I will be honest and admit that this article is coming from a 100% biased source. I am, indeed, a lifelong Swiftie since the first time I heard “Our Song” on the radio in third grade. From the time that I was little, listening to Taylor Swift’s albums upon first drop has been a bit of a religious thing for me, as it is with any new artist or album I discover. A new album drops, and I listen to the songs over and over on loop until the next sound of something else catches my ear. I’ll go back every now and again and play it, but the newest songs always hold the freshest place in my heart.
Ever since the announcement of the impending new release of Taylor Swift’s second studio album, Fearless, I’ve been thinking about how this album will be an experience that I never knew I needed. Its work has been sitting quietly on mute in the back of my mind for a long time, like a book on the shelf once loved so dearly and now covered in dust as a stagnant, pleasant memory. I was in fourth grade when Fearless was first released, and it was my introduction to the nostalgia of romance, in all of its beautiful and triumphant and dangerous and painful emotions. I’d sing along in the back seat of my mom’s SUV and think about the innocent feeling that one day, too, I would have with a first kiss, the way she sings about in the titular song.
Thirteen years later, I’ve grown from the back seat to the driver’s seat. I am a senior in college, impending graduation and entry into the remainder of the real world I’ve experienced far too often since I was the wide eyed girl I was at nine years old. I’ve fallen in love, gone through heartbreak, and broken hearts, respectively. When I listened to the lyrics of the first re-released single, “Love Story,” I began to try and imagine the world that I heard this music through all this time ago. I sat there with a friend after a nine-hour shift and a couple margaritas, and she noted how nothing sounded that different besides the aging of her voice. And while yes, the music had technically changed very minimally — if at all — in terms of the instrumental and vocal emphasis, I could no longer hear the same song I heard all those years ago, or maybe, I just could not hear the song the same.
This album will allow me to reach back in time and remember pieces of the expectations I had for love and life as a little girl, while encompassing those feelings in a way that I could have never known had I not gone through what I had gone through today. “The Way I Loved You” will no longer be a song to dance to, but a song to belt out in reference to the disaster that is true and painful love. Fifteen will be a cry for the loss of innocence, “Forever and Always” will be the frustration of the one that never really was the one, and “Change” will be a hope for the future that seems to keep coming too fast.
While this music will be an empowerment against a patriarchal, oppressive hold of Swift’s own life work, it will also be a reminder that no matter the past, we always have the future, and the things we carry with us are not always baggage, but a piece of who we are. While so many may just see this album as a throw back to the past, I’ll continue to read into things (maybe too much,) and will hear Fearless (Taylor’s Version) as an enchanting reminder that we’re all still growing up, and that a piece of my past will always belong with me and my future. Now, isn’t that really something fearless?