliance.  And in this rigidly patriarchal, heteronormative world, that means being a (straight) young lady (with feminine qualities) and hiding the socially objectionable (gay) parts of herself (Question…  [Part 16]).

The repression corresponds to the 20 year dark night mentioned in Daylight.  Taylor turned 30 years old the year that song was released, and twenty years prior to that was 1999, when Taylor was a 7-10 year old learning to sleep on her queerness for the sake of etiquette.  This was the start of Taylor stuffing down her innate sexuality, denying her attraction to women, and closeting when she couldn’t suppress her passion (Question…  [Part 16]).  She internalized these heteronormative [yup, that’s a form of homophobia] attitudes, offhandedly mentioning her and her love never painted by the numbers.  By framing their relationship as “different” or “weird” Taylor is telling us how the pressures to act straight are not just external, but internal as well. 

Except, the tarnished (stigmatized) touch was the only thing that made Taylor feel and come in from the cold, numbing snow.  Though Taylor was unthawed by this love, and her whole being was impacted, fear mostly wins out (Question…  [Part 8]).  Taylor keeps writing letters to come out about it, but ends up throwing them into the fire.  All the lies, closeting, and Taylor’s inability to be open causes all her greatest loves to die.  

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Self Realization & The Answer to WHO is 25 [Part B]

26 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?

First sight, yeah, we love without reason

Taylor is stunned that she’s “switched to the other side” and fallen in love with another woman (Question… [Part 10].  She yearns for this love interest lamenting that her passion is beyond her control–instinctual.  Taylor has an epiphany that despite her enthusiastically straight public façade, deep in her bones, encoded in her DNA–she’s queer. And she can’t live without her lover’s touch (Question… [Part 13]. 

This isn’t just about sex–witty repartee is part of the major beguilement.  Taylor is compelled to make fun of the way this captivating person talks (Question…[Part 14]).  Communication is a predominant love language for Taylor, and light mocking is the way she flirts.  She loves to trade quips and banter with this person.  They are on her level, and that makes them even more attractive to her. 

Though Taylor is swept up in this love, she still uses plausible deniability to maintain her straight image. The closeting behavior hurts these sapphic relationships, but happens so consistently that Taylor’s lovers don’t find this hurtful behavior surprising (Question… [Part 10].

Oh, twenty-five years old

It’s ambiguous if Taylor is the one that’s 25 or if this YOU is 25 since it goes from a WE to just OH (no indication of who).  No hints were given, and contextually it could be read either way. 

I, I [Taylor] loved you [mystery girl] in secret/First sight, yeah, we [both] love without reason
Oh, twenty-five years old
Oh, how were you to know, and/My, my love had been frozen/Deep blue, but you painted me golden/Oh, and you held me close/Oh, how was I to know that/I could’ve spent forever with your hands in my pockets

option 1: This 25 year old secret gal loves Taylor without reason. Taylor asks mystery gal how were you [the girl, still] to know my [Taylor’s] love had been frozen [repressed/closeted], and she [Taylor] had been depressed. Mystery gal fixed all that by holding Taylor close, putting her [the girl’s] hands in Taylor’s pockets, and painting her [Taylor] golden [optimistic, free to love]. Taylor says if things had been different [if Taylor had made a different choice about the event in this song] she [Taylor] could have been with mystery gal forever.

option 2: Taylor is 25 years old and falls in love with mystery gal, which had never happened to either of them [we love without reason]. Taylor acknowledges the gal wouldn’t have known that she [Taylor] has repressed her sexuality and that Taylor lives a closeted lifestyle, complete with bearding. Mystery gal committed to the relationship, held Taylor close, had hands in Taylor’s pockets, and made Taylor happy. But mystery gal wasn’t aware of Taylor’s terms for a same sex relationship, and was put off by Taylor’s overreaction to the event in this song. Because of Taylor’s choice in that moment their relationship fell apart.

Taylor didn’t use I or you in that line because she was talking about BOTH of her most important romantic relationships (Question…  [Part 18]).  Each public anniversary of her most important loves are addressed simultaneously.  Taylor is talking about when Dianna was 25 on their SMBP (cover for wedding-ish event) AND her Kaylor anniversary (when Taylor was 25 years old) which was presented to the world in Vogue. 

On one anniversary it’s her lover that’s 25 and on the other anniversary it’s Taylor that’s 25.  

The lyric is more about Taylor being open about her most cherished sapphic relationships, than it is about addressing the song to one person. Dancing with our Hands Tied is about Taylor’s struggles, her chronic behaviors, and the consequences. More to come!