Introducing: Taylor Swift Album Add Series
As of right now, it’s Taylor Swift’s world and we’re all living in it. My personal favorite thing about being a Swiftie is how thematically rich Taylor’s discography is, from her early works to her most recent releases.
Taylor, famously, has 10 albums, or “eras,” with their own distinct sound, aesthetic, and themes. It’s a lot of fun to think about the differences between each album era, and I’ve been thinking about how these eras could cross over into each other.
What are the themes for a specific Taylor Swift album, and what songs from other albums fall within those themes as well? This is the start of a blog series three years in the making in which I will analyze a Taylor Swift album and attempt to pull one song from each of her other albums that could fit within it. (I’m focusing on lyrics + theme here, obviously the music style changes drastically over the years.)
I’m going to start with, of course, Taylor’s self-titled debut album, Taylor Swift. This album was written while Taylor was in her early teen years, so we see a lot of adolescent emotions, such as pining for someone out of reach (Teardrops On My Guitar, Tim McGraw), uncertainty about one’s identity and future ("A Place in This World," "The Outside"), keeping feelings unspoken until they reach a burst of youthful anger ("Picture to Burn," "Should’ve Said No"), and the innocence and idealism of first love ("Our Song," "Mary’s Song").
Fearless - The Best Day
“Don’t know how long it’s gonna take to feel okay
But I had the best day with you today”
This debut album feels like a portrait of a young person before they go out into the world, so I chose “The Best Day,” a song about the comforts of home and family.
Speak Now - Enchanted
“I’ll spend forever wondering if you knew
I was enchanted to meet you”
The love songs on Taylor Swift have more of a passive feeling to them, like they’re thoughts and emotions hoarded away before there’s any courage to make a confession. The feelings expressed in “Enchanted” feel like a secret, like the subject of the song doesn’t know and can never know about those feelings.
Red - Everything Has Changed
“All I know is we said ‘hello,’ and your eyes looked like coming home
All I know is a simple name and everything has changed”
“Everything Has Changed” is about a new connection, and is more about imagined potential rather than a real relationship, which fits in with the idealism and innocence of love found in Taylor Swift.
1989 - All You Had To Do Was Stay
“All you had to do was stay, had me in the palm of your hand
Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?”
A few songs on Taylor Swift focus on someone far away, with the speaker staying in one place and the subject being the one who chooses to stay or go, which is exactly what “All You Had to Do Was Stay” is about.
reputation - Gorgeous
“You’re so gorgeous,
I can’t say anything to your face.”
The verses of “Gorgeous” are a bit bolder than what is found on Taylor Swift, but the chorus definitely has those elements of pining over someone just out of reach.
Lover - It’s Nice to Have a Friend
“Something gave you the nerve to touch my hand
It’s nice to have a friend”
I love this song from Lover. It’s the short and sweet story of two childhood friends falling in love, which is exactly the kind of thing that can be found on Taylor Swift.
folklore - mirrorball
“I want you to know, I’m a mirrorball
I can change everything about me to fit in”
A big part of early adolescence is having not quite developed your own identity, so you take cues from other people. While “mirrorball” in the folklore era is a metaphor for the performance of celebrity, in the debut era, I consider it a metaphor for a young person trying to be a person everybody else likes while still figuring out how to be a person they themselves like.
evermore - dorothea
“But it’s never too late to come back to my side…
And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know, you know you’ll always know me”
The Taylor Swift album has a lot of name drops for the people they are about, and “dorothea” from evermore has the staying still and the pining, and names that person it’s all about.
Midnights - You’re On Your Own, Kid
“I wait patiently, he’s gonna notice me
It’s okay, we’re the best of friends anyway”
You would think that Midnights would be the farthest away from Taylor Swift, being they are the most recent and oldest albums respectively. However, “You’re On Your Own, Kid” so eloquently speaks of the themes in Taylor Swift, such as feeling alone and wanting a secret crush to notice you, it feels like Adult Taylor speaking about Teenage Taylor.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon with more in this series.
What do you think of this concept? What Taylor songs from over the years remind you of her debut era?