Tag Archives: songs

Brandi Carlile’s Broken Horses-My Take

25 Jan

Broken Horses-

Is the best singing on the album. Brandi told Rolling Stone podcast that she didn’t want to look like she was just singing so strongly like this to show off. I say, there should be MORE belting the eff out. And less apologizing for showcasing talent. Show. the fuck. off, Brandi! Jesus the scream-note. Because I love the singing so much and think this is the best song (vocally) on this album, and towards the top in her catalogue, I honestly didn’t attend to the lyrics for the first 100 listens.

Wearing something inside your skin is quite the imagery. Brandi is telling us that leather (tough, of-nature, yet soft, versatile) was passed down from her father to her. And it’s not just something she can take off–the leather inside the skin is deeply ingrained. I don’t know who “you” is in this song. I don’t think it’s the partner referenced in the prior songs. Brandi insinuates this person somehow attacks her. I think the Sunday best means someone in a church, or someone really phony who uses their dress and manner to hide their sinister intentions. Telling that person they had better call their priest shows me maybe it’s someone in the congregation (from her denied-Baptism story?) telling Brandi she doesn’t belong?

Brandi says she has also worn the jester’s bells (funny, silly, clownish, naïve?). And she worshiped at the alter of a puppet-master. I think this means a religious leader had an expectation their congregation would be mindless and under his(?) total control without thought or push-back. Then, Brandi compares religion to a play or show. She says, being a puppet for an authoritarian minister was not fulfilling. Brandi blames this minister for a more superficial, experience. When under this preacher’s guidance, she held back her true words, and the result of that was her children are in the cheap seats (far back, more distractions, not as good, worse) and got a worse big event (religious understanding or experience, going back to reality).

I feel like the book would enlighten me to the meaning of the chorus. [Right now Cool is reading it, while I finish a book I had already started. I’ll read Brandi’s when she’s done]. But Cool did tell me Brandi said she’s not talking about “breaking” a horse to ride here. Tethered in open spaces is feeling tied down, being restrained but seeing huge possibility. If you’re spiritually restrained or holding back your true self in a big, wide world would feel smothering. The horse and the subdued person would both want to escape, run free, be more authentic to their nature.

Right into the barrel of a gun. I’m not sure where the gun comes from . Is someone aggressing? Is it suicide ideology? This could mean, when the person holds back so much that they are missing out that they don’t want to continue on that way. Because life lived in a closed way, isn’t even worth living? Or they’re so frustrated, yet trapped and they don’t know how to gain freedom? Or it could be the cowboy (or captor, person making them feel so trapped) that holds the gun to keep the horse/person within their control. If they escape, run, open up–they will be punished.

Mending up YOUR fences with MY horses runnin’ wild seems like some sort of compromise. Brandi says her inner self is running wild (the horses are untied and galloping through the field) but she’s careful too. She’s fixing the break in the fence that allowed that momentary freedom. She is reigning it back in, checking herself. Brandi helps keep herself tethered by fixing the fence that traps her and makes her so unhappy. Now, it’s not just the person with the gun keeping her (emotions) tied up and hidden, it’s Brandi (the horses) herself capitulating.

The 3rd verse reinforces this. Brandi says she treaded softly (walked on eggshells, tried to “behave”) to get this other person’s praise. This other person doesn’t like Brandi as she is, they want her to be less wild. As such Brandi doesn’t shout loudly or stomp or act out–she whispers through tears and begs sweetly. At the end, Brandi says, enough with this shit, it’s not me. I’m not going to reign it in and be tethered to please you any longer. She says she allowed this for a long time, but it’s not what she wants for her children. She tells this “you” enough.

Like I said, not having read the book, I think I’m at a bit of a disadvantage to analyze the song. But I get the impression “you” isn’t the same you as the romantic partner in the prior songs on the album. I think this may relate to the story I’ve heard Brandi tell in concert, and in many interviews about the pastor who wouldn’t baptize her. That traumatized her and she’s saying she played along and acted “good” for long enough. She wants to be more her authentic self, despite criticism from the church.

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 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- Invisible & Nothing can Stop it [Part G]

4 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?

Picture of your face in an invisible locket

Taylor is telling this girlfriend that her career, ergo her beard, is her first priority. Taylor publicly wears necklaces to show off her heterosexual [bearding] relationships, so this lover will have to settle for an invisible locket.

Taylor keeps her female lovers near her heart, but doesn’t belie that to outsiders. She only feels safe when the sapphic love is a secret.  “Out of time” in Question… 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.  She fears everything will be taken away from her if she is discovered to be queer. As Taylor continues to dance around it and beard, the lover gets tired of being invisible.  The relationship gets colder and more distant every time Taylor doesn’t make this crucial person her centerfold.  The girlfriend is demoralized because of all the lies and ruses, and is dispirited when Taylor never says her name from the podium.  Closeting corrodes this secret, sapphic love.  “Out of time” could additionally mean that Taylor faced a pressing decision to come out to her fans and live openly Sapphic with her lover OR continue to closet and beard, but lose the lover.

You said there was nothing in the world that could stop it

What is “it” that cannot be stopped?  Is the “it” something negative approaching? The “YOU said” could imply that Taylor feels the opposite about what her girlfriend is telling her.  Or it could be that Taylor is incredulous 

Many of Taylor’s songs talk about a third person encroaching on Taylor’s love and happiness. The lover could be saying that there is no other option for her than to marry that man.  Between the lure and commitment to the guy and the life he can provide, and the problems and complications constantly caused by bearding and closeting, this lover is a flight risk. The lover is promised to another.  It might be contractual.  She might want a “normal” life instead of a queer one.  It might be a choice of more wealth than Taylor can offer. Taylor had agreed to a friends with benefits situationship, but felt deeper and changed her mind. But her lover is reluctant to get more serious. And Taylor doesn’t agree that her girlfriend has no choice but to marry a man, and wants them to remain together. 

Nonetheless Taylor sneaks in the garden gate and tries to entice her girlfriend to pick her by describing her fantasy of drinking on a private beach together (Question… [Part 11]). Taylor’s perfect outcome would be to go someplace like the lakes, where people are more clever. She wants to steal away with her lover and live a committed long term relationship–in privacy. But if the lover doesn’t choose HIM, will he burn the house down? In Ivy, Taylor says the future of this love affair–her fate is tied to what the guy will do.  This man has a lot of power and money… It’s just one more barrier to their Sapphic love. 

A second option for something that can’t be stopped is Taylor’s lover telling her that having their relationship go public is inevitable.  Taylor was working up to coming out.  She wanted to do it for her lover.  She wrote speeches…  But they ended up in the fire. 

She couldn’t give an adequate reason why she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.  She covered up the relationship and doubled-down on bearding instead. Sapphic love slipped beyond her reaches as a result.  Now Taylor grieves for the living.  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, her inaction caused the lover to leave (Question… [Part 8]).

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Awakening & Touching [Part E]

29 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?

Deep blue, but you painted me golden

Taylor’s realization that she is queer, has always infused anxiety into her.  Even way back in her catalog she had an inkling she felt differently, and she immediately tried to hide it.  The behavior is part of her standard protocol at this point.  Throughout her life Taylor’s fear of her sexuality caused her to hide, panic, scheme, and the result was loss and loneliness. Forcing sexuality into dormancy is distressing.  The torture of burying a crucial part of yourself would cause moroseness.  

Taylor uses the word “color” to convey she had a gay awakening (Question… [Part 3]).  The songs that have “paint” show that Taylor’s world lit up when she really felt love (instead of comp-het).  Someone opened her eyes in Everything has Changed and she felt passionate/invigorated, and more open than she had prior to that moment (Question…  [Part 3]).  The words planet/Saturn.  proclaim how extraordinary this person makes Taylor feel.  Taylor’s love feels enormous and vast to her (Question…  [Part 15]). 

Taylor is illustrating the contrast between this sublime and ethereal state and her previous condition.

Oh, and you held me close

Taylor feels more with women.  One of the first symptoms of queerness is Taylor romantically daydreaming about dancing with girls.  She goes through a trajectory of trepidation, then wonders if it’s a choice at all because desire to touch women feels so innate.  Next, Taylor won’t let herself cross the threshold into queerness, but gets thisclose to touching (so it doesn’t count).  It is all too tempting and she can’t resist, nor can she deny the obvious any longer. Longing to touch women changed who Taylor thought she was (Question… [Part 8]).

Yet, Taylor fears losing control if she touches women.  We talked about how the depths of the water in Marjory signify the unknown.  Taylor has never liked getting in too deep, where her feet can’t touch the ground, and she doesn’t know where she stands. 

But at times, the love and desire is stronger than fear.  You are in Love says, “For once you let go of all your fears and ghosts. . . You knew what it was.”  Taylor can’t quash her feelings any longer, this desire to touch women is proof her gal-pal or best friend is actually romantic love and sexual attraction.  “Wishing you had never found out/that love could be that strong” in Red, builds on this idea.  Now that Taylor knows she’s gay, she is more alive.  It’s out of her control screeching a speeding car to a sudden stop, flying through the free fall, yet she can’t go without it.  She’s blue when this person is gone, gray when she’s all alone.  Taylor is disturbed by the revelation that she needs this red, passionate love, and wishes she didn’t.  “I’m so furious that you make me feel this way,” in Gorgeous is that same magnetic and dangerous pull described in Red.  Taylor doesn’t like losing control, but here she is captivated by this gorgeous woman (Question… [Part 8]).  

Taylor judges the sapphic touching like it’s an addiction, and becomes obsessed with it. Don’t Blame Me has Taylor, high on her lover’s touch, begging on her knees, and giving up grace to touch her.  She’s torn between trepidation of this forbidden and dangerous love and feeling depressed when she doesn’t have it (Question… [Part 8]). 

Despite craving sapphic love Taylor also redoubles the bearding–it’s her safety net.  Ready for It…  the opener of Reputation shows a new bravado about the situation.  In the lyrics Taylor goes from he (the beard) to you (the gal she’s in love with) describing her future plans.  She will keep the beard as a cover for the sapphic love forever, and at night all the touching that Taylor needs can take place in private (Question… [Part 8]).  

Taylor jealously guards her new found love with a woman in End Game, Delicate, and Gold Rush.  Now that she crossed her boundaries and touched a woman, Taylor can’t be without it.  She frets that this person will leave her, they’ll choose someone else (a man?) over her.  And the thought of that makes Taylor miserable (Question… [Part 8]).  

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!

Question… Dancing is Exemplification of Uninhibited Sexuality [Part 17]

18 Dec

Ok, thank you for your patience while I worked on this next part.  We are still doing the same thing–looking at specific words in the song in Taylor’s other songs to see how she means them.  It’ll help decide what this song is saying.

The main event in Question… is this kissing of someone in a crowded room.  And the result is laughing, clapping, ditching out, feeling regretful.  I can’t know for sure what Taylor is talking about, but I do know she said the songs from Midnights is her story.  This is not a fictional album.  

And Lavender Haze told me Taylor is not married (and doesn’t want that 1950s shit) so this kiss is not the end to a wedding ceremony.  Besides, the song says in a crowded room and a TS wedding would be BIG news, and we haven’t heard of it.  This is not about a secret wedding, it’s some public event.  

I can only think of Taylor kissing inside a room when it’s crowded with people one time:  KissGate.  I want to finish the Question… analysis by looking at a super-similar song, Dancing with our Hands Tied, suspected to be about KissGate.  Before we can do that, we need to look at the way Taylor uses the word, “dance” throughout her catalog.  So first, the songs with that word, then we’ll try to decode Dancing with our Hands Tied, but with Question… in mind.  Don’t worry, I’ve written ahead, and this does come together despite this description being chaotic.

Dance:

Never Grow Up

Taylor loves her childhood and wishes she could have remained there (Peter Pan).  In Never Grow Up she is telling a young person (her younger self?  A relative?  A friend’s child?) to appreciate their childhood while it lasts.  In the song “dance” is used to show having no inhibitions.  The child dancing before school is free from worry about what others think.  Taylor tells us we lose that as we age.

Fearless

The glow on the wet pavement is reminiscent of all the celestial words.  It creates a dreamy, larger than life image where this YOU (a girl) interests Taylor.  “I wonder if you know” is a telling phrase, because female friendship and romantic flirting can look similar, especially under the veil of heteronormativity.  Taylor imagines herself dancing with this person.  But her fears even creep into her fantasies.  This person has to drag her to dance.  And they dance in a storm.  The weather for the dance is threatening, because Taylor fears the reaction of the community would be stormy.  Yet, Taylor wants to be close and dance with a girl in public, wearing her best dress.  In her mind, Taylor will be fearless.

Long Live 

Long Live was written about the band for plausible deniability.  “Me and you” (vs. us, the band, a collective) made magic and were able to crash through the walls and enter the kingdom.  Taylor has focused in on only one other person in the song.  Taylor isn’t talking about a whole band, just the ever reappearing YOU (aka a secret female) who is in so much of her catalog. 

Taylor begins in the out-group, which has multiple meanings:  Before fame, ostracized love.  “The walls we crashed through” is a pretty gay line.  Walls can be obstacles to clear to break into the music industry, it could be records shattering.  But walls also enclose something forbidden to the out-group (normal love and acceptance of that love).  

And the magic they made (their chemistry contributes to the end-product of music that is acclaimed) allowed them to infiltrate this kingdom.  The kingdom is the music industry, upper echelons of fame, and the feeling of being normalized.  Taylor seems shocked (“I was screaming”) that “the crowds went wild” and “we” were named royalty.  There is an impression that Taylor feels they duped the kingdom to allow them entry in this sacrosanct place where they had been unwelcome.  

”The kingdom light shined just for ME and YOU.”  “Danced” is used to show the elation, relief, and liberation now that this pair has beguiled those who previously disparaged them.  YOU is feeling like a hero and they both know their lives will never be the same.  Now that they have conned their way into the in-group with their talent “it was the end of a decade but the start of an age.”  The two have broached fame and their love finagled the kingdom’s acceptance.

Tim McGraw

The moon, a symbol of femininity, is prominently featured in Tim McGraw.  YOU (we know her already from other songs) is wearing a little black dress and Taylor is in old faded blue jeans.  “Danced” is a tool that shows these girls are more than friends.  The letter that was never delivered to the other person reminds me of “the hundred thrown out speeches I almost said to you” in The Archer.  Taylor tries to come out, but loses her courage for fear of losing her audience.  The letter to this girl in Tim McGraw reveals Taylor’s romantic feelings, but Taylor loses her courage and the words remain safely under her bed. The unsent letter  also reminds me of “writing letters addressed to the fire” in evermore. A song about losing a special lover due to her bearding and closeting. Again, Taylor wrote the coming out letters, but didn’t have the courage to make them known.

Welcome to New York 

Beautiful Ghosts

“Everybody here was someone else before” is the core sentiment of Welcome to New York.  To me, it speaks to a common queer experience of leaving a condemned life in a rural/conservative area in search of acceptance and other gays.  Once out of the small towns, LGBTQQAA people are more free to be their authentic selves.  Dear Reader talks about this too:  “Get out your map, pick somewhere and just run…/Burn all the files desert all your past lives/and if you don’t recognize yourself/that means you did it right.”  WTNY talks about entering a city life and putting broken hearts in a drawer.  Now that these queers are in a larger, more liberal city they can put all the rejection and bullying behind them.  Forget it and be who you want (homo examples were given).  The new soundtrack is the unfamiliar, open life these queers are now allowed to lead.  “Dance” is again used to show freedom and belonging.

The fact she’s haunted (Taylor-speak for gay) keeps her away from normal society in Beautiful Ghosts.  She wants to be wanted, but it isn’t safe because of her innate sexuality so she wanders aimlessly and alone.  Her queer peers let her into this special world and she finally experiences being wild and free (vs. constrained and uptight).  Taylor never feels so alive as when she is with other queers and her lover.  Taylor clings to this new life, sadly remembering her past life in the straight world.  In the end she “dances” (joins) the other ghosts (queers) because that’s who she is, and they accept her for her true self.  

Out of the Woods

Why does this couple never stand a chance?  (They’re sapphic and that is denounced).  This very mundane moment of dancing in Out of the Woods (a very anxious song about fear of being discovered) is regarded as a night these two could never forget.  Why is dancing at home so special?  I interpret this awe to Taylor’s incredulousness at being able to be intimate with another woman.  She never expected she could venture out of her comfort zone and be free in that way.  This song is a prelude to I Know Places and here, Taylor didn’t expect she would be able to have private love and escape the hunters.  But the moment is tinged with sadness, because Taylor knows inevitably her career will be her priority and she will have to hide this part of herself at the expense of this relationship that makes her feel so good.

Holy Ground

“We blocked the noise” could be the literal sounds of the city.  Secondly, the couple’s desire towards each other blocks out any criticism from society.  Taylor notes that she has something to lose for the first time.  Despite all her previous crushes and dating, this is the first time a relationship feels substantial to her.  It’s different from the rest (because it’s with a woman).  Even after the break-up, when collected dust shows the passage of time, Taylor sees the face everywhere because this person stays on her mind. 

Don’t look down is a common saying meaning to stay focused on the action you’re taking, and don’t catastrophize about everything that could go wrong.  Taylor and this person were so into each other that it was one of the rare times that Taylor wasn’t anxiously ruminating about how everything could fall apart in her life.  At the end, Taylor makes clear this (dating women) would not be a new pattern of behavior.  She only wants to “dance” (feel this carefree and calm about being sapphic) if it’s with this special person.

Cowboy Like Me

When this person asked Taylor to dance she knew it meant more than just holding each other in public for a three minute song.  “Takes one to know one” is Taylor saying she recognized that this person is also queer, like her.  They both have the same motivation–to hide their sexuality from the public, via pretending to love each other.  It’s protection.  Taylor knew this commitment to dance was her new life–she would never really love someone she actually has feelings for (women) again. 

In the prior songs, Taylor construed the word “dancing” as releasing inhibitions, feeling free to love, relief and elation at the ability to let go and be herself (sapphic).  Here, she says, “dancing is a dangerous game.”  The dancing is not authentic as before, it’s a show, a game.  These two do not really love each other-they are together to appease the heteronormative public and remove scrutiny of their public personas.  “Tricks up my sleeve” proves Taylor and this person are dancing in order to deceive.  Neither of them prioritized love, they both want the car/$$/fame.  There has been an agreement to look outwardly romantic with each other to trick the people with money into financing them.

Betty

“You heard the rumors from Inez [it’s not an accident that this rhymes with Perez.  As in Hilton, a mean gossip].  “You can’t believe a word she says/most times, but this time it was true.”  James/Taylor and Betty/Karlie/Dianna/(insert any woman) are more than friends–they’re actually lovers. Taylor comes out right there.  But with a lot of plausible deniability built in. 

A major event in Betty is a lavender wedding in Taylor’s real life which was translated into a high school dance for the fictional stand-ins representing the real people. 

Two cowboys have to sell their relationship to the world in order for investors to be cool with them (homophobia is real).  But Betty has to impersonate someone in love to make the public believe it.  James can’t watch this travesty-it hurts too much to see Betty act in love with the guy.  James does not attend this event.  Besides whenever James/Taylor goes anywhere crowds form and watch her every move.  She cannot pretend to be cool with Betty’s lavender marriage.  But Betty has to sell this straight relationship.  In doing so, Betty is so convincing that her girlfriend James buys that the act is real.  James sees Betty dancing with HIM and loses it (enter the entirety of Afterglow).  Betty is publicly with this dude, but James/Taylor finds this threatening because dancing is their thing.  “Dance” is used here to show allegiance and belonging.  Except James jumped to conclusions and put Betty in jail for something she didn’t do.  Now James/Taylor is remorseful about flying off the handle like that and just wants to kiss Betty/her female lover in front of her stupid friends (the media, fans, & public).

Back to Dancing with our Hands Tied which has many commonalities with this kissing in a crowded room central to Question…

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.

Taylor also uses the word to clarify between friendships and romantic relationships. Dancing is Tim McGraw shows this distinction. Fearless also uses the word, “dance” to demonstrate Taylor’s profound feelings for this girl are not platonic. She is consistently using the word, “dance” to show freedom of sexuality. In Out of the Woods, Taylor is astonished to be intimate with this woman, as she never expected she could venture out of her foxhole to be unguarded. Holy Ground is the same sentiment. “Dance” is being unbothered and happy-go-lucky in her queerness–a state Taylor enters only with this specific person.

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.  

Lastly, Taylor uses dance to show intimacy between two people. One conflict of Betty was that the dancing as spectacle was misconstrued as legitimate. A chain of negative reactions from James followed the act of dancing and the relationship between James/Taylor and Betty/female lover suffered. In that song, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves. Paradoxically, Taylor uses the same tactic of 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.

The preponderance of “dancing” in the catalog is relaxation and ease with her innate sexuality.

It’ll probably be a few days, but next we’ll look at the entire song, Dancing with our Hands Tied.

Question… Kaylor-Politics Fear, Fire, & Smoke. Many Songs are Tied Together [Part 16]

14 Dec

Taylor wins the pronoun game.  I’m not even going to try to untangle the speaker/recipient/changing characters in this song. Ok maybe just a little in this section. 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. 

In Question… the next verse has a change in Taylor’s tone of voice.  It sounds almost sarcastic when she sings:

And what’s that, that I heard, that you’re still with her?

You’re still with her.  Who is Taylor talking to?  And who is HER?  This is a main reason why I wasn’t going to play the pronoun game with this particular song.  I think Taylor wrote it in a way that couldn’t be decoded.  She didn’t call and tell me.

Is the “you’re” Taylor is talking to, Karlie?  If so, it implies Karlie is with (dating?) HER.  And I don’t know who that could be.  It doesn’t seem plausible that Karlie would “marry” Jo$h, have a baby with him, leaving Taylor in the process. All to just get a different secret girlfriend?  I mean, IF Karlie wanted a WLW affair, Taylor has made it more than clear that her door is still open to Kaylor.

Is the “you’re” Taylor speaking to Jo$h?  I don’t think it can be, because immediately preceding this line the lyric is, “Does it feel like everything is just like second best after that meteor strike?”  In the last entry we showed through other celestial lyrics that the meteor strike is this otherworldly, untouchable love.  And Jo$h was not involved other than as an antagonist, threatening to burn the house down. What would be second best to him?  Taylor is referring to Klo$$ner(?!) AS the thing that’s second best to Kaylor.

The YOU’RE must be Karlie because the meteor is definitely Kaylor.  But I really don’t think Karlie is with another woman (HER).  So even though it seems random and out of context, I do think Taylor is using Hillary Clinton’s unofficial slogan to make fun or mock Karlie’s feeble “I tried” tweet, hence the sarcastic singing voice in this verse.

That’s nice, I’m sure that’s what’s suitable

And Taylor does mention “fuckin’ politics and gender roles” in the verse right before this one, so it could make sense for the song to allude to Karlie’s political hypocrisy.  [Sidenote: “counterfeit” and “faithless” are both synonyms of “hypocritical” and Taylor uses those in other songs, which could be talking about this very matter.]

And right, but tonight

There aren’t common lyrics in the song I’m about to reference, but I do think there is a connection. The political talk and the word “tonight” reminds me of Daylight. 

Daylight

Is it Karlie that “ran with the wolves” (the Ku$hners, her neighbor and sister in-law Ivanka, by extension the Trumps) adjacent and complicit to republican evil?  It’s also interesting that Question… could be addressing the subject matter of Daylight because it goes with our overall thesis that Taylor’s central problem is closeting.  

Daylight came out [ha!  Accidental pun] in 2019, the year Taylor turned 30 years old.  Twenty years prior to that it was 1999 and Taylor was around 9.  In Seven Taylor says, “picture me….before I learned civility, I used to scream ferociously any time I wanted.”  At 7 years old Taylor acted viscerally, shouting her truth and paying no attention to anybody else’s expectations, or to social rules.  But as she aged she learned manners/tact/compliance…  She was molded to be socially acceptable, and in this patriarchal, heteronormative world, that means being a (straight) young lady (with feminine qualities).  It corresponds to the next year of age entering into a dark night, sleeping on her queerness for the sake of etiquette.  The stuffing down her innate sexuality, denying her attraction to women, and closeting when she couldn’t repress herself.

In 2016 Taylor “became the butt of the joke” when her reputation was ruined.  She met Karlie and fell deeply in love, which helped Taylor see past the drama-induced pain.  The enthrallment also reminded Taylor of her innate queerness.  During the lover era, Taylor may have planned to come out.  Precisely because Kaylor prompted Taylor to wake up from the dark sleep of hiding her sexuality (maybe even from herself).  Taylor was so happy about being in love and seeing daylight that she wanted to share her feelings with the world.  But the master’s situation foiled that plan at the last minute.

Afterglow might be alluded to in the next line of Daylight, “I wounded the good [Karlie?] and trusted the wicked.”  Afterglow explains that Taylor thought she had reason to attack.  She pinned Karlie’s hands behind her back, and made her feel helpless, hopeless, ambuscaded.  But it turns out Taylor blew things out of proportion, and it was Taylor who burned them down. 

I don’t know what happened.  Did Taylor think Karlie’s first wedding was legitimate and an ambush to desert her?  Or is this lyric indicating Taylor felt Karlie betrayed secrets to Jo$h and or $cooter which enabled them to buy her masters at exactly the wrong time for an official coming out?  I don’t know, because I’m not sure any song is specific enough to untangle it.  What we do know is that whatever Karlie may have done, Taylor says she overreacted.  

Daylight continues, “clearing the air I breathed in the smoke”

Let’s talk about the connotation of smoke. Again, I’ll right-align the songs that contain the word since “smoke” is not in Question…

Cardigan and The Archer talk about the smoke left behind from the fiery Kaylor break-up:

Cardigan

The song speaks to things pertinent to our discussion:

1. Taylor knew she was Sapphic back at Seven even though adults assume you are just in a phase or confused as a young queer.  Especially fathers, according to Mary’s Song, where the daddies were notably absent from the fantasy wedding, which might explain the “leavin’ like a father” in Cardigan.  She compares herself to Peter Pan, who never grows up.  Taylor wants to be like that 7 year old freely getting close to the girl with the braids.

2. Karlie impacting Taylor forever (like a tattoo) is mentioned again.  Kaylor will haunt Taylor, and she will curse Karlie.  I will put the part about how Taylor regards her gayness like a curse, and says she’s haunted to mean she’s sapphic as a reminder of what we previously decided:

3. The 3rd pertinent thing in Cardigan that ties back to Question…, Daylight, Afterglow, is the smoke remaining after the fire.  In Ivy it was Taylor who pushed Karlie away and told her to run. 

These lines are from Karlie’s point of view:  

Ivy

This perspective shows Karlie suggests 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 doesn’t wanna share, she says in Delicate.  And so Cardigan talks about how Karlie finally “ran like water” “steppin’ on the last train” because of Taylor’s stipulations (me or him).

Smoke is mentioned in The Archer, where Taylor is talking about her struggle with the closet.  She wants to keep her fans and fame, but it hurts her relationship with the girl. The song The Archer also mirrors the 3 items we talked about in Cardigan:

The Archer

1. Taylor never grew up and is still playing Peter Pan.  She wants to be regarded as the ‘good girl’.  Taylor can’t let herself go rogue, and come out of the closet for fear of losing everything.

2. Taylor views her queerness as a curse and haunting.  She paces like a ghost, unable to sleep because of the anxiety. But Karlie got under her skin and will impact her forever.  Taylor knows it’s unfair to ask Karlie to closet with her (“who could stay?”) but desperately wants to hold onto her (“help me hold onto you”). YOU is Karlie and the fans.

3. It’s Taylor who pushes Karlie to run, and take the last train.  It’s Taylor who jumps off the train and rides off alone.  She can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of the impending fire, and the invisible smoke hangs over her.

The heat is gay rumors and Karlie’s decision to remain with Jo$h. 

The fire is getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed.  The fire is the terror of Ku$hner-power hurting her to quell Kaylor.  The fire is Karlie’s “family” situation conflicting with Taylor’s own ideas of a fairytale life. 

The smoke is unrealized events that Taylor dreads.  The smoke is every time Taylor is gay on main and too many people notice.  The smoke is damage control by Taylor’s PR team and Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  

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

Daylight

Which brings us back to Daylight.  The smoke Taylor breathes in when trying to clear the air is Taylor holding onto imagined negative outcomes.  Running damage control and overcorrecting any gay situation.

The pain of picking closeting over the love of her life time and time again makes Taylor feel asphyxiated.  

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 Politics of Contrasts [Part 12]

10 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. 

f—ing politics and gender-roles

Politics:

Now this could simply mean the Ku$hners, TFG, Republicans, conservative viewpoints.

But let’s let the lyrics of other songs help us decipher the meaning. Just to be consistent.

Cardigan

Did Taylor use the word “sequin” to mean shiny?  Sequin is known to sparkle, and add ornamentation and flair.  

The sequin says, “pay attention to me” and symbolizes a light-hearted good-time gal vibe.

But I also like some fan interpretations that Taylor is ‘aging’ her subject with the phrase “sequin smile.”  This is a teen wearing metal braces (are those still a thing now that Invisalign is on the scene?).  She is describing a teen coming into their own in one of Cardigan’s many layers.

She immediately contrasts the sequin with the more serious and dark black lipstick.  

Taylor is layering meaning into these short phrases.  Taylor might be pointing out that people are complex, and can be light and fun, wearing sparkly, party sequin and have a darker more mysterious side, topping off their look with black lipstick.  She could be talking about two completely different people, one light and sparkly and one serious and deep.  Taylor could be contrasting her different eras, 1989 was light and poppy and Reputation was brooding and secretive.  I think they all work, and considering this is a folklore song, where honesty and fiction were woven together in intricate puzzles, I think she intended all meanings.

Sensual politics is a phrase that gets the same layered treatment as the previous line.  We have playful sexy ‘cat and mouse’ flirting and relationship drama that both teens and adults engage in.  Then, there is the airy feeling of attraction mixed with the heavier skirting the line of remaining politically correct or ethical [Talk about contrasts!  Using ethical and political in the same sentence.  But you know what I mean].  Love can be played like a complicated political battle.  And like the last phrase, this one too, is used as a callback to Taylor’s own eras.  Lover had a seductive, sultry side and a political message.  False God is a perfect example of this dichotomy, there is religious imagery to describe a (lesbian) sexual encounter.  But also, Cruel Summer with the moaning noises and “shape of your body” sit along side You Need to Calm Down with it’s name-drop of the GLAAD organization that advocates for the LGBTQQAA community.

It’s amazing how eloquently Taylor can pack so many meanings into just a few words!  She says “when you are young, they assume you know nothing”  to simultaneously address every different layered meaning she just set out in the contrasting phrases.  Teens are both fun and moody.  Adults think teens are too fickle, playful, and risky, when it comes to dating.  But they pull the exact same precarious mating rituals themselves.  One person can convey exuberance while feeling dreary inside.  Taylor can be a popular good-time gal with model friends in 1989 then go dark and reclaim the snake side of herself in Reputation.  Taylor is starry-eyed, romantic, and dramatic, but she’s also grounded, astute, and agreeable.  And she always knew (she was gay).

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

We already discussed how Taylor drinks to alleviate her anxiety.  And being seen as queer triggers that anxiety.  “Fucking politics and gender roles,” following the procedure of letting other lyrics paint the picture of the this song’s overall meaning, might be pointing out a contrast just like in Cardigan.  Taylor is talking about feeling torn between her sexuality and desires and being politically correct, seen as a the ideal woman.  It’s another dichotomy for her.  She’s gay, anxious, and drunk, yet she is hyper-feminine, confident, and palatable to the masses.  It’s a struggle for Taylor to be authentic to who she is, but also appeal to a wide swath of people to further her career.  More than the specific event Question… brings up, it’s this contradiction that is the true subject of the song, as we’re seeing over and over in every lyrical example.