Amidst the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce relationship news, Taylor has gotten quite a lot of backlash. Angry middle-aged Facebook users can’t seem to stop commenting “sHE’lL wRitE A brEaKuP sOnG AbOuT HiM” or “I cAn’T WaiT FoR tHe bReAkUp AlBuM tO CoMe oUt”.
Taylor has written some intense and deep breakup songs like “All Too Well” and “Back to December”. Although, arguably over half of Taylor’s discography deals with other themes like family troubles, her own ED, cancer, public feuds, growing up, etc. Her writing puts into words what a lot of other people feel, not just someone going through a breakup.
So, I am doing a deep-dive into Taylor’s discography. Then, the next time someone tries to tell you “TaYlOr OnLY WrIteS BrEaKuP sOnGs”, you can proudly send them the link to this article.
- “The Best Day”
“I’m 13 now and I don’t know how my friends could be so mean”
Taylor has stated many times that she has a close relationship with her mom. According to her, Taylor was bullied growing up for being ‘different’. She said the kids around her didn’t understand her love for singing and writing songs. She even noted one time that she invited all her friends to the mall and they said ‘they couldn’t come’. However, when Taylor went to the mall the same day she saw them there without her. To a young teenager growing up, this would be hard to deal with. In her song, “The Best Day” Taylor recounts how her mom was always there for her, despite her “friends” being so mean. She cites her mom’s support saying, “I don’t know who I’m gonna talk to now at school, but I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you”.
- “Soon You’ll Get Better”
“The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair. In doctor’s office lighting, I didn’t tell you I was scared.”
In my opinion, this is the saddest song Taylor has in her entire discography. The song is about her mom’s struggle with breast cancer. Taylor recounts the many doctors appointments and on-going ‘selfish’ fear of her mom not being there for her when she sings, “And I hate to make this all about me, But who am I supposed to talk to? What am I supposed to do? If there’s no you?” Additionally, she cites calling on a higher-power in this time of need singing, “Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too”. I get chills everytime I hear this song, especially as someone who has seen a family member struggle with breast cancer.
- “Dear Reader”
“Where I pace in my pen and my friends found friends who care, no one sees when you lose when you’re playing solitaire”
This is such an underrated song and probably my favorite from the album Midnights. The singer details a letter to her fans basically telling them that she is flawed and to take what she has said with a grain of salt. However, she gives advice at the same time. My favorite advice she gives in this song is “The greatest of luxuries is your secrets. Dear reader, when you aim at the devil, make sure you don’t miss”. Considering her past of being ridiculed for her private life, Swift has learned that privacy can be key to happiness. Although she follows up her advice saying “never take advice from someone who’s falling apart” and “you wouldn’t take my word for it if you knew who was talking”. This song is very interesting, and I feel as though it can be interpreted in multiple different ways.
“Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt, ’cause every scrap of you would be taken from me”
I kid you not – every time I hear this song I cry, because it hits so close to home. It is about Swift’s grandma named Marjorie, who passed away when Swift was in her early teens. This song has such a powerful message of how even when someone passes away, their spirit lives on. In the song, she sings, “What died didn’t stay dead, you’re alive, so alive”. In the verses, she mentions advice that her grandma gave her on how to live life in general. The song finishes off with “And if I didn’t know better I’d think you were singing to me now”. The song even samples Majorie’s vocals, as she was an opera singer when she was younger. It literally gives me chills everytime. As someone who lost their own grandmother in my early teens, I still feel and think about her every day and wonder how she would look at me now. This song puts into words exactly how that feels.
- “Look What You Made Me Do”
“I’m sorry – but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”
2016 was a rough year for Taylor Swift. She had an on and off feud with the rapper, Kanye West who released his song, “Famous”. In this song, he called Swift a b*tch. Kim Kardashian released a snippet of a phone call to which she said ‘confirmed’ Swift approved these lyrics. (now we know that the phone call was edited) After this drama, Swift got accused of ‘always playing the victim’, ‘being a liar, and ‘being dramatic’. To be more precise, people couldn’t stop calling her a ‘snake’. Thousands of people were commenting snake emojis under her social media posts, ‘fans’ turned on her, and celebrities were tweeting out snake emojis. The following year, Swift made the greatest comeback in music history (in my opinion). She dropped this song along with the music video. She makes it clear that this song is about all this drama with the snake-themed video, hints of phone calls, and mentions Kanye’s ‘tilted stage’ he had on tour. To this day, it is still my favorite music video.
- “You’re On You’re Own, Kid”
“Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned, everything you lose is a step you take”
This song is so iconic for so many reasons. It details Swift’s life growing up as it mentions the struggle of pursuing her dreams, her eating disorder, friendship bracelets, love, and loss. I think this song has almost become a fan favorite simply because so many young girls can relate to the struggles mentioned. It also suggests that fans got the idea to make and trade friendship bracelets at the Era’s Tour due to this song’s lyrics. It even made the cut for one of the surprise songs in the Era’s Tour movie.
- “Nothing New”
“How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22”
This is another song that puts into perspective the album, Red. As a vault track, fans didn’t get to hear this song until the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version) back in 2021. In this song, Taylor details the struggles of growing up where you think you know everything, and then realize that you get older and only feel like you know less. Setbacks in life, like loss and heartbreak, can make you feel like you’re going back in time. Swift perfectly captures that feeling in her lyrics. She also details the fear of being forgotten singing, “and someone else lights up the room? People love an ingenue”. Whenever I hear this song I can’t help but think about the transition from highschool to college. When most people graduate highschool they think they know everything about their future – their college, their future career, etc. Although, when you get into the thick of it you realize you had no idea what life is really like. It was refreshing and affirming when I heard this song for the first time.
- “The Man”
“They paint me out to be bad, so it’s okay that I’m mad”
Hints the title, this song is about sexism in Swift’s life and in the industry. The singer has dealt with a lot of sexism throughout her career. People and the media have accused her of ‘dating around’ too much, playing the victim, criticizing the clothes she wears, criticizing her for hard-earned money, etc. Although in this song, she flips the roles and details what it would be like if she was a man singing, “They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to” and “They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve – What I was wearing, if I was rude”. In her film “Miss Americana” she talks about her sexual assault trial. She details how she had proof and witnesses of her assault happening but still had to have a trial and get questioned. She then went on to ponder what happens when someone is raped and/or there are no witnesses or physical proof. Luckily, Swift won her trial and briefly mentions the issues surrounding assault accusations in this song singing, “When everyone believes ya, What’s that like?”.
“Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism? Like some kind of congressman”.
Taylor Swift noted this song as her favorite off of Midnights. Swift explains how she can be her worst enemy and recognizes her own flaws through this. She sings, “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror”. In my interpretation, these lyrics suggest that she will directly do things that damage her own self, but she will never do self-reflection. She further explained the self-deprecating way she has viewed herself in the music video. In the video, she stepped onto a scale and shook her head, possibly acknowledging her eating disorder.
“Just one single glimpse of relief, to make some sense of what you’ve seen”
Like “marjorie” this is another song that makes me emotional. Swift details what fighting in the war was like for her grandfather who served in World War II. She further explains this song in “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions”. In the documentary she says, “My grandad was exposed to some of the worst situations you could ever imagine as a human being. So, I kind of tried to imagine what would happen in order to make you just never be able to speak about something.” She mentions this specific idea in the song singing, “And some things you just can’t speak about”. Since this song was written during the Covid-19 pandemic, she also acknowledged the hard situations and tragedies doctors and nurses saw during the pandemic when she sings,“Something med school did not cover. Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother”.
I could go on and on about this and pick out multiple other songs like Daylight, Never Grow Up, mad woman, Welcome to New York, Ronan and many more. I think others like to put artists in a box (especially female artists). Obviously, Taylor is a very talented songwriter, and I think this alone makes people uncomfortable.