In case you haven’t heard, I have breaking news to share: This fall, a Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift collab is coming. When you combine two incredibly talented sad-song-making artists, what do you get? We won’t know for sure until November, but I can already feel the sorrow rolling over me and believe it or not, it’s invigorating.
I get excited for the return of autumn air in general, but the season of pumpkin spice, colorful leaves, and Halloween is even more special if you’re a Swiftie. Beyond her 11 Grammys, her Artist of the Decade award at the 2019 American Music Awards, and many, many other accomplishments, it’s clear to her fans that Swift has unofficially taken ownership of several distinct points throughout the year. July 9? A Swiftie holiday. I’ll be singing “salt air, and the rust on your door” to myself for the entirety of August. Even the early morning hour of 2 o’clock can send us into a frenzy. But Taylor Swift really claimed a whole season back in 2012, when she released her fourth studio album Red – considered the quintessential Fall album by most of her fans and perfect for a good cry sesh on a bitter late October day.
On August 5, the superstar dropped a video message – decorated in red and maple leaves – for fans to decode the names of songs from the vault. These tracks never made the album the first time around, but will be released with the rerecording on November 19, 2021. On TikTok, Swifties (who could also work as certified detectives) figured out that the code was a word search, and it led to the names of all nine vault songs as well as the names of featured artists. We were already expecting a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, since the pair has previously implied a second song they wrote for Red that didn’t make the final cut, but Swift surprised us with collabs with Mark Foster, Chris Stapleton, and Phoebe Bridgers, too. *insert record scratch here* What?! Yep, Sad Girl Fall just got even sadder.
Red is an album about heartbreak, about feeling alone, confused, and unsure. It has deeply emotional tracks, like “All Too Well” (which we’ll be getting a ten minute version of, and I’m already unwell), “I Almost Do,” and “The Last Time,” just to name a few (the original album was massive to begin with at 16 songs (22 on the deluxe version), and Taylor’s Version clocks in at 30). So needless to say, Sad Girl Fall was already on my agenda. I’ve been preparing to listen to every single lyric with a cup of tea in my hands and a cozy, warm blanket draped over me.
Though Sad Girl Fall can be whatever you want it to be – maybe you’re ready to reminisce over your past romantic relationships, or over friendships that went wrong – the most important thing about the season is that it makes you feel things. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and warm weather, but it’s when it gets cold that I truly spend some quality time with myself. It’s basically time well-spent looking inside. How are you feeling? Are you in need of a good cry? And who, other than Taylor Swift herself, can make us all tear up over their amazing storytelling through beautifully written lyrics? That would be the one and only Bridgers, who’s joining Swift on “Nothing New” and upgrading Sad Girl Fall to the next level.
Bridgers’ two albums (so far), Stranger in the Alps and Punisher, prove that she, too, has mastered the art of the deep, sentimental song. Her single “Motion Sickness” had everyone was on the floor crying, myself very much included. With lyrics like “I will wait for the next time you want me” combined with her soft voice and a dreary melody, her entire discography is perfect for a rainy day, too – and they’re both well-aware of the power that they hold. In an interview with Genius, Bridgers explained the lyrics of “I Know The End,” calling the first part of the song “miserable” and making it clear that she’s aware of her sad-song-making talents. In a 2020 interview with Zane Lowe for the Apple Music Awards, Swift admitted the same.
Both artists take their past relationships, heartbreak, and feelings of betrayal and share them in a way that those of us on the other side of the speaker can relate, even if we haven’t been through it ourselves. I remember listening to “All Too Well” for the first time. I was 14 and had never been in a relationship, but it was probably the first time I’d ever witnessed that much emotion in a song. Even though the real meaning wasn’t relatable to me (I’ve never left my scarf at Jake Gyllenhaal’s sister’s house, after all), it’s still my favorite song almost 10 years later. Books, poems, and songs all have the power to mean something different to every single person – and that’s on lyrical writing. Red is special in that sense. It’s like reading a book, investing you in Swift’s storytelling as she explores love and loss and hope, and I can’t wait to read it all over again with the new addendums.
Swifties discovered recently that Swift revealed some of the lyrics of “Nothing New” in the Lover Journals: “How can a person know everything at 18 and nothing at 22? And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” It’s not much, but it’s enough to get my mind racing. I can’t even imagine the damage that Swift’s artistic abilities combined with Bridgers’ will cause, and I can hardly wait. I’ll be cancelling all of my plans for November 19, and you’ll find me at home curled up in bed, both in awe of their talent and drowning in the emotion in every single lyric.