Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’: Who is Each ‘Treacherous, Sad, Beautiful, Tragic’ Love Song About? (ANALYSIS)
“This album is about the other kinds of love that I’ve recently fallen in and out of,” Swift, 22, writes on the album. “Love that was treacherous, sad, beautiful, and tragic. But most of all, this record is about love that was red.”
Here are our best guesses as has as to who, exactly, Swift is singing about on each and every one of her new songs — all 16 of them!
1. State Of Grace
Hidden message: LOVE DOESN’T COUNT AFTER GOODBYE
Who: Jake Gyllenhaal
Lyrical clues: “Just twin fire signs, four blue eyes”
Both Gyllenhaal and Swift are blue-eyed Sagittariuses, which happens to be one of the three fire signs. Given the sweeping sound of “State of Grace,” it sounds like the pair’s short romance was anything but a meaningless fling.
Hidden message: SAG
Who: Jake Gyllenhaal
Lyrical clues: “Passionate as sin, ended so suddenly… Like the colors in autumn”
Swift and her actor beau only dated briefly, from October 2010 (other wise known as autumn) to January 2011. The singer’s hidden message, “SAG,” could stand for Sagittarius or Screen Actors Guild — both of which are good descriptors for Gyllenhaal.
Hidden message: WON’T STOP UNTIL IT’S OVER
Who: John Mayer
Lyrical clues: “Until the gravity’s too much/ And I’ll do anything you say/ If you say it with your hands”
Swift’s hidden message could easily reference Mayer’s harsh remarks toward “Dear John” and her songwriting choices in Rolling Stone. “It made me feel terrible,” he said. “Because I didn’t deserve it. I’m pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do.”
However, Swift’s message to Mayer seems pretty clear: She won’t stop writing until this heartache is over. Swift also references two of Mayer’s tracks in “Treacherous”: “Gravity” and “Your Body is a Wonderland”, in which Mayer sings, “Your body is a wonderland/ I’ll use my hands.”
Hidden message: WHEN YOU SAW ME DANCING
Who: Harry Styles
Lyrical clues: “A new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be… And the saddest fear comes creeping in/That you never loved me or her or anyone or anything”
Back in April — before Conor Kennedy — Swift had a reported fling with One Direction’s resident womanizer. Swift was allegedly heartbroken when she saw photographs of Styles, 18, and American model Emma Ostilly on a date in Auckland on April 20. Swift’s reference to dancing could be a nod to her enthusiastic cheering during One Direction’s performance during the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards back in March.
5. All Too Well
Hidden message: MAPLE LATTES
Who: Jake Gyllenhaal
Lyrical clues: “Left my scarf there at your sister’s house… Oh your sweet disposition”
This one is just too easy. Not only does Swift’s secret message point toward her and Gyllenhaal’s favorite coffee date drink, but the song also mentions his older sister Maggie and their apple-picking adventures in upstate New York. Oh, and one of Gyllenhaal’s favorite bands is Temper Trap (ahem, “Sweet Disposition”).
Hidden message: ASHLEY DIANNA CLAIRE SELENA
Who: Her BBFs: Ashley Avignone, Dianna Agron, Claire Callaway and Selena Gomez.
Swift’s fun, flirty “22” is an ode to being young and a nod to her BFFs.
7. I Almost Do
Hidden message: WROTE THIS INSTEAD OF CALLING
Who: Owl City’s Adam Young
Lyrical clue: “I bet this time of night you’re still up”
On Swift’s last album, Speak Now, she penned the track “Enchanted” for Young. Too shy to call her back, he crafted a response in the form of a cover of “Enchanted.”
“Dearest Taylor,” he wrote. “I’ll be the first to admit I’m a rather shy boy and since music is the most eloquent form of communication I can muster, I decided to record something for you… This is what I wanted so badly to tell you in person but could never quite put into words.” However, Young says he never got a response from the country-pop singer.
So it makes perfect sense that she would follow that up with another song — with the message, “Wrote this instead of calling.” Also, Swift sings, “I bet this time of night you’re still up,” which could be a nod to Young’s insomnia.
Hidden message: WHEN I STOPPED CARING WHAT YOU THOUGHT
Who: Will Anderson
Lyrical clues: “And you, will hide away and find your piece of mind with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine”
Swift dated the Parachute frontman — an indie rock enthusiast with a wide array of Ray Ban glasses — on-and-off in December 2011.
9. Stay Stay Stay
Hidden message: DAYDREAMING ABOUT REAL LOVE
Who: Conor Kennedy
Lyrical clues: “That’s when you came in wearing a football helmet”
Since Swift and Kennedy’s relationship is so new, they may not have achieved “real love” yet, but Kennedy’s good manners (he carries her groceries!) make it easy for her to daydream. “This morning I said we should talk about it/ Cause I read you should never leave a fight unresolved/ That’s when you came in wearing a football helmet.” Conor plays football at Deerfield Academy.
10. The Last Time
Hidden message: L.A. ON YOUR BREAK
Who: Jake Gyllenhaal
Lyrical clues: “And all the times I let you in/ Just for you to go again/ Disappear when you come back/ Everything is better”
It looks like Gyllenhaal and Swift had some kind of on-and-off-again crazy beautiful romance given the amount of tracks he inspired. With his filming schedule, Gyllenhaal could have easily met with Swift “in L.A. on his break,” so the hidden message points toward the actor.
11. Holy Ground
Hidden message: WHEN YOU CAME TO THE SHOW IN S.D.
Who: Joe Jonas
Lyrical clues: “Well I guess we fell apart in the usual way/ And the story’s got dust on every page/ Sometimes I wonder how you think about it now/ And I see your face in every crowd”
The book is certainly closed when it comes to Swift’s romance with Jonas. That relationship has already inspired three of Swift’s hits — “Forever and Always,” “Last Kiss” and “Better Than Revenge.” But “Holy Ground” represents a young woman finally at peace with her first love.
Back in 2008, Swift flew to New York to be with her JoBro while they filmed a segment for the Jonas Brothers’ 3-D concert movie. “We had this big wide city all to ourselves,” she sings, which could easily refer to her and Joe’s time in the Big Apple together. Also, Swift’s secret message is a reference to Joe being spotted at two of Swift’s concert in L.A. and San Jose. Could the middle Jonas have snuck into her show in San Diego as well? All signs point to yes.
Hidden message: WHILE YOU WERE ON A TRAIN
Who: John Mayer or Jake Gyllenhaal
Lyrical clues: “Good girls, hopeful they’ll be and lonely will wait”
Only Mayer would travel by train. Isn’t that what Shadow Days is all about? And Swift’s reference to “good girls” could be a nod to Mayer’s now-famous cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” Also, “Sad Beautiful Tragic” pretty much sums up the entirety of Mayer and Swift’s ill-fated romance.
However, “While you were on a train” could also refer to Gyllenhaal’s film, Source Code, which he filmed while dating Swift. Perhaps “Sad Beautiful Tragic” was written as a culmination of Swift’s past heartaches.
13. The Lucky One
Hidden message: WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW
Who: Joni Mitchell
Lyrical clues: “It was a few years later, I showed up here/ And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared/ How you took the money and your dignity, and got the hell out”
Swift is set to play her idol, Joni Mitchell, in an upcoming, albeit top-secret, biopic (i.e. “Wouldn’t you like to know). Mitchell retired from the spotlight years ago, choosing the “Rose Garden over Madison Square.” Swift has not only called Mitchell one of her idols, but she’s also one of her songwriting inspirations.
14. Everything Has Changed
Hidden message: HYANNIS PORT
Who: Conor Kennedy
Lyrical clues: “And all I’ve seen since 18 hours ago is green eyes and freckles and your smile in the back of my mind making me feel right”
This duet with Ed Sheeran is obviously about her current boyfriend Conor because the hidden message is “Hyannis Port.” Hyannis Port just so happens to be where the Kennedy Compound is located — and where Swift just purchased a home. Sheeran and Swift sing, “I just wanna know you better,” on the chorus, and the singer-songwriter will definitely get to know her beau better when she moves in right across the street. Also, the song mentions green eyes, which wouldn’t you know, is the same eye color of the young Kennedy.
Hidden message: FOR ETHEL
Who: Ethel Kennedy
Oh boy. Now Swift has even penned a song for her beau’s grandmother Ethel. “I met Bobby [Kennedy] on the boardwalk, summer of ’45.” The song, written from Ethel’s perspective, is an ode to young love, dancing like “we’re made of starlight,” and having “10 kids” (Ethel and Bobby actually had 11 kids) and teaching them “how to dream.” Adorable or creepy? We’re not quite sure.
16. Begin Again
Hidden message: I WEAR HEELS NOW
Who: Will Anderson / Conor Kennedy
Lyrical clues: “I’ve been spending the last 8 months/ Thinking all love ever does/ Is break and burn and end”
The Parachute frontman — you know, the indie rock enthusiast –wasn’t Swift’s tallest ex, so if we had to guess which former flame had an issue with Swift’s height, we’re going to say it was Anderson. That fling fizzled in January 2012, but things between Swift and Kennedy started heating up in August 2012 — “eight months” after her last breakup. “And you throw your head back laughing/ Like a little kid,” could be a reference to Kennedy’s age. After all, he’s three years her junior. Plus, it’s seems only natural that Swift would conclude her album with a nod to her current love.
No changes are to be made to this player.
Below, more scoop on Taylor Swift’s new album, Red.