Learning Lessons With Taylor Swift (Part 1)


Mylie Brown

A collage of Taylor performing during her first five different eras.

Mylie Brown, Photojournalist

Taylor Swift, one of the most famous women alive and a musical sensation, is different from any star we have seen before. She has collected the hearts of many fans worldwide and will go down in history. The thing that “swifties” truly appreciate about Taylor’s music – other than her versatile songs of fantastic quality – is the deep meaning of each song and album. Taylor speaks to her audience through her raw and powerful lyrics. Thus, in this article, I will explore my interpretation of what each of Taylor’s first five albums tries to teach her fans. 

 “Taylor Swift” (2006)

Taylor’s self-titled debut album started it all. “Taylor Swift” was a country album that had both happy and sad melodies within it. It honestly interprets adolescence and how teenage love feels when adults don’t take your feelings seriously. Despite others not seriously viewing teenagers’ young love, Taylor illustrates how profound teenagers’ feelings can be through this album. Casey Cho (10) shared that she agrees that this theme is exceptionally prominent in the album, as “Taylor had a crush on a boy unaware of her existence.” Although, at times, Taylor may seem “dramatic,” I believe her exaggerations teach listeners that their feelings are valid and should be accepted, no matter how strong.

Taylor had a crush on a boy unaware of her existence.

— Casey Cho (10)

 “Fearless” (2008)

Fearless is an album that strongly resonates with me, and I have found it much easier to analyze than “Taylor Swift.” Within “Fearless,” Taylor is seen as a bold and fearless character – at times, possibly too much so. She is willing to take risks and unapologetically be herself. As Taylor sings about her loves and heartbreaks, listeners are shown how confident she is in herself, which is inspiring and motivating. In “Love Story,” the third track on the “Fearless” album, Taylor tells her partner exactly what she wants in a passionate and confident tone. Additionally, in songs on the album like “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” Taylor pokes fun at a man who has hurt her and mocks him. I have learned from Fearless that proudly expressing yourself without apologizing is acceptable.

“Speak Now” (2010)

Taylor has remained unafraid to speak up, or speak now, about who she is and how she feels. In each song, Taylor shows this desire to speak her truth in many scenarios. In “Speak Now,” we see a version of Taylor that is eerily similar to the Taylor we see in “Fearless.” in “Back To December,” Taylor tells the story of the end of her relationship with Taylor Lautner and how she profoundly regrets turning away from him when he offers her all of his love. Within this song, Swift apologizes to Lautner, speaking up about how she knows this is wrong. She takes ownership of her actions. Then, in “Dear John,” Taylor speaks up to a man who wronged her (John Mayer). Taylor tells her entire truth about how her toxic relationship with him made her feel, and the lyrics make it seem she is singing directly to him. Through Speak Now, Taylor has taught me not to allow others to dictate my life. Further, the album inspires me to speak my truth, even when I have to battle against the expectations of others.

“Red” (2012)

I find Red to be an exciting album of Taylor’s. It is intense and passionate, yet emotional and complex. Taylor symbolizes each of these qualities with the color red. Within the album, Taylor experiences the thrills of falling in love with someone wrong for her, but she cannot turn away. Unlike her previous albums, where Taylor remains unafraid to stick up for herself, “Red” shows a Taylor that is no longer as bold and confident as she once was. Taylor acknowledges this in the song “All Too Well.” Further, she believes she misses her old self as she sings, “I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.” Taylor is aware that she has found herself in a relationship that is toxic for her. However, she could not turn away. In “I Knew You Were Trouble,” she sings about how she knows the relationship is wrong but blames herself and admits she cannot pull herself out. Fortunately, songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” show that Taylor has regained her self-confidence and ability to survive without a toxic relationship. Through “Red,” Taylor hopes to teach listeners that relationships have their highs and lows; all we can do is learn and grow from them. 

“1989” 2014

1989 is an album that genuinely shook the entire world when it was released. This was the album when Taylor completely broke off from her country style and released an album of entirely pop songs. When first thinking about this album, I recall that 1989 was the year Taylor Swift was born, which immediately shows that this album truly reflects who Taylor is. She reinvented herself and was no longer the person she was when she joined the music industry. In her song “Shake It Off,” Taylor pokes fun at herself by repeating what the media had been saying about her. However, this should not be seen as putting herself down but as taking power in what the press thinks she is. Although Taylor may have haters, she will let them hate her and continue to be her authentic self. “Shake It Off” is not the only song where Taylor pokes fun at herself. Another is “Blank Space,” a song in which Taylor tells listeners that she is perfectly aware that she has a reputation as a serial dater. However, she does not care and even finds this reputation seem funny. Taylor does not need the world’s validation to know who she is, and I believe that her overall message in “1989” is not to let the negative opinions of others prevent someone from living their best life.