Today is the day that a new Taylor Swift album was released, so
obviously we’re doing our duty as Americans and over-analyzing her
lyrics and her not-so-subtle liner note codes. True to form, Swift
painstakingly sifted through the lyrics in her liner notes (which are
not only tucked into the CD, but available as an iTunes download) and
capitalized specific letters. Since we have too much time on our hands,
we took careful notes and did a whole bunch of research so you don’t
have to. You’re welcome.
The first song on the album, “State of
Grace,” basically says that love is worthwhile even if it’s difficult.
Her hidden code, LOVE DOESN’T COUNT AFTER GOODBYE, implies a change of
heart. Given the reference to Sagittarius and blue eyes, we’re putting
this one in the Jake Gyllenhaal column.
Which brings us to “Red,”
about a reckless, fast-paced love that ends abruptly. Swift compares
this relationship to “driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street,”
because driving a $140,000 car is totally something most of her fans can
relate to. The capital letters on this one spell out SAG — again,
referring to Jake’s astrological sign. (In case you’re wondering about
her obsession with his sign, it’s probably because they both share it,
and because most of their brief relationship happened during the
Sagittarius star sign. They broke up less than two weeks after his Dec. 19 birthday.)
songs “Treacherous” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” follow, both of them,
again, recounting a relationship that was dangerous from the get-go.
Respectively, Taylor’s secret codes spell out “WON’T STOP TIL IT’S OVER”
and “WHEN YOU SAW ME DANCING.” This means very little to us.
Too Well” might as well have been titled “A Sad Love Letter to Jake
Gyllenhaal.” The least subtle song on the album references everything
from Jake’s glasses-wearing younger days, to his sister Maggie, to the
scarf she wore in all those snuggly paparazzi photos of the two of them
sipping maple lattes. Oh, and the code words are MAPLE LATTES, so,
The song “22,” which basically sounds like it was swept from Ke$ha’s cutting room floor, is about a super-awesome fun night with girlfriends, when Taylor totally forgot about all the angst and strife that comes with being a very wealthy, beautiful, and successful woman. She dedicates her song to her other super-hot, super-successful BFFs in the code words: ASHLEY (Greene) DIANNA (Agron) CLAIRE (Calloway) and SELENA (Gomez). (Um, what happened to Tay Tay’s former BFF Abigail? Did she just ditch her for the Twilight/Glee/Disney crowd?)
The secret “I Almost Do” message is WROTE THIS INSTEAD OF CALLING and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” includes the message WHEN I STOPPED CARING WHAT YOU THOUGHT. These two are quite obviously linked — both are about a guy who keeps trying to get in touch with Taylor. In the first song, she’s considering getting back together with him. In the second song, she decides not to. Like. Ever. We’ve already done the analysis here: Our best guess is that this one is about Parachute frontman Will Anderson. Gyllenhaal just doesn’t seem like the type to send booty-call texts. (Shh. Allow us our illusions.)
“Stay Stay Stay” isn’t about anyone. Taylor wrote it after she was over Parachute dude and on her way to moving on from Gyllenhaal — as she admits in the code, she was just DAYDREAMING ABOUT REAL LOVE. Not actually indulging in it. It’s a cute little ditty about a guy who loves her despite the fact that she is a general pain in the you-know-what.
LA ON YOUR BREAK is the message hidden in “The Last Time,” Taylor’s duet with Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. We’re so obsessed with Snow Patrol that we sort of wish Lightbody was above singing a song that’s pretty obviously about John Mayer, who took a major break from his career last year and made a few under-the-radar sojourns to Los Angeles.
“Holy Ground” is a song about a relationship that ended, but of which Taylor still has fond memories. Considering the code words are WHEN YOU CAME TO THE SHOW IN SD, and Joe Jonas is the only Swift ex who regularly attends her concerts, this one is definitely about him. It’s actually kind of nice to see that after skewering him on her album “Fearless” and skewering Camilla Belle in the song “Better Than Revenge,” Taylor and the middle JoBro are on pretty good terms these days.
And then there’s “Sad Beautiful Tragic.” Has there ever been a more Taylor Swift-y song title ever? The song (about beautiful tragic sadness) contains several references to a train, and the code words spell out WHILE YOU WERE ON A TRAIN. It might be referencing Gyllenhaal’s time touring on a train with Mumford & Sons, though that tour happened several months after Taylor and Gyllenhaal broke up. (Who are we kidding? Of course she was still pining for him several months later.)
“The Lucky One” is about a singer or a movie star whose fame burned out a little bit quickly after her secrets ended up in tabloids and she was replaced by younger, prettier versions of herself. The code words are WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW, so there aren’t many hints here, except that the celeb in question uses a stage name and spent some time on the French Riviera. Our best guess is that it’s a made-up Marilyn Monroe sort. Taylor seems the type to have a vivid imagination.
Her duet with Ed Sheeran, called “Everything Has Changed,” is an obvious reference to Conor Kennedy, with HYANNIS PORT spelled out in the capital letters… uh, even though she wrote the song before they met. Wishful thinking, perhaps?
“Starlight” was written for Taylor’s bestie, Ethel Kennedy, as revealed by the FOR ETHEL note in the liner… though somehow we doubt the Kennedy matriarch will be studying Taylor’s lyrics. The song, which includes the line “I’m with Bobby on the boardwalk, summer of ’45,” was inspired by an old photograph of Ethel and Robert Kennedy.
And, finally, “Begin Again” reveals the origins of the new relationship (with Kennedy) that helped Taylor get over her old relationship (with Gyllenhaal). In the song, she talks about not being able to wear heels with her former boyfriend — Gyllenhaal is barely taller than she is — and the liner code is I WEAR HEELS NOW. We’re all super happy for you, Taylor.
All in all, Gyllenhaal was pretty laid bare in this album — but compared to some of her previous records and ex-boyfriends, we think that the actor got off easy. He might come off as a slightly creepy scarf-sniffer in “All Too Well,” but mostly Taylor’s memories of him seem relatively fond. He certainly isn’t accused of taking advantage of her youth, like John Mayer was, or of ditching her for a slutty actress, like Joe Jonas was. Heck, he wasn’t even condescended to (Kanye West) or emasculated (Taylor Lautner).
We’re betting that Taylor’s going to get her scarf back real quick, though.