Taylor Swift would be the first to tell you that she has a big reputation when it comes to her songwriting — in fact, she has told you, through song, several times.
Over the last 16 years, she’s faced fierce scrutiny for taking her life experiences and turning them into Grammy Award–winning songs, namely because many involve her love interests. But, contrary to popular belief, Taylor doesn’t just sing about her ex- and current lovers — she actually memorializes her entire life through music.
This includes her childhood memories, high school friendships, and family values — as well as the platonic feuds and fallouts that she has endured along the way.
By writing about her real life, which just so happens to involve a plethora of famous faces, Taylor’s entire body of work serves as a treasure trove of insight into the world of celebrity and popular culture.
While it is easy for the casual listener to hear “Style,” “All Too Well,” and “Look What You Made Me Do” and come to some generic conclusions about Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Kimye, what many don’t realize is that multiple songs, when pieced together, actually form a much deeper story.
So in honor of the release of Taylor’s 10th studio album, Midnights, I have taken it upon myself to tell that story.
But, before we get into it, I can’t disclaim enough that lyrical interpretation is subjective and that Taylor very rarely reveals who her songs are about. She does, however, actively encourage fans to connect clues and Easter eggs about the subjects of her songs. This article is the result of thorough research, fan theories, and widespread conclusions, but nothing is 100% confirmed.
So, let’s delve into everything that Taylor Swift’s music has secretly taught us about other celebrities.
Taylor’s first high-profile relationship was with Joe Jonas in 2008. They were 18 when they started dating in July, and it famously ended with a 25-second phone call in October.
According to Taylor’s songs “Mr. Perfectly Fine” and “Forever & Always,” Joe told her he’d been waiting for her all of his life, vowed to never leave, and even dropped the L-word.
In “Last Kiss,” Taylor recalls falling for Joe because of his confidence, charm, and respect for her parents, which is referenced by the way that he shook her dad’s hand upon their first meeting.
Taylor called Joe “the life of the party” and credited him for pulling her out of her shell by encouraging her to dance with him. Taylor flew out to Texas to watch the Jonas Brothers in concert on July 9, and this date is also name-checked in the song. But things went downhill quickly when Joe began to ghost her.
The singer ultimately found herself staring at her phone as she waited for his call, but that’s probably something she regrets, because when he finally did make contact he brutally dumped her.
Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2008, Taylor said of their failed relationship: “When I find that person that is right for me, he’ll be wonderful. And when I look at that person, I’m not even gonna be able to remember the boy who broke up with me over the phone in 25 seconds when I was 18.”
The worst part for Taylor was the “casually cruel” way Joe had acted as though he hadn’t done anything wrong after dumping her, and she accused him of issuing an “insincere apology” just so that he could look like the good guy.
And while Joe appeared to be “perfectly fine” after their split, Taylor struggled immensely and would wear his clothes around the house because she was so devastated.
But Taylor and Joe eventually managed to salvage a friendship and are now on good terms. In fact, in her 2020 song “Invisible String,” Taylor recalls sending a gift to Joe and his now-wife Sophie Turner when their first daughter was born.
While Joe didn’t turn out to be the love of Taylor’s life, the pain that he caused her actually led to an eerie premonition in her 2010 song “Last Kiss,” where she sings: “Your name forever the name on my lips.”
As fate would have it, she wasn’t wrong, and she has been seriously loved up with another Joe — Joe Alwyn — since 2016. But we’ll get to that later.
After splitting from Joe, Taylor entered one of the most formative years of her life.
It was, after all, September 2009 when Kanye West stormed the VMAs stage as she attempted to accept the Best Female Video award, snatched the mic from her hand, and said Beyoncé should have won instead.
In her 2010 song “Back To December,” Taylor revealed that she had burst into tears backstage after the incident and was comforted by her then-boyfriend, Taylor Lautner, who had presented her with the award alongside Shakira.
In the track, which appeared on her album Speak Now, Taylor shares intimate details about how he supported her through the ordeal, recounting: “How you held me in your arms that September night / The first time you ever saw me cry.”
The two Taylors had met on the set of Valentine’s Day that summer, but a reference to her realizing the strength of her feelings “in the fall” suggests that the VMAs incident was the catalyst for them really falling in love.
Unfortunately, they split in December, and Taylor had massive remorse over failing to realize how special the actor was until it was too late. In fact, in a rare feat for the exes referenced in Taylor’s music, Lautner comes away without a single bad word said about him.
As for Kanye, Taylor was initially willing to forgive him for the VMAs incident and approached the situation from a level of understanding. In her 2010 song “Innocent,” Taylor tries to speak to the rapper’s inner child and accepts that life can be tough, even at 32 — Kanye’s age at the time of the ceremony.
But this was far from the end of Taylor and Kanye’s run-ins, and she’d later hugely regret the forgiveness and grace she showed him here.
Almost immediately after breaking up with Lautner in December 2009, Taylor ignored the warnings from the people around her and started dating John Mayer.
John is 13 years older than Taylor, who was just 19 at the time, which is probably why her mom thought that she was “losing her mind” when she struck up a relationship with him.
Others told Taylor to “run as fast as you can” away from the singer, but she didn’t understand their problematic relationship dynamic until after the fact, and reflected on this in her 2010 song “Dear John.”
With hindsight, Taylor believes that John took advantage of her and treated her in a way that she was too young to understand. She found herself walking on eggshells, afraid of upsetting him because his moods were unpredictable. He would regularly flip between being warm and loving and cold and distant.
Taylor went so far as to accuse John of having a “sick need to give love then take it away,” and ultimately regretted their entire relationship, which ended in February 2010.
Four months after their split, Taylor had an awkward encounter with John when they were seated near each other at the CMT Music Awards, which inspired her song “The Story Of Us.”
She told USA Today: “‘The Story of Us’ is about running into someone I had been in a relationship with at an awards show, and we were seated a few seats away from each other. I just wanted to say to him, ‘Is this killing you? Because it’s killing me.’ But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. Because we both had these silent shields up. I went home and I sat there at the kitchen table and I said to my mom, ‘I felt like I was standing alone in a crowded room.’”
And despite the age gap presenting a problem in her relationship with John, Taylor went on to date another older man at the end of 2010.
Jake Gyllenhaal has arguably faced the most scrutiny of any subject of Taylor’s work, with the backlash intensifying last year following the release of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” and its accompanying short film.
Taylor was 20 and Jake was 29 when they began their on-again, off-again relationship, which has been referenced in several songs — including “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
The song describes Jake constantly “picking fights” as well as being obsessed with how he's perceived by others. And this preoccupation with appearing cool and trendy led to him regularly putting Taylor down, diminishing her interests, laughing at her aspirations, and rolling his eyes at her jokes.
Discussing the ex who inspired “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor told USA Today: “He made me feel like I wasn’t as good or as relevant as these hipster bands he listened to. So I made a song that I knew would absolutely drive him crazy.”
In “I Bet You Think About Me,” Taylor also exposes Jake’s fear of aging and no longer being “hip” before admitting that she was unable to fit in with his circle of friends. This also appeared in the All Too Well short film, where the woman protagonist tries and ultimately fails to fit in with her partner’s friends at a dinner party.
In the song, Taylor says that Jake’s “Brooklyn broke [her] skin and bone,” suggesting that trying to keep up with his coolness ultimately wore her down.
The pressure of the relationship was so intense that Taylor ended up breaking down in tears in the bathroom of a showbiz party in 2010, with it being widely assumed she was consoled by Anne Hathaway.
In “All Too Well,” Taylor refers to the woman who comforted her as “some actress,” and the timeline appears to perfectly coincide with Anne’s recollection of meeting Taylor. The actor, who has worked with Jake in the past, said of Taylor in a 2015 interview: “She just seems to be following her heart. I met her — I hope it’s OK to say this — when she and Jake were together. She was 20 at the time, and we hung out one night. I was like, ‘You are a magnificent creature.’”
In addition to Jake’s obsession with seeming trendy, he was also insecure about his height while dating Taylor. The actor is 5'11", and Taylor is 5'10", and in her song “Begin Again” she references the fact that he didn’t like her wearing high heels.
Taylor described Jake’s family life in her songs, too, recalling his mom embarrassing him by showing her old photos and telling childhood stories about him on the T-ball team.
Earlier this year, Taylor also seemingly confirmed a longstanding theory that Jake was the first person she had sex with — and that the moment happened at his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal's house.
In the opening verse of “All Too Well,” Taylor sings: “I left my scarf there at your sister’s house / And you’ve still got it in your drawer even now.” She later revisits the theme with the line: “But you keep my old scarf / From that very first week / Because it reminds you of innocence / And smells like me / You can’t get rid of it.”
Many believed that the scarf was actually a metaphor for her virginity, and in September, Taylor became visibly flustered when she was asked about its meaning at the Toronto International Film Festival. She confirmed that it was indeed a metaphor, and then awkwardly added: “Um...And I think when I say it’s a metaphor, I’m just going to stop...and I’m going to say thanks for the incredible question to whoever asked it, you’ve really taken us for a ride with that one, thank you.”
Jake also spent time with Taylor’s family and managed to win over her dad by telling “self-effacing jokes” over coffee. But Mr. Swift ultimately turned on Jake when he stood Taylor up on her 21st birthday, almost two months into their relationship.
This milestone event is the stuff of legend within the Taylor fandom, with the All Too Well short film reflecting Taylor being dramatically let down by Jake’s no-show at the party while surrounded by her innermost circle.
In 2014, a source told RadarOnline: “The day before — all was set — he was coming, no issues. But the day of, she doesn’t hear from him at all. No texts, no calls. Taylor thought maybe he was planning some sort of surprise. Nope. He didn’t show up and she locked herself in the bathroom and cried the entire night.”
And this is all but confirmed in Taylor’s 2012 song “The Moment I Knew,” in which she recalls being glammed up in her party dress as friends asked her about Jake before becoming bitterly disappointed and heartbroken at the realization he wasn’t going to show.
Ultimately, Jake broke up with Taylor because of their age gap, even telling her the relationship may have worked if they'd been closer in age. However, he ended up regretting the decision, repeatedly calling and begging for another chance.
In fact, Jake didn’t tell Taylor that he loved her until three months after they had broken up, and in “I Bet You Think About Me,” Taylor appears to find great joy in the fact that Jake realized that she is “harder to forget” than she “was to leave.”
Despite that small sliver of solace, Taylor also admitted she battled with wanting to take Jake back while being unable to forgive or forget the pain he’d caused on her 21st birthday. To protect herself from reopening old wounds, Taylor ignored Jake’s texts and phone calls but expressed concern in “I Almost Do” that he would think she hated him or had moved on.
But it’s not all bad — Jake ruining Taylor’s 21st birthday inspired her to make a really big deal out of her 22nd, which is reflected in her song “22.”
The upbeat pop song follows “All Too Well” on the Red tracklist, and for years, fans had been confused by the emotional whiplash of that sequence. But when last year’s extended version of “All Too Well” provided additional details about Taylor’s 21st, her desire to reclaim her birthday via “22” immediately after the heartbreak anthem suddenly made perfect sense.
After Jake, Taylor went on to date Harry Styles from late 2012 to early 2013. They were widely reported to have had a brief fling in the spring of 2012, which came crashing down after Harry kissed somebody else in New Zealand. But they reconciled later that year.
In her 2014 song “How You Get The Girl,” Taylor admits to secretly hoping that Harry would show up at her door and apologize for the way that he had behaved while begging for another chance.
And it appears she got her wish, with Taylor revealing he did reach out again in the song “Style.” In the same track, she admits to being reluctant to give Harry a second chance because of his reputation, but getting sucked back in by his charm.
(As a sidenote, Taylor previously acknowledged how obvious the subject of “Style” is thanks to its title, telling Rolling Stone: “We should have just called it ‘I’m Not Even Sorry.’”)
Harry and Taylor’s fame made their relationship difficult from the beginning. In “I Know Places,” Taylor recalls “vultures circling,” with people desperate to get a piece of them.
In fact, Taylor became so exhausted by the constant attention that “Out of the Woods” recounts a moment when she tried to end their relationship, believing she was “setting” Harry “free,” only for him to convince her to stay.
And in perhaps the finest example of the intel we get from Taylor’s music, the same song reveals that she and Harry were in a snowmobile accident together that, somehow, never got out to the press.
Fans were confused when Harry was pictured with a bandage over his chin in December 2012 following his and Taylor’s trip to a ski resort, but further details didn’t come to light until Taylor revealed them herself on 1989.
It turns out that the accident happened after Harry “hit the brakes too soon,” resulting in a hospital dash where they both cried as he got stitches.
Taylor later revealed that there were around four other people at the hospital who all promised not to tell anybody about what had happened, and — surprisingly — they were true to their word.
She also said she included the anecdote in the song to remind the press and public that they aren’t privy to everything she does. “People think they know the whole narrative of my life,” she shared. “I think maybe that line is there to remind people that there are really big things they don’t know about.”
Harry and Taylor broke up shortly after the snowmobile incident, but him later buying a house a couple of blocks away from her made her reflect on what could have been if he’d been able to commit.
It was around this time that Taylor’s feud with Katy Perry exploded. This was referenced in “Bad Blood,” where Taylor describes how their “mad love” for one another completely shattered.
While the pair were publicly friendly from 2009, attending birthday parties and joining each other onstage, 2013 saw them clashing over some backup dancers, and chaos ensued.
The story goes that three of the dancers on Taylor’s Red tour left before it ended so that they could join Katy on her Prismatic tour instead. Taylor told Rolling Stone that she felt like Katy had “tried to sabotage” her.
And this was reiterated in “Bad Blood,” where Taylor says that Katy purposefully “hit” her where she was “weak” and claims that she’d never recover from the long-lasting wound of the betrayal. Taylor also references her upset over this betrayal coming from someone she’d shared such good memories with.
While Taylor appeared to insist that she and Katy would never be able to resolve their issue, time proved to be a healer, and Katy had a cameo in Taylor’s 2019 music video for “You Need To Calm Down,” which the two women hoped would be “a symbol of redemption and forgiveness.”
But the same truce has not yet been called between Taylor and her former best friend Karlie Kloss, who Taylor seemingly confirmed that she’d fallen out with in a 2016 essay for Elle.
While the exact details of the fallout are unclear, it appears that Taylor caught Karlie speaking negatively behind her back.
In her 2020 song “It’s Time To Go,” Taylor sings: “When the words of a sister come back in whispers / That prove she was not in fact what she seemed / Not a twin from your dreams / She’s a crook who was caught.”
After their fallout, Karlie would subtly align herself with Taylor’s enemies — including Kanye, Kim, and Katy — through pointed Instagram captions and comments in interviews. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton later claimed that Karlie had leaked personal information about Taylor to Scooter Braun, whom Taylor has since branded her “nemesis.”
Many Swifties are also convinced that the 2020 song “Closure” is about Karlie. If this is the case, then it appears that Karlie wrote Taylor a letter to apologize while the singer was spending time in London with boyfriend Joe Alwyn.
Karlie seemingly acknowledged that she was in the wrong and expressed guilt over how she’d treated Taylor. However, Taylor has no interest in forgiveness and said that even seeing the model's name on the correspondence caused her pain.
Taylor accused Karlie of issuing a “fake” apology in order to absolve herself of the guilt from the past so that she can move on.
Meanwhile, Taylor and Karlie’s fallout appeared to coincide with Taylor’s breakup with DJ Calvin Harris, whom she dated for 15 months in 2015 and 2016. But despite the pretty lengthy romance, there’s very few songs about Calvin in Taylor’s discography apart from the aptly named “I Forgot That You Existed,” which appears to reference their split.
The breakup came shortly before the climax of Taylor’s infamous feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West over the rapper’s song “Famous,” which includes the controversial lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.”
At the time, Kanye insisted that Taylor had approved the line, but her publicist maintained that she’d not been made aware that he’d refer to her as “that bitch.”
In July 2016, Kim uploaded a Snapchat video documenting a phone call between Kanye and Taylor, in which they discussed the song and she appeared to give her approval — however, it didn’t show Kanye consulting Taylor on the use of the word “bitch.”
As a direct result of the leak, Taylor took an extended break from the public eye after her social media pages were flooded with snake emojis while the hashtag #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty began trending worldwide. She did not return to the limelight until the release of her 2017 album Reputation.
Here, Taylor reflected on what had happened between her and Kimye, and even admitted that until that point she’d been on friendly terms with the rapper since the 2009 VMAs incident.
Taylor believed that she was giving him a second chance and was left hurt when he stabbed her in the back. She was also convinced that Kanye deliberately recorded their conversation intending to set her up — something she referenced in the album's title track, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
In “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” Taylor points out that “friends don’t try to trick you” and accuses Kanye of getting her on the phone to “mind-twist” her. Later in the song, she reveals that one of the only people she could confide in at that time was her mom, who “had to listen” to all the “drama.”
She also believes that Kimye purposefully manipulated information to their benefit to bring her down while she was at her peak. In “Call It What You Want,” Taylor brands them “liars” and says she was completely caught off guard by the “overnight” demise of her reputation.
Taylor continued to call out Kimye in her subsequent albums, and in “Mad Woman,” she appears to suggest that the former couple’s mutual vendetta against her is what kept them together for so long.
In the song, she also suggests that Kim did Kanye’s “dirtiest work” by leaking the audio, before pointedly adding: “It’s obvious that wanting me dead has really brought you two together.”
But while Reputation highlighted her anger and desire for revenge on Kimye, Taylor later realized the pair would ruin themselves on their own.
Since #Snakegate, Kim has filed for divorce from Kanye, and his reputation has plummeted. In 2020’s “Long Story Short,” Taylor reflects on this and wishes she could tell her past self not to waste so much time on “petty” feuds, singing: “Your nemeses will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing.”
Despite this, Kim and Kanye did drastically change the course of Taylor’s history and triggered some other important events that arguably led her directly to the happy and peaceful life she so values now.
As mentioned, Taylor broke up with Calvin shortly before the Kimye drama. And, as it all unfolded, Calvin made a series of shady comments about her, including the snipe that he is glad to be “free” from her, and wore sneakers designed by Kanye.
Taylor says she felt she was living “in the shade” Calvin was “throwing” at her lowest point and accused him of getting the “popcorn” the minute her reputation “crumbled.”
She added that she’d have behaved differently in Calvin’s shoes, remaining his biggest cheerleader even if he failed to sell any tickets to his concerts.
This is particularly interesting because she later wrote lyrics that could be seen as alluding to rarely spending time with Calvin and having little interest in his work. In “Gorgeous,” Taylor says that Calvin is “in the club doing I don’t know what.” And the original lyric was just as telling: “I haven’t seen him in a couple of months.”
Taylor’s music also reveals that she actually wanted to split from Calvin long before pulling the plug but felt she “needed a reason” to leave him. So, she sought the “nearest lips” possible. Enter Tom Hiddleston.
The timeline of Taylor’s relationships with Calvin, Tom, and her current boyfriend Joe is confusing to even the most dedicated of Swifties, but her music does offer some insight into what went down.
Taylor met both Tom and Joe at the Met Gala in May 2016. At the time, she was still dating Calvin, and it was two months before Kim would leak that damning Snapchat video.
In short, Taylor purposefully tried to seduce Tom because she was looking for an excuse to end things with Calvin. As a result, she literally views the British actor as a “getaway car,” and in her 2017 song of the same name, she mirrors Calvin’s post-split remark about being free with a line describing feeling “the light of freedom” on her “face” once with Tom.
Interestingly, Tom is nine years older than Taylor, and in “Don’t Blame Me,” she admits to experimenting with older men and treating them as “playthings” for her “to use” at this point in her life.
This is a stark parallel to the way that she believes older men — such as John and Jake — treated her when she was much younger, suggesting that her past experiences had hardened her approach to dating.
Tom and Taylor spent most of their incredibly public but short-lived romance jetting around the world. In “I Did Something Bad,” Taylor suggests that Tom thought that he was doing her a favor by being in the relationship and viewed himself as her savior.
However, Tom’s desire for publicity led to Taylor questioning his intentions. According to reports at the time, Tom had asked Taylor to be his date for the Emmys, and when she expressed her concern about the backlash that came with their repeated PDAs, he didn’t back down.
Taylor ended up splitting with Tom over concerns he was using her status for his own benefit. But this also alleviated any guilt she may have felt about publicly calling him out in her songs, pointedly saying “if he drops my name then I owe him nothing.”
Despite the bravado, Taylor does appear to show some remorse in “Getaway Car,” where she repeatedly says “sorry” to Tom for how things panned out.
At the same time, though, she tells Tom that he should’ve recognized the relationship was a very obvious rebound from Calvin. In a clever reference to their first encounter at the Met Gala, Taylor says: “Should’ve known I’d be the first to leave / Think about the place where you first met me.”
And while she initially chose to date Tom after meeting him and Joe at the same time, she remained in touch with the latter over the summer and they began dating in October 2016.
Joe and Taylor seemed almost destined for each other, as “Bad Blood” was the first song he heard after landing in LA for the first time on a trip where he also happened to dine at her favorite restaurant.
When they finally did meet, it was the sound of his laughter followed by an English accent that caught Taylor’s attention. And while she played it cool at the time, she actually went home and googled his name.
She has also admitted to drunkenly poking fun at Joe’s accent as well as purposefully avoiding him because she was so overwhelmed by attraction. In fact, the attraction was so intense that she even had mixed feelings about him being available. On the one hand, she’d be jealous of a potential girlfriend, but, on the other, at least then she wouldn't have to decide whether to act on her feelings.
It isn’t clear whether Taylor and Joe overlapped with Taylor and Tom in any way, but she has revealed that the pair played “cat and mouse” for a few months while they sussed one another out.
Despite Taylor clearly being secretly obsessed with Joe from day one, her 2019 song “Cruel Summer” suggests they had a more casual arrangement at the start of their relationship, with Joe being pretty blasé about the whole thing and both of them “playing games.”
In fact, Taylor became so concerned that Joe was leading her on that she almost ended things. But when he called her up and laid all his cards on the table, she took the plunge and jumped into the relationship.
In a bid to escape the publicity that her love life normally attracts, Taylor went to extreme lengths to keep their dates private and would take back entrances into dive bars to avoid being spotted.
Keep in mind, this was all going on when Taylor’s reputation was at its lowest. She had completely retreated from the spotlight after the Kimye feud, and one of the reasons that she trusted Joe is because he didn’t care that her public image had fallen apart.
And Joe ended up being the silver lining to this dark period in Taylor’s life. Despite experiencing the “worst times” of her professional career, she admits in “Call It What You Want:” “I’m doing better than I ever was.”
According to her songs, about a month after Taylor and Joe officially started dating, they escaped to a cabin together so she could process the Kimye drama. In a poignant callback to her time with Tom, Taylor invited Joe to join her with the caveat that he must understand that he doesn’t “need to save” her.
It was during this getaway that Taylor managed to find a way through the emotional turmoil of the summer and realize that she would eventually overcome it. And it seems that Joe was the wake-up call she needed to see that there’s more to life than fame and professional success.
In contrast to the glitz and glamor of showbiz, Taylor’s relationship with Joe is built on normalcy and embracing the little things of the everyday, right down to the mundane intimacy of cleaning up after a party with somebody who you love.
In fact, much of their time together is spent privately with their inner circles. In “Paper Rings,” Taylor reveals that she’d taken part in Joe’s long-standing family tradition of jumping into a freezing cold lake on Christmas Day after he encouraged her by taking the plunge first. In the same song, she reflects on how they’d painted a wall for Joe’s younger brother together.
“Lover” also highlights domesticity as a key component of their relationship, with tenderness and affection expressed in seemingly inconsequential situations like having friends stay over and making new traditions in their shared home.
And their normalcy is most exposed in “London Boy,” where Taylor details bonding with Joe’s close friends in London pubs over rugby and “stories from uni.” Through Joe, Taylor has also realized that she doesn’t care about expensive things and would rather just enjoy quality time together.
In “Invisible String,” Taylor reveals that she and Joe blend into the everyday so well that when they marked their third anniversary with a special lunch, the server didn’t realize who she was and instead thought that she was a regular woman who bore a striking resemblance to a pop star.
But just because Taylor can sometimes pass for a civilian, it doesn’t mean that she is. In fact, she’s often concerned that her relationship will collapse under the pressures of fame.
At the beginning of her relationship with Joe, Taylor questioned whether they were “stupid” to think that it could work out. In “The Archer,” she expresses her fear of deliberately sabotaging the relationship. In “Peace,” she’s scared that the drama surrounding her will eventually push Joe to leave.
“Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?" Taylor repeatedly asks him.
This fear is reiterated in the 2017 song “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” where Taylor reveals that she had “a bad feeling” about the “world” tearing them apart when she was ambushed by paparazzi after months of hiding out with Joe. However, she carried on with the relationship regardless.
Ultimately, being with Joe has encouraged Taylor to take a step back from the limelight and enjoy a more low-key life. But it’s arguable that, were she not knocked from her pedestal by Kimye, she likely wouldn’t have been able to give the relationship the privacy it needed in order to survive.
The two have now been together for six years, and it seems like Taylor truly believes that Joe is The One, with the bridge of “Lover” literally consisting of wedding vows.
In fact, Joe ended up changing Taylor’s entire concept of what love is, with the star admitting in “Daylight” that she used to think love was “red” — fiery and passionate — but it’s actually “golden, like daylight.”
And it is a good thing that Taylor had established that genuine love and support from Joe by the time that she hit another low back in 2019, when she was betrayed by Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun.
Scott helped launch Taylor’s career by signing her to his record label when she was 14 years old, and they worked so closely for 15 years that Taylor viewed him as family. But the relationship completely imploded when Scott refused to sell Taylor the master recordings of her first six albums before brokering a secret $300 million deal with Scooter in a move she’s called her “worst nightmare.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone at the time, Taylor said of Scott: “I thought I knew what betrayal felt like, but this stuff that happened with him was a redefinition of betrayal for me. To go from feeling like you’re being looked at as a daughter to this grotesque feeling of ‘Oh, I was actually his prized calf that he was fattening up to sell to the slaughterhouse that would pay the most.’”
And Taylor’s 2020 song “My Tears Ricochet” appears to be about this betrayal. In one standout line, she says that Scott had “turned into [his] worst fears,” suggesting that he’d once vowed not to become a stereotypical money-grubbing record industry exec. She also mused that the pain he caused her would “ricochet,” leaving him with “sleepless nights.” This prompted her to cleverly describe her masters as “stolen lullabies.”
Taylor also told Entertainment Weekly that the song reflects on the fact that “this person that you trusted more than anyone in the world is the person that can hurt you the worst,” which is probably why she found herself unable to leave the situation “with grace.” She also maintains that no matter what had happened between them, she never deserved the “pain” that Scott caused.
She goes on to suggest that Scott prioritized trying to save his own skin in the fallout from the deal with Scooter, and that he will eventually regret his decision to choose profit over her, realizing that he should have kept her in his life — and career — forever.
This concept also appears in “It’s Time To Go,” where Taylor describes “begging” Scott to let her buy her masters until her “knees bled.” But she realizes now that although his “greed” secured her “past” for himself, she has the future — and that’s all that matters.
Scooter also doesn’t get away unscathed, with Taylor previously claiming that he had “incessantly bullied” and “manipulated” her for years — and had encouraged his clients, including Kanye, to do the same.
Taylor alludes to this manipulation in her song “Mad Woman,” in which she accuses Scooter of purposefully antagonizing her until she retaliated in his bid to publicly brand her as “crazy” and “angry.”
She also suggests that Scooter exploits other singers for his own benefit and uses them as stepping stones in his career, even taking a jab at his personal life.
The 2020 song references cheating and preceded reports that Scooter had been unfaithful to his then-wife, Yael Cohen Braun, and had an affair with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne.
So, as you can see, through epic songwriting skills and generous oversharing, Taylor has gifted us so much behind-the-scenes intel over the last 16 years.
We don’t yet know how many more hidden details lie in her new release, Midnights, out today. But I for one cannot wait to find them. ●