I’ve been listening (along with the rest of the internet) to Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated Taylor’s Version of her iconic 2010 album, Speak Now, nonstop. I felt a flood of nostalgia listening to some of my old favorites, such as “Back to December” and “The Story of Us.” But one of the new Vault songs, “Timeless,” struck a chord with me because the lyric video depicted a pictorial retelling of Swift’s maternal grandparents’ love story. Swift owes many of her musical influences to her grandparents, particularly her grandmother, who used to be a singer-songwriter herself. Swift has even dedicated songs to her grandparents in the past, such as “Epiphany” from her 2020 Folklore album.
With Swift’s history of songs inspired by or in celebration of her grandparents, “Timeless” delivers a fresh insight into her grandparents’ lives. Some fans may be confused by Swift’s lyric video because she does not discuss simply one love story, but rather the love stories of all her grandparents from both her mother’s and father’s sides. I’m here to break down each love story and introduce you to Swift’s grandparents. I’m warning you now that you might shed a couple of tears.
Who are Marjorie and Robert Bruce Finlay?
Marjorie Finlay was born in Memphis, Tennessee on Oct. 5, 1928. Swift considers Finlay’s ambition of becoming an opera singer to be a big inspiration for her also pursuing a career in music. Swift dedicated the song “Marjorie” from her ninth album, Evermore, to her in a tweet outlining some of the album’s tracks: “One starring my grandmother, Marjorie, who still visits me sometimes…if only in my dreams.”
In the accompanying lyric video for “Marjorie,” she shows clips of Finlay in a yellow dress wandering different places. Additionally, she adds photos of Finlay in her youth and home videos with Swift when she was a child. In the lyric video, Swifties discovered an old newspaper clip about Finlay, which stated that Finlay was a rising celebrity in Puerto Rico. She made her television debut in the 1960s as an MC in El Show Pan-Americano, in which she was cast when they needed an American girl who “spoke broken Spanish… for a Pan American bi-lingual show aimed at bringing better understanding between the Americas through their music.” She also performed with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and had a solo album distributed in Mexico.
Other than the fact that Robert Bruce Finlay was born on Nov. 8, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio, little is known about his life. According to a Suggest article, Robert Finlay was the president of Raymond Construction Company. He was also said to have served in the United States military, most likely during World War II, when the United States adopted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which obliged all men aged 21 to 45 to register for the military.
While it is unknown how the two met, they married on March 22, 1952. The pair moved back and forth between Cuba, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. They eventually gave birth to two children, one of them being Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift.
Who are Rose Baldi and Archie Dean Swift?
There isn’t much information available on Swift’s grandparents on her father’s side, except that Rose Baldi Swift was born on July 30, 1920 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and Archie Dean Swift was born on Dec. 21, 1914 in Elk County, Pennsylvania. On March 21, 1942, the couple married and had three children, including Swift’s father, Scott Kingsley Swift.
Swift also credited a song to her paternal grandparents, this time her grandfather, in the tune “Epiphany” off of Folklore. In the song, she tells the narrative of Dean Swift, who served in World War II at the Battle of Guadalcanal, and the lyrics are written from his point of view while serving in battle.
Taylor Swift’s “Timeless” lyrics allude to her grandparents’ love stories.
“Timeless” lyrically tells the narrative of an age-old marriage from the perspective of the girl. While the song does not appear to convey a single love tale about one of her grandparents’ specific relationships, the message instead seems to be an accumulation of their stories, similar to their photographs, that help demonstrate the joy of finding true love. In lines like “In another life, you would’ve turned my head even if we’d met / On a crowded street in 1944 / And you were headed off to fight in the war.” Such lyrics most likely portray both of her grandparents’ respective love stories, which took place when both of her grandfathers served in the military, specifically during World War II.