It’s going to have my stamp.
That’s what Taylor Swift has said about the albums that she’s recreating, under her name, as her own producer.
It’s not that her previous work didn’t have her stamp. But when manager Scooter Braun scooped up the rights to her first six albums, Swift decided to re-record every single album, which would allow her to use and license all the songs on them as she chose. And while she’s at it, Taylor’s giving her fans new takes on her old-time classics and even adding songs from “the vault.”
Now, she’s re-released her 2014 album, 1989, and it’s called, naturally, 1989 (Taylor’s Version). Taylor’s version, includes five new, added songs that we’re going to be talking about here. And while some of them are sweet and reflective, most focus on broken hearts, former lovers and the complications that messy breakups, and sex, bring.
Taylor learns to be vulnerable in “Say Don’t Go.” Taylor wonders what ended her relationship in “Is It Over Now?”
In “Now That We Don’t Talk,” Taylor mourns a past relationship and the friendship she’s lost (“I miss the old ways, you didn’t have to change/But I guess I don’t have a say/Now that we don’t talk”). She calls her mother for counsel and solace (“I called my mom, she said that it was for the best”) and then remembers …
… That this former lover began to become disinterested and distant in their relationship before it even ended (“Remind myself the way you faded till I left”).
“Slut” calls out the shaming Taylor experienced while dating a much-desired man (“And if they call me a slut, you know it might be worth it for once”); she notes that the man did not suffer the same fate (“love thorns all over this rose/I’ll pay the price, you won’t”). This song also includes plenty of innuendo, letting listeners know intimate details about their sexual history (“Got lovesick all over my bed/…Half asleep, takin’ your time”).
Taylor remembers a former high school relationship and the unfaithful, too-cool guy who broke her heart (“You had people who called you on unmarked numbers/In my peripheral vision/…And you kiss me in a way that’s gonna screw me up forever”).
Taylor’s left alone after being led on by a love interest in “Say Don’t Go.” She says, “Why’d you have to lead me on?/Why’d you have to twist the knife?/Walk away and leave me bleeding.”
“Is It Over Now” finds Taylor’s former lover replacing her, often sensually, with anyone and anything that reminds him of her (“If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her/…You search in every model’s bed for something greater”). Taylor does the same (“Was it over when he unbuttoned my blouse?”).
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again: Taylor’s music has changed and evolved. But that’s to be expected.
She started writing music back in 2006, before I graduated high school (and we’re the same age), and she’s still writing and releasing music. Which means that women like me who grew up listening to Taylor sing about hopeless romance are now listening to her add murky complexity to that music: revenge, bitterness, heartbreak, loss and details about former sexual trysts.
And that’s mostly what we hear on these five songs released from the vault. We hear that Taylor’s heart has been broken and that she has a sexual and emotional past that is working itself out. Not profanely, but often graphically.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).